Saturday, March 30, 2013
The voices in my mind are usually quiet during daylight hours. It is in the silent moments of the night when they clamor to be heard, bumping against each other, merging into nonsensical impressions. It takes concentration to sort them out, allowing them to form independently and take on structure. Thoughts are what most people name them, but I can distinguish them in voices. Perhaps a lot of us hear the voices, but they are so much a part of what we believe to be normal that they cease to be acknowledged as voices and simply are just present. It is more normal to refer to them as thoughts, more sane. Hearing voices belongs to another realm we are not so comfortable speaking of.
Tomorrow is Easter Sunday. Tonight, there is an album of memories passing through my mind, pictures that were only captured in those memories. I have lived for many Easters. Some I can remember vividly, and some have disappeared in the mists of memory. I remember when my firstborn was only months old… I dressed for church that day in a pale pink linen suit I’d made, with a dainty pillbox hat, and my son was wearing a little suit I had sewn him. It’s strange that I can remember even that I lined my jacket in a matching taffeta fabric. We had a photo of the three of us, standing in front of the house, but the photo disappeared long ago. Perhaps it was put into an album I gave my son some years ago. With that first child, we took a lot of photos… and less with each child that came after. Life became more complicated with more children, and I know there were rolls of film that never got developed and were lost through the years and in the moves. Then when Polaroid cameras were invented, there were instant photos, but those did not last well. They curled away from their backing, and cracked, and the photographic memory was damaged, leaving only the images in my mind. Now we have digital cameras that require no film to be developed. We can simply download them into our computers. But I have discovered that computers crash, and photos I have burned onto disks will not open in these newer formats, and so those photos are lost, as well. The only pictures that are permanently preserved are the pictures in our minds, and even those fade and disappear, leaving scattered bits here and there.
Easter used to mean a new outfit for church. The girls had Easter bonnets, sometimes with little purses to match. On Good Friday, we always had an egg decorating tea. The children dyed eggs and the mothers had tea and visited. We invited friends to join us, and our Easter teas became a tradition that our friends cherished, also. We made sweet breads and cream puffs and bundt cakes and decorated cupcakes. Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster came to our teas, cupcakes decorated with bright blue frosting and marshmallow google-eyes, with a cookie stuck in its “mouth”. When the children got older, we invited families with younger children, and my children helped the little ones decorate the eggs. It was an excuse to carry on our tradition, and to continue to participate in something they felt they had outgrown but still loved to do. The Cookie Monster was always present at our Easter teas!
Our little church was filled with the color and froth of fancy dresses and bonnets, and the rafters rang out with the blaring of trumpets, announcing that special service! Voices joined in Hosanna choruses, accompanied by the pipe organ that sounded more regal than usual. It’s really quite funny that so many people we never saw throughout the year showed up for Christmas and on Easter Sunday. The church is not simply open for the season. It is a family that offers support and sustenance throughout the year, a place where love is present at all times. If it is a healthy church, it also offers acceptance without judgment, regardless of lifestyle or race. Church is not a doctrine to me, but a place of love, an extended family. My spiritual center is within me, not in a building. But my church family met in that building, and I was present as part of that family. It was important to me, and I wanted my children to experience that, as well.
The voices in my mind once told me that tolerance is a judgmental word, implying that one was above that which was tolerated, and that a much more appropriate word is acceptance. Acceptance has no judgment connected with it. It offers love, where ever one is on their path. And we each do travel our own path. We each have our own thoughts, our own experiences, and although we sometimes cross paths with another… touch lives with another for a moment in time… we walk our path alone. We each have our own version of reality. And yet, we each share a common thread of life… a basic need to belong and to feel we are not alone. Perhaps that is the enigma of being human… the need to belong and the awareness that we are alone and no other can ever truly know or understand our thoughts and our emotions.
As the years have passed, there were less Easter bonnets seen, and now they are fewer still. There are fewer families who include a church family in their circle of life. There are less trumpets blasting the Good News, and many children today have probably never heard Hosanna sung in a church on Easter morning. Instead of Easter bonnets and frilly dresses, we see drooping pants and butt cracks gathered in groups at malls and parking lots. Something lovely, some sense of innocence, has been lost in the transition.
Tomorrow morning, I will not be in church. My priorities have changed as I have become less mobile, and there are few familiar friends in that church. It takes time and effort to form those kinds of friendships, and I am virtually a stranger here. There are no small grandchildren here to color eggs, and there was no Easter tea on Good Friday. This year, for the first time, there will not even be a family gathering to share in a meal. Each of my children has invited me to come to their home for dinner, but I have chosen to be at home alone. It’s less stressful than navigating stairs or driving to my children’s homes, and certainly less stressful than feeling I have become an obligation to them, an additional burden in their already busy lives. They do not say or do anything to make me feel this... it is my perception alone.
My mother talks about how as we become adults, our own growing families are more important than our birth families. That is the way of life. As parents, we have obligations to our children, and life today is so much busier, with both parents usually having to work in order to maintain a mediocre lifestyle. It doesn't leave much time for recreation, or even time to think... it takes all one's effort to keep up with all the daily tasks! It isn't until our children are grown that we turn to our birth family again, renewing that bond between parent and child, between siblings. We have a history together. There is a connection that is strengthened again. We understand each other, and we need each other.
So, tomorrow is Easter Sunday once again, but for me it is simply another Sunday. However, this Sunday, I will travel back in time to places that were filled with the laughter and squeals of children plucking colored eggs from their hiding places, dressed in their Easter finery. I will spend this Easter with my family once again, the children I remember and hold dear, and the husband who will be with me in spirit. It will be a special day!