Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Triduum and Easter

This blog is about creativity and living fully. That's my excuse for today's posting. Today, I am offering some scenes from the Triduum and Easter as I lived them.

Holy Thursday:
It's the footwashing ritual, and people are standing in line all over the church (there are six footwashing stations set up). I am ferrying water from the basement for one of the stations in the back of the church. A man and his two young daughters (perhaps 3 and 4 years old) approach. The first little girl gets her foot washed, then she is guided in washing her father's foot, then her father washes the foot of the other little girl, then that little girl washes the foot of the college student who was next in line. Both little girls had incredibly serious faces on through this whole procedure, and every adult in the vicinity was wearing a goofy "awwwww" face.

We are in the lower chapel (a space that on Sundays seats 180 people for overflow liturgies). There are no chairs in the space, just a large tent-like structure in the middle of the room. The only lights are very subdued spots up near the ceiling (and aimed at the ceiling) as well as a few lit candles. The procession comes down from the upper chapel, bearing the Blessed Sacrament. When the procession crosses into the space, we all kneel and sing the "Tantum Ergo." It's an incredibly powerful time, hearing all of these voices chanting this centuries-old hymn. I want to try to capture this in a quilt - and I think I know how to proceed: triangles of purples, dark greens, and deep russet oranges punctuated by fragments of cream and buttery yellow.

Good Friday:
Somehow, in the midst of getting instructions from Hubby Dearest about where I was to go and when, I didn't actually look at the program of the service (nor did any of my three compatriots). So, there were two of us gals holding lit candles that weren't quite seated properly in their stands and two strong young men holding a cross on their shoulders through an entire section of the ritual all of us had forgotten about. Of course, I sway (all of the time - I am incapable of being still), and the candle I was holding . . .  well, it fell over onto my friend! I grabbed it back, and she didn't get burned; however, she had wax all down the front of her shirt and on her glasses (and, she told me the next morning, in her hair). One of the fellows standing nearby, after ascertaining that she was okay, ran her glasses to the basement for cleaning. I felt SO stupid and SO clumsy. Somewhere during my 50th apology on Saturday, she told me to knock it off; that she recognized an accident when it happened.

During the Veneration of the Cross, I was again struck by the power of being in a parish that draws in people from all over the country and all over the world. We see every skin tone and many styles of dress. We hear the liturgy sung and spoken in many accents and hear a wide variety of life experiences. The Venerations that people offer range from my two fingers on the cross and a bow to full prostration. When we got home that evening and heard what the goofus homilist had said at St. Peter's in Rome, I was again glad that I had had such a good experience locally.

Holy Saturday:
I had been informed that I was one of two co-coordinators. So, when we arrived at 10:30 a.m., I took the detailed order of service off by myself and started reading carefully, making notes, underlining, etc. We then proceeded to have two rehearsals (and these rehearsals followed a three-hour choir and band rehearsal). The first rehearsal was with the RCIA folks who would be receiving sacraments. Hubby Dearest was in charge, and halfway through the proceedings, I hollered, "By the way, I'm Liz. I'm married to [him], and I'll be helping out tonight." Oh, yeah, he had forgotten to make the introductions. He's so cute. The second rehearsal was with the priests, servers, and co-coordinators.

We co-coordinators had to know where every person (other than the choir, band, and readers) was supposed to be and what they were supposed to be doing so that we could keep things on track. If we are obsessing about details, then the rest of the assembly can relax into the flow of the liturgy. That was why, at one point in the afternoon, I was stepping through (and reciting aloud) the places where some of the communion ministers would need to go and stand; I played all four roles so that I knew them cold. Psychologists tell us that people have different learning styles. I have a strong kinesthetic bent. I have to experience something in order to know it. Hearing it doesn't do me much good; reading about it helps a lot; but doing it implants it for me. That evening, I used all three methods with the four ministers: I told them how the procedure would work, I demonstrated it for them, and then I made them step through it. They all did the procedure flawlessly in the liturgy itself.

Easter Sunday:
I was scheduled as a communion minister at the 8:30 (after getting home at 1:30). Okay. No big deal. I've been doing this schedule for Easter all of my adult life. Then, I found Hubby Dearest in the lower chapel. There was no usher scheduled for the 10:00 in that space. So, I became the usher. The space seats 180? We had over 300 people. When things started getting crowded, I made the following announcement: "We have a lot of parents with little kids and other folks who also have difficulty standing. If you can stand for an hour, would you please give up your seat?" Two dozen people popped up and ran to the outer edges of the room. It was a beautiful moment. The very best moment was just before the liturgy started, and a young mother carrying a small child and towing a toddler came rushing in, looked at the crowded space and almost burst into tears. I greeted her and said, "We have a seat for you." The look of total relief on her face was matched by the grins of the people standing nearby. They had played a role in this young mother's morning getting better.

Oh, the Easter dress? It wore beautifully! No tugging, no awkward fit, it just covered me and floated along, garnering compliments along the way. It's a little heavy, and a little warm. I might shorten the sleeves, and I definitely have to attend to the fraying, but all in all, a very good dress.

I promise actual craft stuff in the next posting.

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