This was our family’s third Pascha since converting to Orthodoxy. The Lord has blessed us with three years of spiritual growth and beautiful memories. Pascha is now my favorite holiday of the year, and I am doing my best to instill that love in my children as well! This year our festivities included daily Holy Week services, the Paschal Vigil, 2 egg hunts, a HUGE feast, and of course dyeing eggs. We had a blast and are now all in recovery mode.
I wanted to share a few pictures of our celebration with you!
Good Friday is upon us and my soul is filled with sadness. Perhaps it is the extra hormones rushing through my pregnant body, but I can’t stop thinking of how Mary must have felt as she watched her Son go limp on the cross… The same hands she held were pierced with nails. The same baby toes she was overwhelmed with the desire to kiss, were now stained with blood. She must have felt so empty…
Tonight my soul longs for Pascha. My heart misses the bells on the censor and the decorated altar. I want to proclaim “Christ is Risen from the dead,” but for now the house is quiet.
Crickets are chirping in the darkness outside.
An ambulance is parked in front of our neighbors house.
An amber alert for two children was announced on the radio.
Tonight the world mourns…
“O my people, what have I done to you? How have I offended you? Answer me!
I gave you a royal sceptre, but you gave me a crown of thorns.
I raised you to the height of majesty, but you have raised me high on a cross.”
Every Sunday morning Liturgy goes the same way. I quickly grab service books as Renee and Nora bolt towards the Nave. Like runners in a marathon, sticky fingers are dipped in holy water, icons are kissed, and beeswax candles are lit. Then proudly my two little ducklings waddle to our usual spot – close to loved ones but yet close enough to the door so we can sneak away at the beginning of meltdowns.
These days it takes about twenty minutes until little Nora needs a bathroom break. Out the door of the nave we march. Then, due to the tasted freedom, Renee will start to whine about being bored. “Be patient,” I whisper while swaying a cranky Nora back and forth. For a moment things are calm, but then the girls start to argue. Back out we march for a timeout. “Can you find the icon of your Saint?” I attempt a quiet game during the sermon, but the excited exclamations once the icon is found once again force us back into the narthex.
Our “in and out” dance continues for the remainder of the service. The experience is often draining, but also rewarding. Between the disruptions I hear Renee singing hymns along with the choir. And as I whisper prayers into Nora’s soft fuzzy hair, she replies “Amen.” Then at the climax of the service, I get the honor of watching my children partake of the Eucharist. No sight is more beautiful.
Orthodoxy and motherhood is not an easy combination. On the average day it feels like a game of survival. However, this is the path that I was called to walk. This is the cross that I was given to bear. With each passing day my children strip me of all pride and selfishness. Each time I bow my head under the epitrachelion and admit my failures as a Mom, God heals my soul a little more. As I take Communion with my family I feel our sacred bond strengthen.
This ancient path is worthwhile. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.