Aching for Pascha

Recently, I discovered an old blog post from 2007 written by this stretched-thin mother during Holy Week. It took me right back to seventeen years ago when my children were small, flooding my heart with nostalgia. Even though my parental challenges are quite different these days, I still relate so profoundly to the spiritual struggles and longing expressed candidly in this piece of writing. This week on the blog, I'm letting my past self share my reflections on yearning desperately for the Resurrection. 


My son is in a funk. “Leave me alone!” he yelled at his siblings, whose every movement he viewed as a ploy to annoy him. Separated in his room, he lies on the bed, sulking and pouting, grumbling under his breath about the unfairness of being eight years old. Usually, I would scold him for his contemptuousness, but today, I, too, am in a funk and on edge, so I lie down next to him, fighting back tears of frustration. 


There are days when I feel discouraged, moments when I feel ambivalent, and then times when my spiritual pulse is scarcely discernible amidst the tragic disease of my stubborn doubt and defiance. I am beyond aware of the depths of the depravity in my soul.


I coasted some. I let down my guard, seeing the finish line ahead. I foolishly reasoned I could take it from here and ran, on my own, towards Pascha. A morning, however, not guarded by prayer leaves a heart more vulnerable to assaults. Over time, that unprotected heart, riddled with wounds from the arrows of sin and despondency, can barely bleat out its sheepish plea for divine intervention. It is frightening, this taste of an existence without Christ. It is terrifying outside the will of God.


So here I am, crawling into Holy Week, head bowed and eyes lowered. I have mourned my lifelessness like Mary and Martha mourned Lazarus, days buried, and now throw myself, stinking of decay, at the feet of the Church and Her sacraments. The weeks of Lent stretch long enough to push me past my limits. The days of fasting bring me quite appropriately and authentically to my knees. I have nothing to pour upon Christ’s holy shroud but a broken spirit and a mustard seed of faith that this offering will not be despised.


When I think of those present, waving palm branches and shouting praises, I am struck by the difficulties they must have endured. How certain they were that triumphant relief was theirs through this future king passing by on a donkey. How enormously disappointing and confusing to watch Hope suffer, naked and bloodstained on a cross. They, too, tasted grief when their preconceived notions of salvation were crushed before rising again. Just as I forget that violence and grace coexist until my time here is over, until through physical death, I attain, by God’s mercy, the victory of life everlasting.


I hunger for the opportunity to bury myself with Christ - my weak self, my old self, and my resistant self so sickened with discontent. During Holy Week, I will have no doubts that my fasting, my prayer, or my lack thereof, did not earn or deny me a chance to be resurrected.  Only those keenly aware of the hopelessness outside of Christ's love and mercy will experience the incomparable joy in a stone rolled away from the tomb.

Already, my ears are aching for St. John Chrysostom’s Paschal Homily:

And if any have tarried even until the eleventh hour,

Let him, also, be not alarmed at his tardiness.

For the Lord, who is jealous of his honour,

Will accept the last even as the first.

He giveth rest unto him who cometh at the eleventh hour,

Even as unto him who hath wrought from the first hour.

And He showeth mercy upon the last,

And careth for the first;

And to the one He giveth,

And upon the other He bestoweth gifts.

And He both accepteth the deeds,

And welcometh the intention,

And honoureth the acts and praises the offering.

Oh me of little faith, REJOICE!


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