Here in our corner of Canada’s North we have a celebration each late winter called “Burning Away the Winter Blues”. Walkers join at dusk to walk along the water’s edge, pray for some glimpse of open water (this year we have had an early spring, and so plenty of it), and head toward a bonfire where they throw in an effigy aptly named Old Man Winter. The effigy’s have become more diverse and creative. This year it was a Woolly Mammoth made out of newspaper. Ysabeau called it a Wiggly Mammoth as it was carried by three or four puppeteers due to its size – and it certainly gave it the effect of looking quite “wiggly”.
Ethan was sick, and Xavier was asleep at home with Grandma, so we only had Ysabeau and Elise (our wonderful part-time nanny from Germany) with us. Ysabeau fell asleep for the walk only to wake up precisely at the moment when the effigy was being thrown into the fire! To say the least, she was a little disoriented.
Our newspaper had a a little write up in which one of the organizers highlighted the pagan elements she sees in this northern tradition we have. As a Catholic, I too can appreciate the truths of our human story found in many celebrations. As C.S. Lewis wrote (a devout Christian who might have become a Catholic) in an address to the Socratic Club at Oxford where he taught:
The Divine light, we are told, ‘lighteneth every man.’ We should, therefore, expect to find in the imagination of great Pagan teachers and myth makers some glimpse of that theme which we believe to be the very plot of the whole cosmic story—the theme of incarnation, death, and rebirth.”
So we followed this little celebration with one that holds immense importance for me. Easter!
I love a finely set table! Easter provides an opportunity for plenty of tablecloth and extra plates. Our friends had us over on Holy Thursday for example of what a Seder meal might be like. It was lovely.
What you see, of course, was not the whole meal (there was lamb, fish and more) but these aperitifs were symbolic of the passover; bitter herbs symbolizing the bitterness and harshness of the slavery the Jews endured in Ancient Egypt, a hard-boiled egg symbolizing the sacrifice made, and Charoset which is a pebbly paste of apple and nuts that represents the mortar used by Hebrew slaves to build the storehouses of Egypt.
We had 11 kids around 3 different tables. This only makes sense as the Seder meal, in Jewish homes, still has a focus on children. The presentation of these foods on the plate is meant to arouse their senses and curiosity – “Why is this night different from all other nights”.
There is an “intrinsic kinship” between Judaism and Christianity and this has been beautifully captured in this relatively new reflection out of the Vatican entitled: The gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.
We also had a lovely Easter meal at our house with family.
We have these great Usborne Lift the Flap books (another recommendation from my friend Claire). Ysabeau is both fascinated and horrified by the Usborne Body Book.She doesn’t quite get the concept yet of what is on the inside. Holding the book she asks:
“What am I even doing here in this life?”
“Um, well….” [she caught me off guard with that one]
“Do I have blood vessels”
“Yes, you are a human being” [I was trying to keep it simple here)
“No I’m not. Jacob _____ isn’t human?” [a kid she knows from daycare who came across as more superhero than human]
“Oh yes he is.”
I love the train (or rather the “jump-on/jump-off bus”) of thought. But also equally glad I don’t have to sort this stuff out for myself on a daily basis. It must be exhausting.
Continuing with Ethan’s growing interest in Saints (not easily distinguished from superheros at this point), he created a saint hotel (very cute). I love the Rules (I think that should read “no fighting”), and the list of guests.
I also appreciate the no dogs or cats – not a big fan of animal hair. But he loves them so I was a bit surprised by that one. Maybe he is aware that this is just a general rule in most hotels.
closet puppet theatre the kids asked for some Saint Hotel entertainment. I’m glad to see Pope Francis, Princess Somebody and Strawberry Shortcake in attendance. Good company.
Easter is obviously a wonderful season for celebrations in the church. Here are some scenes from Holy Thursday. Tradition sees the Bishop wash the feet of parishioners in imitation of Jesus at the Last Supper.
Once of my favorite times during the Easter Triduum is when the priest processes out of the church with the Eucharist into the special side chapel where people keep vigil through the night.
It’s all very ceremonial but also deeply meaningful. The only time our little parish gets a bit of good ol’ incense as well. If you wanna be a church, smell like a church.
Overall, this week I am finding it hard to keep my thoughts straight, my lists short and my floors clean (that is a constant struggle), my goals unattained. It feels frantic everywhere, and mostly inside my head.
I saved a quote from my favourite blog and it is helping me this week. This wise woman wrote about those (all of us at some point, like me) who run everywhere to try and create some sense of order, or maybe even excitement, all the while missing contentment by a long shot. This is how she suggests we find it:
Not running out the door! Not by being frantic! Not by trying to escape from home…They miss the most rewarding and fulfilling aspect of the family, which is the actual, somewhat mundane, activity of raising persons entrusted to your care: Love that is striving to build something lasting together, each person overcoming his own selfishness — controlling it, in fact — for the sake of the others.
This post is a link up with Like Mother, Like Daughter.