Sunday, April 16, 2006

April 16, 2006 - Easter

“The Lord is risen.” Claire greets me with those words this morning, as we awake.

“He is risen indeed,” I sleepily reply.

Yes, we really do share that liturgical response with one another on Easter morning. It’s something precious that binds the two of us together: a common faith.

I go into the bathroom and lay out my five 20-mg prednisone tablets beside the sink. One by one, I swallow the bitter pills, with as large a gulp of water as I can manage. By going quickly and using plenty of water, I manage to swallow them all without gagging. I take comfort in the knowledge that these are the last of the prednisones before my next chemo treatment.

I remember reading somewhere that Roman Catholic priests are expected to celebrate Mass daily, even if they are not presiding at a worship service. Should a priest be traveling, alone in a hotel room someplace and without access to a church, he’s expected to take out a traveling kit and celebrate the Mass on his own. I have no idea whether or not this is still true – or even if it ever was – but it could be. If so, then maybe these five prednisone tablets are my daily mass. Corpus nostrum.

Claire goes across the street to the church, to assist Robin with the Easter services. I remain here, in the manse. Earlier, I fantasized about slipping into a back pew, to take in the Easter service as though I were a member of the congregation, but abandoned the idea. If past experience is any guide, on this last prednisone day I’m likely to be nervous and jittery. All I’ve wanted to do, on this day in my past chemo cycles, is lock myself in a room and stay away from people, as I weather the headaches and hot flashes. So I stay put.

Through the gauzy curtains on my study window, I watch the parade of worshipers traverse the sidewalks, on their way to church. Pastel colors predominate in this crowd: pinks and yellows and sky-blues. It’s a sunny, picture-perfect Easter day: Protestant, middle-class America on its way to church. The faithful are dressed less formally than in years past: more men in sportshirts, fewer women in festive hats. But that comes as no surprise. The old, suit-and-tie formality of Sunday worship has been on the wane for some time – to the relief of the baby boomers and the consternation of some of their elders.

This is not a perspective on Easter I typically see. Usually, I’m deep inside the church building, caught up in the last-minute rush of worship preparations. Today I’m a silent spectator. I’m not feeling sad, exactly, about missing Easter worship, for what’s probably the first time in my life. It’s more of an odd, wistful feeling. Somehow, I still do feel connected with what’s going on across the street. I’ll be back next year, I remind myself, if all goes as expected with my treatment.

After the services, Claire returns, bringing Robin with her – our only non-family guest for Polish Easter breakfast (a feast sacred to Claire’s ethnic traditions). We’ve been trying for a simpler celebration this year, but with Claire involved in a holiday meal, “simpler” is a relative term (“relative” in more ways than one, with her large family). Her brother Victor and sisters Ramona and Eva are here, along with Chelsea and Nick (Victor’s kids) and Cory and Elizabeth (Eva’s kids). Our son and daughter, Ben and Ania, are here too, of course.

I wasn’t sure I could manage to sit at the table, the way I’m feeling, but I give it a try. I manage to sit through the whole meal, and even enjoy some of the food. It’s good to be here with everyone. Later in the afternoon, Ben (a music major at Monmouth University) gives us an impromptu mini-concert of classical guitar music.

A pretty good day, all in all - better than I could have hoped for.

The Lord is risen.

He is risen indeed!


Anonymous said...

Have a Happy Easter and feel better. I like reading your blog. You are a very brave man and I give you a lot of credit.. May God Bless you and your family:)

Tarun Jacob said...

Praise God. We do have a risen Lord. He is so at work in our lives. HE is risen indeed.

Mary Beth said...

I'm so pleased to see that you could enjoy time with the family on Easter. And fear not, my friend, you will be back next year. I have no doubt. Mary Beth

Anonymous said...

I loved your Easter celebration and the pictures. It's a fine way to give me the sense that I was back at your church and back with the family -- and had Claire's good Polish dishes! Mom