Yesterday, as I was busy fixing paschal foods all afternoon, I was experiencing a wee bit of self pity and more than a wee bit of grumpiness. Ok, more than a wee bit of self pity. Everyone was looking forward to the feast. Except for me. The only foods (when one is pitying oneself one never has a realistic view of things) I would be able to eat, I was thinking to myself, were all the sugar free things I brought myself. And the same for my gluten free, casein free daughter. And what was there to look forward to in THAT? The only reason everyone is getting happy, it seemed to me, is the food. Not the resurrection. How much, in this moment, do I really CARE about it? It all seemed so far away, and I so exhausted.
I truly did not think I would make it. But as usual, once I got there, I picked up a second wind. (Note the recurrent "I's" in the above sentences...). Whoever invented the idea of out-of-doors liturgical processions is brilliant, simply brilliant. The cold air was wonderful, and of course I woke up and was reinvigorated for the rest of liturgy.
I love it when all the lights are put out at midnight, and then just the three small beeswax candles are lit in the altar area while the priest censes the icon of the body of Christ which is laid out on the altar. In his beautiful voice Father Justin started singing: "Thy resurrection, O Christ, the angels in heaven sing. Enable us on the earth to glorify Thee in purity of heart." Those three candles provided more illumination to that area than seemed possible. In that light the billows of incense smoke were so visible. And we all picked up the hymn as we lit our candles and filed out the door behind the cross, singing into the cold Kentucky night...right there on main street, with the lights from the Goody's marquis and the Kroger gas station across the street shining on us. And eventually we gathered again at the doors of the Church. "Lift up your heads O Gates and be lifted up O Ancient doors that the King of Glory may enter in!"...the words from scripture that recall Christ's descent into hell and His harrowing of hell. Even my hell? Even my small, pathetic fatigue and frustrations? Yes, even this. Then the shout! "CHRIST IS RISEN!" "TRULY HE IS RISEN". Then we all sing at the top of our lungs, still shivering in the cold, mind you, but full of paschal joy.
And there it was. And we worshiped and sang of the resurrection, and somehow in the midst of this community, I did care, come to care. I do believe. I am happy. I had thought to myself as things were starting that the only way I'd make it through was if the Holy Spirit would give me strength. He did. As usual. The resurrection of Christ is the most important thing. Ever!
Christ is Risen from the dead
trampling down death by death
and upon those in the tomb bestowing life!
I always enjoy the "polyglot" gospel reading. First Father Justin read the gospel in the original Koine Greek. Then he read a couple of verses in English and someone would read those verses in another language. We heard Spanish, Portugese, French, Creole, Russian, German, Swahili, Swiss, Hebrew, Latin...I think that's all. I read the German and the Swiss ones. The new people's eyes ALWAYS pop when I open my Kentucky-fried mouth and Swiss German comes out.
And when Father Justin shouted "Christus ist Auferstanden!", the first time I was totally unprepared, but then the second time he did it, looking straight at me with a challenging glint in his eye as he breezed past with the smoky censor, I was ready: "Wahrlich ist Er Auferstanden!" Next year I'll teach him to say it in Baselduetsch!
(And totally as an aside, yes, after the Resurrection Liturgy, I was able to fill my plate with yummy "legal" things, and so was my daughter...others in the parish with dietary restrictions banded together, and even my daughter had plenty of goodies: gluten free/dairy free scones, homemade sausages, gfcf ice cream and homemade legal candies. This idea that we are alone is such the lie.)
Christ is Risen!
Truly He is Risen!
Oh, and my red eggs were not red. They turned BROWN! I tried boiling them in a vat of natural red currant food coloring and then when that did not work, I sent my husband out for a red cabbage to put in the pot. But to no avail. Brown! (albeit a lovely shade of brown, if I do say so myself...) I polished them up anyways, and labeled them as dragon eggs with a sign that I could not get the chickens to eat my red dye, and at least one child was thrilled at the thought of dragon eggs, and at least one grown up laughed at my sign. Mission accomlished. Here is a picture of some of our goodies, this morning after we got into them.
Glorious Pascha to all my readers! Christ is Risen!