Again this Easter, our family gathered to celebrate, not only the glory of Easter Sunday, but four birthdays. It was a joyous day. As I cleaned, and baked, and prepared the house for guests…I grew weary. Wouldn’t it be nice, I thought, if one of my daughters-in-law offered to host Easter one time. But then, I told myself, when would you take such care with your spring cleaning? Would you look after these corners, these nooks and crannies where the spiders leave their webs? This is good for you, I told myself. Stop complaining.
It really is good for us to make that extra effort – to serve. Ever mindful of Lazarus’ sisters, I tried my hardest (this time) to be Mary and not Martha when everyone gathered. I wanted to be attentive to my guests, not worrying about the cooking and the smaller details. I think I’m getting better at it in my old age, I truly did enjoy this Easter celebration.
The grandchildren discovered the gold finches flocking to the bird feeders and suddenly, I found the three oldest ones standing in the yard, under the feeders, their arms outstretched, motionless as statues, birdseed in each hand. “For the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these…” I thought as I stood and watched them. I saw trust, hope, faith and love being demonstrated by their patient waiting, their outstretched arms. One gold finch did alight to snatch a seed from my granddaughter’s open hand, and that made the others ever hopeful.
After dinner, sitting at the table with our sons and daughters-in-law, we talked of world issues; I mentioned a book I had been reading throughout Lent, which urged the need to follow Jesus’ teaching on the Beatitudes. My one daughter-in-law, who had no religious upbringing, asked me what I was talking about. I quoted a bit from the Sermon on the Mount - blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God. We talked about the need to help the poor. “But why?” she said. “Why can’t they help themselves?”
My husband explained to her how many people have grown up without love, without direction, in an ongoing cycle of abuse and neglect – alcoholism and drugs…it’s difficult to pull one’s self out of that without help, he said. She had not looked at it in that way before. Her eyes were opened a bit on Easter Sunday. Her oldest child, her 11 year old son, sat quietly, listening and absorbing all that was being said. We are sowing seeds, I thought to myself.
I’ve mentioned before that our kids are not practicing Catholics, but they take part in these discussions. We just speak of real issues that call for compassion and love and we go on sowing the seeds.
Like the little children, we must continue to grow in trust, hope, faith and love – with much patience, and arms outstretched.