Of course I had to put the three dots after "Easter morning..." I am typing this three days after the fact, yet I'm still smiling about our... process... our messiness... the grace in our lostness... the victory and the hope that Easter stands for...
Nothing went as planned on Easter... at least not in our household... No "sunrise breakfast" like the ones we attended when I was growing up. No favorite service at the Spokane Arena. We rose late, hurried through a breakfast made by LeRoy -- delicious sausage & eggs, blueberry pancakes -- got our ragamuffin selves together, and straggled to the van. The children shot hoops "on the way" with "...wait! Just one more!"
We drove to Metterich, found the parking lot full, but not before trying to jimmie our van into an awkward space that ended up being too small -- all in full view of the entire congregation sitting in the service looking out on the parking lot through picture windows. At first I smiled. Then I giggled. I imagined it might be a little like showing up late at the Crystal Cathedral. We finally un-jimmied our van from its predicament and found a spot along the street.
Our family, cantankerous and evidently confused, "Why are we going to church this late?" my husband asked as we tip-toed in single file toward the back door of the church. And I hoped that my eyes conveyed what I didn't think we should get into right then. We slinked -- more or less -- to the back doors of the sanctuary where we found people crammed in right up to the doors and in the aisles, too. We resolutely occupied a lonely pew along the wall outside the sanctuary doors. But as we sat, we discovered the possible reason this pew was outside rather than inside the sanctuary. Like walking on floorboards through an ancient house in the middle of the night, the bench creaked, squeaked, and groaned under the weight of the six of us. Me and the children attempted to stifle our giggles. Can you imagine LeRoy's expression then?
I guess we were about 40 minutes late -- meaning we arrived for the last portion of the sermon and the special music at the end. At first the children said they couldn't hear the pastor but then I whispered that this was a practice in holding "perfectly still and not saying a word."
As we sat there, I looked at our rag-tag group. The messiness of us. I giggled -- and sighed -- to myself as I surrendered to the thought that we represented a fine family of heathens. I was impressed by the miracle of my daughter wearing a dress and letting me pull her hair back in a ponytail. And I sat in awe, yet again, of the Reason we can live with so much hope, joy, peace. The Reason we went to church in spite of... ourselves. The Reason.
After church we went to the park down the street. I wandered over to the village's cemetary and walked around for a few minutes.
The graves are always tended to with elaborate and beautiful gardening arrangements and candles are kept lit.
I thought a lot about Easter... and these graves... these lives... hope... eternity... the Empty Tomb.
My favorite headstones were the ones with an empty cross -- the ones that depict "It is finished."
Our family played on the really cool zip line...
...swung as high as possible on the funky swing...
...and the children humored us mothers by posing for the photo op.
Jadi and Israel posed for a "princess picture." I realized I'll have to dress Israel up all over again and take pictures. By the time we got to the park, she had changed back into her play clothes. What I love is that she feels like a princess regardless of T-shirt and jeans, complete with a rip in the knee.
And there it is, that realization that in the midst of failed plans, bad attitudes, best efforts, tattered clothing... there is still the reality of the Crucifixion... and an Empty Tomb. The ultimate victory over death. The love and the grace poured out freely, in abundance... because we are His passion...
Thank You, Jesus!
"We love Him, because He first loved us." (I John 4:19)