The hymns of Pascha and Bright Monday are playing themselves in my mind every day, all day long, like heavenly prayers. Christ is risen indeed! And my house is filled with honeysuckle scent, as a consequence of a long gardening party I’ve been having with myself.
I’ve been on my hands and knees in the dirt quite a bit this week. Above you can see one perennial bed I’ve been thinning and re-planting. Eleven tomato plants have been tucked into various places all over the yard, and in order to make a sunny home for one of them it was necessary to severely prune the honeysuckle vine that was starting to bloom profusely. Beforehand, as I walked past it several times, the sweetness almost made me woozy, and reminded me of the lilies in church on Holy Friday, as at a funeral.
I couldn’t bear to throw all the prunings into the yard waste bin, so I cut carefully and put the trimmings in three vases to enjoy indoors. There were still so many left, I filled another jarful to give to a neighbor, but it’s still here, too. Even though the petals are drying and starting to fall on the table, all of this flowery flavor is still permeating my days.
A wonderful story was passed on to us on the blog Mystagogy, of the Athonite monk Elder Porphyrios (1906-1991) who on a Bright Tuesday visited his cardiologist, overflowing with Easter brightness and quoting a hymn:
What happiness is in the Resurrection! “And leaping for joy, we celebrate the Cause.” Have you ever seen the little goats now in the spring who jump on the grass? They eat a little from their mother and begin to jump again? This is what it means to leap – to jump. This is how we should also jump for unspeakable joy at the Resurrection of our Lord and our own.
It is a sweet and not long anecdote you can read here.
There is this lightness and heavenly singing, but pressing in on all sides, sorrow and pain. In the lives of extended family, and friends near and far, things happen even in Bright Week that reek of death. A husband commits suicide, a child dies suddenly and mysteriously, a sweet woman becomes incapacitated with irrational fears….
How to make sense of it all? How to carry the joy along with the burdens of the people you love? It probably requires a measure of the Holy Spirit I haven’t acquired in order to do a good job of it. My joy is often a shallow emotionality, and certainly my burden-bearing is hampered by laziness and the distraction of my own burdens that I needlessly carry.
Or is it needlessly? It was only a short time ago I was ruminating on the yoke of Christ — and He did say His burden is light. He was exhorting us to take up His yoke. I want to “be there” for people who are hurting, and often the only thing to do, and it’s not minor, is to bring them to God’s throne in my heart and prayers. If I will just stay there I should be able to hold on to this sweetness and Light as well.
Christ is risen!