After having spent six million years in bed the night before, I feel even better in the morning. I assemble a list of errands to run roughly 3 miles long, and herd everyone in the van for “Errand Time Is Family Time”. The first place on our list is Munsons Chocolates, which has been our Holy Saturday tradition ever since we’ve moved to Connecticut. I take the kids in, two at a time, and they pick out their one piece of Easter candy. Then I repeat the process until everyone’s gotten their choice, and then Ken and I endure 24 hours of “Is it Easter yet? Can we have our candy? Why can’t we have our candy yet? Caaaaaaaaannnnnndddddeeeeeeee!”
Munsons trip over for the year, we continue to the next four places on our list, finishing up at the grocery store while Ken and Lotus get things for Easter dinner while I’m trapped in the car with four crazy boys. Ridiculously, I feel horrible by the time we get home, despite having spent most of the errands sitting in the van. I’m sent to bed, Ken brings the computer to the bedroom so I can watch ghost hunter shows and get chastised by Nurse Ken for not eating enough dinner. He opens discussions about Easter Mass attendance by telling me that I shouldn’t go because I need to rest for my sake and for the baby’s sake. I counter with the very valid observation that the baby is full term and if simply attending Mass is going to put me in labor, then I was probably going to go into it regardless.
He glares at me. I glare back. He puts the kids to bed and we spend the rest of the night watching ghost hunter shows and debating the subtle differences between EVP recordings and necromancy.
I wake up and get out of bed before Ken does. I make breakfast that doesn’t involve cereal. I give three boys haircuts and curl the girl’s hair. I pretend to be conserving energy and suggest that Ken give the boys their baths, but really I just don’t want to bathe those heathens. I track down outfits. I track down shoes. I get showered and dressed and ready. I make sure everyone is ready a full two hours before we have to leave for Mass, because I’m not going to let last-minute emergencies derail things. I have a Tabernacle to kneel in front of and yet another apology to make to God. I take a family photo, and post it to the Internet, viewing the inclusion of my gigantic self as a last minute act of mortification.
We get to Mass, park, and thanks to my neurotic time management, are seated 20 minutes early. All the kids are so well behaved that my heart sinks, since I know it’ll mean that by the time Mass starts, they’ll be burnt out and screaming. I kneel in front of the Tabernacle and apologize for slacking off so much during Lent.
But I don’t feel guilt, or anxiety, or self-loathing.
I try again. I think about all the plans I made at the beginning of Lent, and how I didn’t follow through on any of them, and I was completely unprepared for this gift of Easter and I don’t deserve it.
Still nothing. I felt…calm. Peaceful.
Puzzled, I sat back in my seat and idly watched Gabriel and John-Luke, happily occupying themselves with pens and sketch pads. Puzzled, I stood for the processional. Puzzled, I watched Father incense the altar, and crossed myself, and listened to all the readings.
Puzzled, I stared at the Crucifix at the front of the church. This was Easter Sunday. The holiest of days, when all of humanity is shown that no matter what terrible things we do to God, His Love for us is greater. While it was good and useful to be aware of our sinfulness, the scope of Easter is beyond that. Easter doesn’t depend on my behavior during Lent, because Easter is bigger than even my stupid, selfish behavior.
In fact, I could hear my guardian angel telling me, “Just sit back and enjoy this. Soak it in.”
So I did just that.
I came home and sat on the kitchen bench while my husband made Easter dinner. I talked with my neighbor who picks up groceries for me so I don’t have to drag all the kids with me to get a gallon of milk and some bread. I called my mom who asked for the twentieth time if I wanted her to drive up that very moment to come help out.
I realized that my attempt to turn life into a perpetual Lent so that I could “earn” Easter put me at risk of missing the chance to sit back and soak in all the Easter that surrounded me. Easter was in the Risen Lord, and in my husband who prays for me and sacrifices for me, and in my neighbors who love me as they love themselves, and in family who would hop in a car at a moment’s notice to come demonstrate the heart of service like Christ showed in washing the Apostle’s feet.
Easter is everywhere. And I’m so grateful that the Church has fifty days in the Liturgical year set aside for it, so we can squeeze out every last miraculous drop. And who knows, maybe by Pentecost Sunday, I’ll have finally gotten a family Easter picture that doesn’t look like a still from a Wes Anderson movie.
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