Holy Week, Part I

For most people, Easter has come and gone.  The chocolate bunnies and plastic grass are on clearance, so they’re calling it done.  To my mind, we’ve just begun.  Lent, a 40-day season of reflection and trying to walk in Jesus’ footsteps, culminates in Holy Week, this harrowing 7 days that takes us from the heights of triumph with him on Palm Sunday, when people carpeted the streets with branches for a king, to the depths of darkness as the altar gets stripped on Maundy Thursday and the story of his Passion read and Good Friday, when we mark that day he would have suffered many humiliations and pains and died.

Some people see it as a guilt trip.  Some see it as a bummer. Others think it’s a moot point: He’s risen now, so let’s not dwell on it.  So they move on to the “good part” of the story that we all know is coming.  And for practicality’s sake, there are school egg hunts and family get-togethers a little ahead of Easter itself.  That morning comes in all its glory, with pastel polka-dotted lawns, frilly frocks, and straw hats (oh, please tell me little girls’ Easter hats are still alive somewhere!), and by Monday morning, it’s business as usual again.

Here’s how I see it:  Mustard Seed frequently refuses to watch the scary–or even the just plain sad–parts of a movie.  So I tell her I happen to know the story turns out wonderfully in the end and that if you don’t go through the dark moments, the happy ending doesn’t mean half as much.  To put it another way, if your parent worked a second job to send you on an amazing senior trip, if it’s a nice parent, he or she isn’t expecting you to grovel in your guilt about that every day for the rest of your life; but a nice child doesn’t let that sacrifice go unnoticed or unthanked.  I don’t have any illusions about lessening Jesus’ burden or currying favor with God by seeming appropriately appreciative and bereft.  That’s not why I “do” Holy Week.

I observe it because the Hallelujah! come Sunday morning is a little more heartfelt (for me) when I am explicitly reminded of the gravity of Friday.  Appreciating a resurrection is best done by first observing that there was a death, that’s all.

That said, there is a difference in observing the pre-Easter parts of Holy Week from this side of the resurrection: you know what’s coming–and it turns out wonderfully!

P.S. Did you know what you give up in pre-Easter joviality can actually go on for three weeks after The First Sunday of Easter?  Just like Christmas really is 12 days, Easter is a whole season.

Last week, as we were in the middle of a very busy week, made busier by four consecutive days of choir practice or services to sing at, rushing around from one activity to another and trying to keep the household from falling apart at the seams, the wonderful ending seemed to hardly be able to contain itself.  The sunshine was amazing, and there were pretty flowers everywhere, and I have an awesome kid who says awesome stuff all the time and who gives me an excuse to make Easter baskets and crafts.  And there was beautiful music all around me…and I got to make some of it…with only some of the most jaw-dropping singers around…the cool kids who let me hang around with them.  And besides, more than sad, from this side of things, it’s beautiful.

I thought I would share a few of my gifts that made my heart so light.

Wednesday, Mustard Seed had a tennis lesson with my dad, so as I frequently do during those, I went poking around in the woods to take pictures.  I came upon a big patch of lantana I had been eyeing for some cuttings to start in my backyard, and look what fluttered right around me and landed long enough for me to snap one perfect shot! (first photo)

I got my cuttings, and I couldn’t believe it, but right there by the tennis court, dewberry bushes were starting to grow, just a single short sucker each.  I took several up by the roots to plant in the backyard.  I’ve been waiting so long to order special blackberry bushes to grow, but why, if I like dewberries even better and I know they grow like crazy with no work here?

This faded magnolia blossom is another find from Wednesday.  The fuchsia of stem was so vibrant I had to photograph it.  Don’t the color schemes and combinations of textures in nature amaze you?  I would never think to put an outfit together with brown, cream, and fuchsia, but the magnolia is beautifully clothed.  I love the waxiness of the leaves juxtaposed with the spikiness of the claw-things, the velvet of the petals, and the fuzziness of that central cream-colored thing.  (Ha! Some naturalist I am with that terminology!)

After tennis, I headed over to hand over the child to Husband Man and ended up getting a whole hour and half to myself before choir practice.  At Target. With a Shabby Chic book to look at.  Someone please check and tell me if it gets better than that.  But in the process, I stumbled upon the coolest find and it all started with an 8-foot-tall disembodied general’s torso and involves Houston’s Mt. Rush Hour, and that’s all I’m saying about that until I can take pictures.

I have been saving and washing our eggshells for a few weeks for an Easter craft.  I thought about blowing them all out, but then I thought, nah…and just cracked ’em as usual.

I decided we could attempt a variation of a Christmas craft I saw when we went to a Colonial Christmas event at Bayou Bend a few months ago: eggshell hangers.  I don’t know why, but I like the idea of that.  I think they put a ribbon through them somehow and hung them from doors, but you could also hang them on an Easter tree or from a nail somewhere.  I envision them filled with little treats or sprouting tiny seedlings.

This is one of my designs.  I’ve been watching Bob Ross on The Joy of Painting from time to time.  Apparently, I haven’t absorbed much, but I still like the look.  We had mostly brown eggs, and it was interesting to see the different colors laid over the two colors of egg and to incorporate the brown into the color scheme itself.   We spent Thursday on this project right up until we had to rush out the door to get to Mustard Seed’s Scottish highland dance class.  She dug the dress below out from the depths of somewhere (I had totally forgotten about it), and it was very appropriate.

She takes the class at the school I grew up going to, from my dance teacher.  At first, she wasn’t sure she liked it, but that only lasted a week or two.  I let her play in the courtyard with the kids afterward.  On this day, even as we pulled up in the parking lot across the street, we could already hear the bagpipes.  Now, if there’s one thing about me that might surprise you, it’s that I get almost giddy hearing live bagpipes.  I think it comes from growing up around them, running around underfoot and dodging in between parishioners at church picnics as they played.  So when I heard them, I was psyched, especially since this was Mustard Seed’s first time hearing them in person.

When she came out of class, the pipers and drummers were holding their circle in the courtyard.  And here I got to see one of those wonderful things about her in action, one of those qualities you notice about your kid that’s not at all like you and makes you say, you know, despite me messing her up so much, she’ll probably be alright.  I don’t know why it made me think that, but it did.

As a kid, these circles were always going on after school.  They’re boys, you know–and not just any boys.  High school boys.  Cool boys.  Boys who probably have nunchuk skills, because they sure have mad drumstick twirling and pipe-circles-round-yo-mama skills.  So you would not have caught me dead dancing within their line of vision, no matter how much I wanted to.

Well, you can see how much inhibition Mustard Seed had.  It was all I could do keep her from getting in the middle of the circle! I like it that she has no thought of acting nonchalant, of what anyone there might think of her.  It was a mini Billy Elliot moment.

Evidence of Easter festivities lingered.  The kids headed home for the weekend with goodly prizes of candy.

We headed over for choir practice and Maundy Thursday service, where I got to sing probably my favorite hymn ever, Sing My Tongue the Glorious Battle.  Somber? Maybe, but all these little blessings made it seem as if something was straining to burst out of the tomb.


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