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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter

Author's note: Faith is a topic that is very close to my heart, but that I rarely discuss with others. I am not a religious person, but have a strong belief in God. If talk of God offends you, you may want to skip this entry, or insert another name for God like, higher power, or the universe. I'm never really sure where this blog will lead me and I didn't see this entry coming, but would like to honor it with a place among the others. Thanks for reading --Karen

This morning I woke up before dawn. I was just about to drift back to sleep when a confused Robin starting chirping a spring song outside my window. Soon after, a small voice called out for her mother. When no mother replied, the small warm body that belonged to the voice climbed into my bed, nudging me to the edge of my pillow.

As the Robin chirped its song once more, the morning fog in my brain began to lift, and I realized that the Robin was not confused, this was probably the time it always woke up. I also remembered that I was the mother of the small warm body beside me.

It was a sweet invitation to the day that I, and the small warm body, could not refuse. So together we slipped out of bed, into our robes and downstairs for some steamy hot libations. I rarely get out of bed early enough to watch the sunrise, so I convinced my little warm one to bundle up and accompany me outside to experience the magic of a new day.

As we stood shivering, on our driveway looking to the heavens, I thought about the other people in the world that were awake with us attending Sunrise Services for Easter. When I was growing up, Sunrise Services were not something Catholics did. (I'm not sure it's something they do now.) I always thought it was a little crazy to get oneself, and family, out of bed in the dark at such an ungodly hour to go stand outside in the cold. Maybe for fishing...but church?

More than two decades later, standing out in the stillness with my second born, I started to understand how Easter Sunrise Service might not be an altogether terrible thing. Grey light and the quiet sounds of nature waking up around you. The anticipation of spring almost palpable in the tree's swelling buds. The birds calling more fervently to impress this year's potential mates. Tiny green sprouts pushing through the dirt, making their way through last years leaves to reach for the warmth of the lengthening daylight. All things easily lost in the hustle and bustle of midday. Early spring hung in the air with a promise of things to come. You couldn't help but breath a little deeper in anticipation of its fulfilment. It was a beautiful metaphor for the celebration of Easter.

This morning with temps in the thirties we chose to breath the promise inside with steaming cups of tea. As I warmed my hands on my over sized mug I realized that it has been a long time since we went to church. We stopped attending after going gluten free. At the time, it seemed cruel to go, when the kids could no longer participate in their favorite parts of the service...Communion, and coffee hour. We tried a few times but it was just too painful for all of us. We weren't strong enough to explain to all the well meaning church ladies that we could not eat their cookies. Their pity, and statements of "Oh how terrible," were not the message that we wanted our children to hear as we adjusted to our new lives. Gluten free was a good thing. It was our miracle. Little did we know at the time that it would be another two years before we would be healthy on a regular basis.

The next couple years were some dark ones for our family. Yes, we were handed a cure, but going gluten free is an emotionally challenging process. The panic of not knowing what to eat or how to feed my family. Grief as the reality sank in that I would never feel my fingers knead my Grandmothers pizza dough recipe again, or share that tradition with my daughters. Denial as we recognized the signs and symptoms in loved ones and tried to ignore the genetic probability of additional diagnosis. Anxiety as food product, after food product was crossed of the list of safe food for our family, because of cross contamination and/or other food intolerances. Frustration of not being symptom free even after months of the gluten free diet. Isolation as invitations for dinner with friends dwindled, since no one knew how to feed us safely. Sadness as we adjusted our expectations of what a normal life would be for our family. Anger that no matter how I searched for the answers to my questions I failed to find them since they are not available. The medial research had not been done yet.

In my darkest days, while my daughter still suffered, and my then undiagnosed husband fell asleep after work every night, it started to feel like God might have something against me. OK, maybe God wasn't making my loved ones sick, but He wasn't running blocker for me either. The weight of solving the puzzle of my family's health began to weigh heavily on me, changing my free spirited, easy going, spontaneous, life embracing nature, into something I did not recognize. I was overloaded and angry. My faith slowly, without notice, slipped away. I stopped praying. I had nothing to say to God. There was nothing God could do. I hoped in my heart that God would understand, and that at some point my faith would return.

This Easter morning, it seemed that God himself sent the invitation before dawn. Somehow sensing that my heart might be ready to trust and believe again. Like a patient Father of a angry teen or tantruming toddler, waiting with arms outstretched and open ready to embrace me the moment I was done with my self absorbed angst. I laughed at myself, embarrassed at my own arrogance. God had been with me all along, but in my pain I refused to acknowledge Him. This morning, for the first time in a long time, I felt the reassurance of God's company, and the awe inspiring magnitude of His love and forgiveness. My eyes filled with tears...not from sadness...but from gratitude for second chances.

I think I might be ready to believe again.

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