As my family and I continue to find our way after many years in a non-denominational church, my husband and I have wondered over rituals we’ve established and those we’ve failed to establish. Easter has been a holiday like that for us this year and memory, the critical element surrounding rituals and tradition that affect us most. Ours is an effort to define holy days for our family.
Although I remember the traditional celebratory offerings my mother shared with me (egg dying, candy, the Easter Bunny and food) I have not brought them into my life as a parent. The church that formed my behavior around holidays stressed knowing the history and celebrating the truth of a savior above participating in what they’d call pagan rituals. So there was no bunny, no candy, no colored eggs. Any ritual revolved around the fact that we didn’t have any.
Lately I’ve been sorry over it. Particularly now, when ritual and the contemplative arts have become so important to me. I want my children to have joyful memories surrounding holidays that involve traditions and rituals, something they can wrap their memories around.
This year, after church, we took them to see the orchid show at the New York Botanical Garden and have decided it will be an Easter family tradition. The energy and promise of new life in the garden at this particular time in the year is pretty close to magical.
In the garden I believed in magic, in the hope of revival and the expectancy of an affirmative answer to my prayers.
But it’s been a struggle to be hopeful in the middle of so many questions. As much as I want all things to be made new I sometimes wonder if watering and replanting is enough.
A fascination with the holy days of the year greens within me. My faith is flowering in ways I never imagined. As I lean into a private reverence for this phase of my journey – the rituals and tradition ground me to the God I believe in. At the same time, I’ve felt dry and depleted – too much like a word I’ve always had a problem with – barren. How can that be?
A friend brought to my attention that this year, during Holy Week, Good Friday fell on the same day as the Feast day of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin. It reminded me how birth and death coexist. And the beauty of Christ in all.
A sorrowful day full of grief and the unknown of death, the intense pain and heartbreak of the crucifixion, the concept of Good Friday leaves me wondering over hope. I know resignation and the gut wrenching acceptance of things we wish were not … but are. I’ve had more than enough reasons to imagine an end.
Like most of us, I have to work hard to remember to believe for resurrection – to not simply believe what I see.
Mary’s acceptance is a yes to God. She agrees to enter the wilderness of an impossible situation. The feast of the Annunciation celebrates her “wilder yes”. Mary’s yes leads to the birth of a son and savior – all after dying to self.
Any calling is a great responsibility and I’ve wrestled this week with the weight of the things Gods called me to do. From moving forward as a homeschooling mama and seminary student, to ministering in dance when asked, to pressing forward with the belief that some of the broken things in my family can be mended – I wonder if I have anything to offer, anything left to say. If I am, or if I’ve ever been qualified.
But … Good Friday and the possibility of a story not ending but beginning
And the Annunciation … and the power and possibility of birthing something great after a hard yes.
So yes! We went to the garden. The garden was the perfect place to consider rituals centered on resurrection.
The garden was what we needed.
Let your handmaiden find grace in your sight … #GiveMeGrace