|A Good Friday at a Great Place|
Today, Easter, marks the end of Holy Week. This special week started with Palm Sunday one week ago and included Maundy Thursday services, Good Friday services, Easter vigil and today's Easter celebrations. It has been a week - and season - chock full of events that have been thought provoking and encouraging.
Palm Sunday was busy. B sang in a children's choir at a church here in town that offers a children's choir. She had to be there at 7:40, so I dropped her off, headed to our church for service and then met the rest of our family plus my mom to hear B sing. B had spent weeks learning the songs she sang and it was moving to hear her sing praises.
Maundy Thursday found me at St. B's alone. J met me there and headed home with the girls, giving me the chance to experience the quiet seriousness of this evening alone. At my silent retreat several weeks ago, I spent time in the passage in John where Jesus washes the feet of his disciples, so it was meaningful to get to participate in having my feet washed and washing the feet of someone else. While part of the mandate of Maundy Thursday is to serve others, I think I am in a season of learning to receive, not just give. We've been at St. B's for a year now, and I feel like we would know more people and be able to give back were I to volunteer in a ministry. Yet every time I try to think of a place to serve, I feel like God tells me to stay put, keep doing what I'm doing and try to graciously receive. Thursday's Holy Week service was about me remembering we are called not just to give, but to receive. If we spend all of our time and energy giving, we'll run out of time, energy and things to give.
Good Friday was a good day for our family. It started with sweet treats from our favorite neighborhood bakery. J had to work, but he made a quick sweets run before heading south to TSC. This meant the girls and I got to start our day with ginger peach crumble, chocolate cinnana coffee cake, hot cross buns and more. The girls celebrated by watching a movie on TV and I had a few quiet moments to start my new bible study. Then we headed to one of our favorite places in Nashville. After all, what better way to celebrate Good Friday than in a garden? We packed a picnic lunch and ate by the ponds. While the girls lunched, I read to them about Good Friday from a library book on the liturgical year. The first sentence I read was, "Good Friday is a day of bitterness and mourning."
"Wait a minute!" B said. "Bitterness and mourning? This has been a great day so far. We got to have breakfast from Sweet 16th, watch a movie and now we're at Cheekwood. This day isn't bitter." We talked about why the book might describe Good Friday in this way - and why it's called "good" if it involves bitterness and mourning. They each offered very thoughtful responses and we finally decided it was a bittersweet day, not a bitter one. After an eventful time at Cheekwood that included the first (but probably not last) slip into the pond by one of my daughters, a tour of the herb gardens and a look at the lily mosaics, we headed to St. B's to walk the stations of the cross.
I'll be honest that none of my daughters were especially excited to head to church on a Friday evening. B was especially vocal about this, but we went anyway. I thought an outdoor church service that involved walking and hearing the story of Good Friday at each station would be something new and different. The weather was beautiful and the girls did enjoy it far more than a traditional service. We went out with friends for pizza after the service, which will hopefully make it easier to get them there for next year's service.
As we've approached Easter and Lent's ending, I've had bittersweet feelings about this season ending. B and I chatted Friday evening about what grade we would give ourselves for how well we fulfilled our Lenten vows. (We both agreed we probably merited a B or so.) As we broached this subject with the rest of our family this morning on the drive to church, J reminded the girls and I of a point I made near the beginning of Lent - that Lent should lead us into ordinary time. We should not start Easter morning by shrugging off all of our Lenten vows and go right back to being who we were before.
The bulk of our time is lived in ordinary time. And that's the challenge, isn't it? To live holy during the ordinary days, not just Holy Week. What does this look like? I'm not sure except to say that I won't be returning to caffeinated coffee in the mornings (my headaches were surprisingly lower in frequency, if not severity without caffeine) and I hope to be more committed to making time for creativity and self-care in my life. I've seen its importance over the last forty days and I've also seen how easy it is for me to let it slip off of my to-do list when more pressing tasks vie for my attention.
Lent isn't usually a season that we want to extend. We're eager to get back to our Cokes, our lax habits, our less intentional way of living. But Lent has been a sweet time for me this year and instead of being grateful to have it end, I'm hopeful that its lessons will do their work to make me more holy over time.