Is there too much "Ease" in Easter? On this holiest day of the Christian calendar I feel abandoned by my family. Because I know I'm not alone, I'm sharing my angst.
Father Hercek loves a colorful congregation on Easter Sunday so I put on my brightest bonnet and take myself to church. I arrive early to celebrate in song and sermon with my sisters and brothers in Christ. By the final blessing I have hugged twenty people, have been moved to tears at little girls and boys fresh from their First Holy Communion. Songs of jubilation ring in my ears, songs of rebirth and hope and thankfulness.
For an hour (make that an hour and a half, Father Hercek has a captive audience on holidays,) I glow like a new bride. There is nowhere on earth I would rather be on this glorious Spring morning than in church.
Driving home I sing “Come, Worship the Lord” while my eyes fill with tears because I’m feeling embraced by the Holy Spirit. I want to share my joy with the whole world.
Once home I step into my kitchen ready to spill out Easter blessings on my family, but no one answers my call. The household is still asleep. In the next hour they straggle out, husband, three children, young adults all. My middle daughter is exhausted from having worked a double shift at her restaurant job, The oldest has stayed up until the wee hours, catching up with cousins who are only in town for the weekend. My son is off to go motorcycle riding with another cousin. My husband is on the phone, arranging to meet a buyer for his street motorcycle, an out-of-towner on his way home.
I call my sister to confirm lunch at my house: pork roast, applesauce, angel food cake with pink icing, but she hedges, frazzled from trying to fit everything into a busy weekend schedule. She’s staying with Mom, who has had another tiny stroke during the night, worn out from the excitement, and is too weak to make it to Mass. My sister needs to fix breakfast and watch over Mom.
Guilty because she lives four hours away, it is her turn to help.
In the end I take off my Easter finery and join my family for a catch-as-catch-can breakfast before everyone goes off in different directions. My sixteen-year-old will eat when he returns at dusk.
As the afternoon wanes I try to recapture the early morning's hope. Still, I can't help wonder what is wrong with us. I don’t think we’re alone. I don’t think I’m the only mother who ever felt like she’s failed in her spiritual guidance.
As soon as they graduated my children demonstrated their "grown-up" independence by eschewing their Catholic upbringing for an extra hour of sleep.
"We're a Christian family," I remind them. "Easter is Our Day." It doesn't matter that I voiced my hopes the day before in hopes of an old-fashioned bring-us-together Easter morning: church and sit-down dinner.
But again this year Easter Sunday feels like a "morning after."
For our large extended family, Good Saturday is Easter Bunny Day: a family picnic, chocolate bunnies, egg hunt and all the fun stuff. I don't deny that I love it. We adults organize a softball game while the kids whack away at a pinata. Later we catch up on family gossip while we graze our way from grilled linguica appetizers to a whole smoked pig, all the way to homemade ice cream. This is great stuff. It's the next day that drives me to tears.
Is it too much to ask that my family attend Mass with me, share an hour of elation and rebirth before they go about their business? When she's rested, Mom feels the same way. During Holy Week we attended reconciliation service and vowed that this year we would attend church as a family. But once again the Easter Bunny foiled our plans.
Now it’s Easter evening. If I feel cheated, I wonder what Jesus is feeling.
How about you? Anybody ever felt in the same boat?