I, for one, can’t believe it is near Holy Week already! Time in this pandemic seems surreal somehow – and I’m also home with a newborn so the days blur together a bit.
I had planned to write a post on traditions – which I will still someday – when I read a beautiful post by Sarah Wright of the Orthodox Motherhood blog about simplifying our Holy Week and it made me want to share on that instead. (Find her full post here.) What I most connected with about Sarah’s blog were two things that I will speak more about here:
1. You can’t do it all
I don’t know if she said this exactly – but this was my take-away – that there are, thanks to God, so many options these days for how to help our children (and ourselves) connect with the depth of meaning and wonder in Holy Week and Christ’s resurrection – and we just can’t do all of them. We may want to do all of them – but we will set ourselves up for failure (feeling like a failure especially which doesn’t help anyone) and we will likely do too many things not very well and end up exhausting our kids and ourselves in the process. Example: for the past few years for Great Lent I have read the Tending the Garden of Our Hearts daily meditations to my kids – and I blogged about it a few posts ago as a wonderful activity. This year I just noticed that we weren’t getting to it. We did our daily Lenten Calendar and focused on what we have come to call “kindness challenges” as I blogged before – and we have been doing daily prostrations and my two oldest have memorized the prayer of Saint Ephraim. At first I felt really badly that we weren’t reading the meditations – but with a newborn baby at home I figured I had a good excuse. The truth is, however, that we don’t need to feel badly about not doing it all – we simply cannot and if we do we will likely lose sight of what is truly important – which brings me to my second point:
2. Remember to keep the focus on Christ
The thing that struck me most about Sarah’s post was her final section:
Remember the story of Martha and Mary?
Martha was working her hardest in the kitchen to prepare for her Lord. She had cleaned her house, prepared dinner for over 13 guests, and was generally running herself ragged. Her intentions were good–she wanted to serve the Lord. But, ironically, her service kept her out of the presence of the Lord.
Mary, on the other hand, and much to Martha’s annoyance, was oblivious to all of the bustle in the kitchen. She hadn’t thought of the meal or worried about the dirt on the floor. She knew what she wanted: to spend time listening to Jesus.
Which sister does Jesus praise? Mary. Because she knew that, while there were many things that could be done, only one thing was necessary. Only one thing was important. Only one thing was needful–being in the presence of Christ.
We can busy ourselves with doing it all – all the services, all the traditions, all the crafts (I love crafts but also loved that Sarah also blogged here about how she doesn’t craft and that’s ok too :)) – but then where is the quiet and stillness to hear the quiet voice of God?
When I was in medical school our professors told us to make a list of things that were important to us – including things like sleep and clean clothes and then to cross off everything but the top three since we weren’t going to have time for any of the rest of it. They were being serious. I felt, and still feel, that was a bit exaggerated, but it is a useful concept. What are the mostly important things in your life and are you making time and space for them? I prefer to make a bigger list with an acknowledgement that if I don’t get past three or so that is fine. So for me Holy Week hope-to-dos are:
- Services – as many as we can – remote and in person
- Daily Psaltar reading for Psaltar group
- Daily lesson of some sort with a simple craft on the theme (I got the Orthodox Pebbles kit but there are so many)
- Dyeing red eggs for the church (love this recipe from my friend Sarah)
- Making Pascha cheese and Koolich with my mom and the kids
- Making Easter baskets for my family
- Making a few Easter baskets for close friends and family
Whatever you decide I wish you and your family a blessed entrance into Holy Week – may we all find the space, stillness and focus to enter into the bright sadness and glory of Christ’s passion and resurrection.