The day before Easter

Okay, I’ll admit it. Blogging is weird. As much as I insist to myself and in my writing that I’m doing this for me (I am doing this for me! And it’s helping!) — it’s clearly the case that I write differently given that there are other people who might be reading it. At the moment, that’s obvious to me because if I were just writing for me, I would be able to just start writing about all of the connections between Easter weekend in 2017 and Easter weekend in 2019. I’d weave together something about this post from Jen Hatmaker, and this news about Rachel Held Evans, and about the various twists and turns my faith pilgrimage has taken over these past couple of years, and about my weariness of the idea of “thoughts and prayers,” and about my weariness generally, and I’d work really hard — both in my brain and in my writing — to create something orderly and sensible out of the jumble of thoughts and memories and experiences and feelings. [FN1: There will be a post about “thoughts and prayers.” Just not today, or at least just not the way that I’m thinking about it today.] But I can’t really do that in this forum, because to get all of the thoughts and memories and experiences and feelings into words that would make sense to anyone who wasn’t along for the journey would turn this more into what happened then and less about what I’m processing now.

So instead, today, I just want to rebel a little. It’s Holy Saturday — or as Google made sure to point out to me: “sometimes just called ‘the day before Easter’.” The liturgical planner that I use and love is encouraging a practice of solitude, stillness, and silence today. It is reminding me that today is the last day of Holy Week, and that it is considered a day of mourning. And given the various ways that I am walking in a season of death and grief, it could make sense to accept the book’s invitation to spend today pondering the questions of “How willing am I to enter into the suffering of Jesus?” or “How am I responding to the reality of his arrest, death, and burial?” I think, perhaps, in the jumbled mix of thinking I’ve been doing but not writing about this morning, I’ve wrestled with some of those things.

But I’m not going to mourn today. Instead, I’m going to spend the day in a space of grateful celebration. I am going to celebrate, first of all, that I am in Washington DC with a herd of my cousins because one of them is getting married. The gang is all here, and this is a gang that just knows how to have a great time. I am going to rejoice in all of the ways that the giant age gaps between my dad and his two older siblings has created a cascade of “big cousins” and “little cousins” — and I’ve been the little cousin, and then the big cousin, and now my kids are the little cousins — and it’s just…beautiful.

It’s beautiful to see the big — and bigger! — cousins embracing my son in all of his Poke-obsessed glory. They play Nintendo Switch with him, and Pokemon GO with him, and Nintendo DS with him. They listen to him, and encourage him, and marvel at him…they LOVE him. They love him even when he complains bitterly — endlessly — about how “burned” his fried egg is. They laugh along at all of his nine-year-old-boy Mad Lib penis jokes. They smile knowingly when he blurts out something completely and brutally honest in situations where anyone else would filter his or her words through a lens of social grace. They’re just here. Which, for a little guy whose dad just…isn’t…and for a little guy who seems to be tumbling slowly into the “any attention is good attention” spiral….is definitely something to celebrate.

Especially because the time and space and attention and love that they give him opens up the space in his little head to lay down with me and tell me the story of the Wings of Fire books he’s been devouring at a rate of 1.5 novels per day. Time and space to tell me about all of the dragon family trees, and all of the battles, and all of the details that I *never* keep track of when I plow through a novel. [FN2: As a point of comparison, his usual answer to my inquiries about the books he’s reading is “It’s complicated, Mom. If you really want to know, just read them yourself.” #noted.] But today, I know all about the war that the dragons are fighting in order to determine who will be the next queen, and I know that my son — even when he doesn’t tell me about it — is wrestling himself with big ideas like death and war and jealousy and loyalty and courage. That’s no small thing, and that’s worth celebrating.

Their love and attention creates the space for him to be able to look me in the eye for more than a split second; to be able to really hear me when I tell him how proud I am of him, and how handsome he looks in his already-too-small-for-him-even-though-we-just-bought-it-in-December suit and tie, and how grateful I am for the chance to listen to what he’s reading about and thinking about. It creates the space for him to — in his guileless and living truth serum sort of way — answer “Love to[o] You” instead of “Uh-huh” or “Good” or “Thanks” when I say “I love you.”

This sort of time and space isn’t usually accessible in our frenzied life — and for a weary Tired Mama, this sort of time and space is priceless. So today, I’m going to rebel. I’m going to be present in the circumstances that are here before me, and, with humble and grateful recognition of Jesus’ crucifixion and burial — I’m going to start early on the celebration of new life, and new joy, and new freedom. And I will wait with hopeful expectation that I can continue that celebration tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. But today I am here, and here — and now — is worth celebrating.

It is a quotidian mystery that dailiness can lead to such despair and yet also be at the core of our salvation. We want life to have meaning, we want fulfillment, healing and even ecstasy, but the human paradox is that we find these things by starting where we are, not where we wish we were. We must look for blessings to come from unlikely, everyday places — out of Galilee, as it were — and not in spectacular events, such as the coming of the comet.

Kathleen Norris, The Quotidian Mysteries

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