Holy Week started with a bang at our house. My daughter woke me up at 3:00 Sunday morning to tell me her tummy hurt. Next thing I know, she’s throwing up in the bathroom. It was a terrible day to have a stomach bug. Palm Sunday is special: you get to wear your fanciest, take a decorated candle to church, and take part in an exciting palm branch “parade.” (Seriously, people at my church get into it, yelling “Hosanna!” at the top of their voices.) Plus, we had planned to go to my mom’s house for lunch and then to her church for an Easter Egg Hunt. Poor Madeleine.
This week is truly the busiest of the year, and I’m inclined to get stressed out instead of wading in the spiritual depth of it all. One thing I did yesterday was to make two big meals (vegetarian chili and baked ziti), then divide them up into portions and freeze them. Each morning I’ll put a couple of servings in the refrigerator so they’ll be defrosted when we get home and we just have to warm up in the microwave! Cooking dinner is thus eliminated! I have yet to buy food for my Pascha basket (Orthodox Christians have a big feast after the Pascha, or Easter, liturgy.), but it will be simple this year. Beef jerky. Cheese. Cheap wine.
So here goes. A week of services that will point my spirit toward God, a week that will put me back in Jerusalem. We’ve already seen Jesus raise Lazarus and enter Jerusalem on the donkey. By the end of the week, we will have seen Him nailed to the cross, decorated His tomb, lamented His death along with His Mother and the myrrh-bearing women, and seen Him risen again.
Am I ready for Holy Week? The earthly part of me says no. I’m not ready for long drives to and from church and dealing with the kids during the services and so on and so forth. But my spirit says yes. It needs to be anointed, quieted, renewed, healed.
I hung out with Rilke for a while last night, and instantly identified with his words:
In deep nights I dig for you like treasure.
For all I have seen
that clutters the surface of my world
is poor and paltry substitute
for the beauty of you
that has not happened yet . . .
My hands are bloody from digging,
I lift them, hold them open in the wind,
so they can branch like a tree.
Reaching, these hands would pull you out of the sky
as if you had shattered there,
dashed yourself to pieces in some wild impatience.
What is this I feel falling now,
falling on this parched earth,
like spring rain?
– Rainer Maria Rilke, Book of Hours, The Book of Pilgrimage, II,34