“Lemon, YESSSsss!!” I said aloud to myself just now. Yes, I’m alone in my dear little house and I’m talking to myself. Reading through a recipe for “lemony asparagus soup,” I was lamenting the fact that my produce bin (actually a drywall mud tray from Home Depot) holds only limes. But then I remember the three Meyer lemons that sit waiting in my grocery bag, destined for some spring-y dish. I just knew I’d need them. And this gives me much delight, the fact that I know the seasons and their flavors, that I know my cupboard, and that I know myself.
It’s been a thoroughly enjoyable Saturday-before-Easter. I’ve potted herbs and re-potted formerly suffering succulents. I’ve swept the floors until the varnish threatens to come up with the bristles. I’ve folded laundry. I’ve put things prettily on display in the living room, livened up my vignettes with fresh blooms and a spit shine. I’ve pre-heated the oven for the meringue building block of our family’s favorite and ideal Easter dessert, Pavlova. Asparagus soup will soon commence. Evening’s dark has just now fallen, the ice in my bourbon and soda is clinking and cracking next to me, and Simon and Garfunkel croon in their tremolo harmonies, “April, come she will…” quite by chance, from the next room.
I attended two, count ‘em, two Good Friday services last night. Both Tenebrae services, which means “the darkening.” One at my new church where I grow up now and one at my old church, where I grew up back then, because, of course, I don’t stop growing. I hope. The first service held sweet moments in a darkened room, scriptures read in the voices of people who are dear to me, and a message to “let our hearts remain buried” until the glorious and meaning-full break of the sun’s rays upon Resurrection Sunday. The second service, compiled and orchestrated by my very own dad about ten or so years ago, held equally sweet moments, candelabras, a prelude with a string quartet, an oboe, and my dad on piano (an unmistakable sound to my ears). There were the beloved, now aged faces of choir members who observed all of that growing up I did way back then. I felt a lump in my throat as I watched these old friends process, candle-lit, down the aisle; There’s Bill, his first wife is now with Jesus. There’s Linda, she just lost her job of twenty-five or so years, yet her face glows with spirit and gladness. There’s Thelma, my advisor from high school. There’s Tom, the faithful and tender-voiced supporter of our family. The emotion caught me quite by surprise.
In each of these drastically differing services, though, one similarity caught me by the throat and held me fast, these lyrics from one of my all-time favorite hymns (which, each time, rendered me unable to sing):
This is my Father’s world
O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong
God is the ruler yet
I cling to this truth.
My friend Rebekah and I drove down Highway 100 afterwards, on our way to our own Communion, a glass of wine and a plate of crusty bread. We were mid-conversation when she gasped and said “Evie, look at the moon!!” There it sat, glowing as brightly as a flood light and brighter, with the dark silhouettes of trees pulsing beneath its illuminating power. I slowed, to the chagrin of several drivers around me, to 30 miles per hour. We couldn’t stop gawking. I remarked after a moment, “Isn’t it so nice to see something beautiful and to have someone beside you to enjoy it with?!” We giggled in our perpetual single-ness, but in our hearts were so deeply gladdened to be enjoying God’s good creation with one another.
(This post is totally writing itself, by the way, stream of consciousness is my preferred method tonight…come to think of it, that might be all I’ve got….)
So I’ll close. God speaks to his children in countless ways, but He reaches me through beauty; He gives me the gifts of color and texture and taste and shared tenderness with those whom I love. He is real to me in these ways and so many others. I mark the rising of his Son tomorrow morning. I will celebrate it standing, drowning in gratitude.
[Featured image: "Easter Moon Over Pond in New England" by Tracy Lee Carroll. All other images by Evie Coates.]