I had a bit of a wake up call yesterday morning. Being Easter, a high holy day for our family, we knew ahead of time that there would be a lot of moving parts to our day. Some of these were church related. My daughter was to acolyte for the 9am service, meaning we had to be at church before 9 am. There were giving boxes to be returned for the special offering and deviled eggs to be shared at the after service brunch.
We knew all of this was coming, of course. We had prepared the eggs the day before (with cheddar cheese and bacon mind you) and laid out our pressed Easter outfits before we went to bed. We had talked about how this service was an hour earlier than our usual time, so even though we stayed up a little late watching stupid movies on Netflix, it was to be like a school morning (i.e. get up and get going).
If I had been really together, I would have set an alarm for some pre-dawn hour so that I could greet Easter morning in peace and tranquility and then be mentally prepared for our busy day.
But I am not really together. I am fairly lazy by nature and slept in until a bit after seven when the combination of dogs, kids, and the birds outside my window stirring awoke me.
Our morning might still have been tolerable if I had not kept fixating on what we looked like. As is our tradition, I was hoping for some nice family Easter photos during the day. I treasure photos taken in years past of our kids hunting eggs and of our family together in front of the beautiful flower gardens at our church.
So instead of gathering up all the people and items that we needed to pile in the car and transport north for 45 minutes to arrive at church on time, I spent an inordinate amount of time worrying about things like my hair and shoes. The hair was a crisis since I had no time to shower because of the sleep in (who am I kidding, my messy hair is always a crisis, I just usually forget to care). And shoes? What shoes could I wear that would match both my favorite “Easter egg skirt” and the damp, chilly morning that greeted us yesterday?
The ridiculous amount of time I spent worrying about my appearance A) made us leave later than we should have for church and B) distracted my thoughts from more important matters such as remembering the deviled eggs which were chilling in the fridge.
About 8:17 we finally hurried into the car and began racing towards church. About five minutes out my husband looks at me and asks, “Did you get the eggs?”
I’ll spare you the details of the fussy fit that ensued. You can imagine that I replied sweetly and calmly “No dear, let’s return home and get them, shall we?” However that would leave out the tears and frustration induced muscle spasms in my left shoulder that leads it to be still sore 24 hours later.
There was a moment where I honestly wondered why we were going through all this effort just to get to an Easter worship service. I honestly wished we had just decided to stay home.
Thank God my husband is a calm man with a heavy foot. He eventually got us to church safe, on time, complete with cheddar bacon eggs. And it only took me about five minutes after we got to church to remember why we came. I came to be with all the other draggy, messy, beautiful people who were pulling at the pretty skirts they don’t normally wear and fussing with their hair.
Because even though we are not normally a fashionable people, we are a people who claim that life is greater than death, love is greater than fear, and God’s grace is greater than any other force imaginable. And Easter is the day more than any day that we claim this truth.
The real wake up call came for me about half way through our service when we celebrated two baptisms. One was the baptism of a tiny baby and the other was of a child my son’s age. Baptisms are like weddings and births for me. They are so beautiful and symbolic of all that is good, I am brought to tears every time I witness one. As I listened to the familiar liturgy and watched the light and joy play out on these families’ faces, I felt so small. Ashamed actually. If I really believe that God loved us enough to come to earth, to reach down into the deepest, darkest, dirtiest place on our behalf and then break those powers of death and darkness so that we could be free of their hold on our lives. If I really believe this amazing, almost incomprehensible idea to be true, then how could it possibly matter if my hair is up or down? If I have worn sandals or not?
Death is conquered for crying out loud!
Who cares what I or anyone else looks like!?! We are alive in a beautiful, grace filled world. Isn’t that enough for a thousand pictures?
We took those family pictures anyway. Silly, goofy pictures. Pictures where admittedly I look more hung over than perky Easter bunny. But I am proud of them. For they are pictures where I finally realized that the importance is not how I look, but that I am alive and with people I love. Pictures that capture how I got the privilege of living life amongst beauty and grace.
I would say next year I’ll try to get up early and have it a little more together, but the truth is that is a long shot. What is more likely is I’ll let go of the special outfits and hairdos. If I remember to put on my joy and gratitude, that will be more than enough.