Easter Flowers

Although written years ago, it rings true today……

Easter is my favorite time of year. Not Christmas or Thanksgiving.

It is without a doubt, Easter.

It signals the beginning of Spring, the awaking of a new season and the end of the liturgical year. Ordinary time begins.

When I was a young girl, the signal of the Easter season was the announcement that we were going to the department stores to buy our Easter Outfits. A time when my sisters and I would go with my mother to pick out a flowery dress, white patent leather shoes with a purse to match, and white gloves. Of course, the outfit wouldn’t be complete without a hat. One with a flower on it.

This probably launched my obsession with fashion and buying the best I could get my hands on. I would start in February looking through the J.C. Penny catalogue, scoping out the pages to find the perfect outfit. I would circle the little girl models wearing the dresses I was interested in, what I would hope my mom would buy instead of make. As a twelve year old girl, laying on my stomach while watching t.v., I would alternate between Dark Shadows and the Big Book, hoping to find the perfect dress while feeding my infatuation for Quentin Collins. When I was old enough to wear my first ¼ inch heels, I felt like I had arrived, a true woman. I would walk around the block like I had somewhere important to be, practicing walking in “heels.” The neighbors must have thought I was nuts, muttering to themselves there goes that goofy Loveman girl again. I didn’t care.

The Easter basket of candy is also the reward for the lenten denial of chocolate. Every year I would await the “arrival” of the Easter Bunny, who always rang the doorbell of our house, right before he hopped away after depositing mine and my sibling’s baskets. I was intent on catching him one Easter, so determined was I that I awoke at 4:00 a.m. and waited near the door. I found out later my father had to sneak out the back door to go around the house to ring the front doorbell, as I stood outside watching for the darned bunny who had eluded me once again! How did he get away so quickly? Up one side of the street and down the other, my eyes never noticed Dad laughing crouched down in the bushes.

But perhaps the most vivid arrival of the Easter season is the announcement of the Easter flowers. They appear everywhere, in front of Walmart, on the corner near the gas stations, in every drug store. Flower shops and greenhouses are great meccas of joy for me. They fill up my senses with the sweetness and aroma of a world somewhere else, where all things are good and all people are kind. I could walk for hours up and down the aisle, just taking in the beauty. I love Tulips and Mums, but my favorite flower is the Hydrangea, the second favorite the Lilac. How lucky for me that I ended up in Rochester, the Lilac capital of the world, even boasting a festival!

It is a small miracle to walk into my house and smell the flowers left there by my children, who know of my passion for the smells and emotions of Easter. Sometimes they are in pots, sometimes in bunches or in vases. Some are even wild, like they have been pulled from someone’s yard. When they were younger, they would wrap them in wet toilet tissue and leave them on the kitchen table. I didn’t care. I love flowers almost as much as the children who have found them for me, even though they are no longer little and would scoff at giving me anything wrapped in wet toilet tissue. They are the most poignant and truest expression of love I can receive and I look forward to their arrival every year.

Happy Easter to my children and my friends, both past and future. May you experience the true beauty of the Easter season, receiving the expression of love you deserve.

 

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The Easter Tablecloth

ImageI have a faded pink and white tablecloth used only on Easter Sunday, and has seen its share of holidays over the years. I bought it when I was newly married and thought to myself “this should last a few years….”

Ground in Easter bread crumbs, tomato sauce and red wine with dinner have graced it, as well as coffee rings and chocolate bunnies. It has survived food fights (not the good kind) and little fingers smashing hidden peas under plates. Yet it amazes me every time I take it from the linen closet, there are no tell tale remnants of such stains, and even the largest of marks have faded away over time. There are few pieces of torn fabric only I can see, which would have no consequence to anyone else if they did notice it. It was the Easter Tablecloth, and everything was right with the world. To my eyes, it was as clean as the cloth on the altar at church we attended those mornings when things were still black and white, Priests were sinless and families were intact. It was reborn every year.

We never seem to celebrate a holiday on its actual date in my family, and Easter was no different. The fact it came early made it especially tenuous for making travel plans, with snow still on the ground and icy window panes framing vibrant Easter flowers on the table. Easter in March is like eating ice cream in a blizzard; it just seems to blend in.

Our dinner that year was on Saturday as traveling and work schedules made it so. We all met at my house on the lake, my children, their children and me.

A best friend of my sons’ also came out, always referred to as the fourth son;  it was a time of excitement and curiosity and catching up. Snuggling up with the grand kids, and documenting the first new steps of the baby, it was a cozy if somewhat snug afternoon of cooking and drinking and laughing in the kitchen.

