The Day of Rejoicing is a tradition in some Orthodox churches, on which we visit and bless graves on the second Tuesday after Easter. Last year I posted about this happy day, when we visit the cemetery and sing “Christ is risen!”
Our priest blesses graves at four cemeteries this day, but I was present at only one. I got a ride with my godmother and another friend, and we had in the car roses, eggs and eggshells that we would later place on the gravestones. It was a hot day, so we also carried umbrellas, and as we made our way to the service the smell of roses was ever present from within and without.
In the upper part of the cemetery is the grave of a very beloved priest who founded one of the local monasteries, so the nuns always come from there to sing at his grave. It’s the one with the exuberant rockrose, which this year was in all its glory. Father accepted a sunhat from the nuns, which he only removed during the reading of the Gospel.
We walked down to the newer and flatter area that has lawns instead of weeds, and completed the service there. Lots of bouquets, mostly of pretty artificial flowers, had been placed on various markers, but I liked best the California poppies that were decorating the older section.
One of the last prayers includes a phrase that I love, referring to our “quickly flowing, brief and temporal life,” after which our bodies will also sleep in the grave. We blessed the cemetery that it might be “a place of sweet sleep” for the bodies of these souls who wait for the time when they will receive them back, when all the dead will be resurrected, some to condemnation, and some to a Resurrection of Life.
Even now, with God’s help, we can live in that Life that Christ has given us, as we wait for the fullness of our own redemption, when we also will put on incorruption and immortality. We have much to be glad about on this day of rejoicing.
Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!