I’ve often wondered if they would ever really forgive me for leaving their father, seemingly out of the blue to them, but a necessity for my survival. It was a confusing time of anger, fear and resentment, with acceptance only coming in short bursts of reality; this is how it is now and how it is going to be.

The next few years I tried to make the holidays as familiar as I could, with the same traditions and routines which tied them to their old life, while accommodating someone else who stood beside me. Things began to seem like they were in ‘the old days’, but not quite.

Calling everyone to dinner, it was time to gather in the big room, with different furniture and different seating arrangements than that of their childhood. The only thing familiar was the pink and white table cloth on the dining room table.

“This is our Easter Tablecloth” my daughter said, explaining its significance to those who didn’t already know.  “We’ve had it forever and it still looks like new. It’s as if it is reborn every year.”

Yes, I thought to myself. There are no tell-tale remnants of such stains, and even the largest of marks have faded away over time.

Every Easter Sunday, we are forgiven; we are reborn.

It was the Easter Tablecloth, and everything was right with the world.

The Good Friday Bet

Every Easter season my children and I have this little ritual.  It’s called the Good Friday Bet, and it is simply this:   I bet them $10 that on every Good Friday, at 3:00 pm, it will rain.


The first time I bet them, the youngest three were third, fourth and fifth graders in Catholic School.  It was something unique and different, a minor change in the routine, a new game to play.   Their teachers got a kick out of it, and all eyes were on the sky when the time arrived.


Usually, I would lose.


I probably owe them about $10,000 each by now.    It was something they always forgot about until I would bring it up again, as soon as Lent started.


After a while they’d roll their eyes and say Okay mom, I’m in knowing they never had to pay, because the few times I did win, they offhandedly would remark “I’ll owe ya”, as in the many time I “owed” them.
The entrance of high school brought  a new dimension to the picture, for they were rebelling against more than just me and my beliefs.  Growing pains and questions galore, we didn’t bet on Good Friday for several years.
Until one of my children when off to war. 


I thought of you and the Good Friday Bet” he wrote me shortly after that Easter.

I guess I owe you some money.  Because it did rain here.”


And thats what I wanted to impress on them all those years.  All the times when I would grin and say Yup, you won again, I owe ya.


I’d hope that they would one day get it.


It always rains on Good Friday at 3:00 pm somewhere.


Just as every Easter Sunday he rose again.


Keep the money, son.  I’ll owe ya.  Even though he became an atheist, I still pray for him and for others whose journey has led them down a different path and have a difficult time believing without seeing.  Even though Thomas was the only one who was ‘shown’ proof, I hope that one day he will be given the same gift.  All he has to do is see it.  


May you all have a happy and Blessed Easter.  Keep your eyes on the sky today.  It’s blue and clear, the promise of a wonderful day ahead.

CAT DANCING AT THE LIMINAL

Friday, September 18, 2009

There’s a certain time of the morning which has no specific name.

It’s the time before the sun has peeked between the clouds, but after the darkness of the night. It’s not yet dawn. To call it pre-dawn would diminish the intensity of the feeling, as if it’s a false start. This moment in time stands on its own, silent yet powerful.

The air is hazy, no matter what the season, be it winter or summer. The feeling of throwing off blankets while still half asleep surrounds me, precious seconds of quiet and calm. Its counterpart has to be the same as twilight is for sunset.

It’s the time before the rooster crows, the time before the rest of the world has turned off the alarm to get up and go, do what needs to be done, before heading back home again, to watch the sunset. There’s a fairyland atmosphere, a sense of wonderment and awe before the brightness of the sun has shown it’s true face.

It’s the time when walks are taken, to smell the crisp of the leaves not yet fallen to the ground, the waves pounding on the shore. The air is electric with an oncoming storm, causing the wind to blow between the branches like a carnival pipe organ, resting on one note before it moves on to another. Branches slap against the sides of barns and houses, as if they know their place in this symphony of sounds. The orchestra of the Lake is magnificent.

The barn cats sing their own good morning song as they meow for their mother, or saying hello to the passers by. For now I can only call it Cat Morning, for I haven’t a clue what it’s called. But I know it’s by far my favorite time of the day.

There has to be a name to this time in the morning. Someone once said to me it could perhaps be called the liminal, the state of in-between. I don’t know if its accurate, but it seems fitting.

May our eyes open again tomorrow to view the miraculous liminal. The tangible example of peace.