Life would be so much easier if we could freeze the beautiful times, the times when joy overflowed and we were in tune with life around and in us.
But it doesn’t happen like that.
I think of Easter in the Monastery. Despite all the difficulties I had in the monastery, Easter was a season that restored my soul.
“I can never leave,” I used to tell myself. “I’ll never experience Holy Week and Easter this way. I can't live if I don't have these experiences. Immersed. With the traditions and chant and rituals that make this week come alive.”
I did leave.
I did lose those beautiful days.
I’ve grappled with that loss and tried to find ways to re-create it here in my life.
At first, I searched for a church that most resembled my monastic rituals and practices. I needed the rituals to tie me to the emotion. I actually finally found one. And it helped…for a while.
Then, I began to dissect the meaning behind our practices. I began to look for ways I could live out those meanings, not leaning so heavily on rituals and practices, like changing the Mandatum (ritual of the washing of the feet done on Holy Thursday) to recognizing I “wash the feet of others” every time sit with someone and listen to their story, help them hold their pain, and offer them hope.
Still, with all my efforts, there is still pain.
I have a CD of the Easter Vespers we sang in the monastery. I play it on Easter Sunday, and as I hear the hymns and songs, the memories return of the special moment I had in that life, how deeply profound, meaningful and reverent this day was for me.
When I listen, I can still see myself standing in the choir (the monastic term for church body where we sang our praises 8 hours a day). I can feel the vibe laden with significance I had from those moments, singing chants among a community of like-minded individuals, most of who are now gone.
And I wonder, why could this day not be frozen in time forever? Why did time have to change all of that?
Because I cannot freeze time and the moment. And so I grieve, and treasure the memory, even though I also feel the pain.
It’s a reminder that life moves on, and that mental health is the ability to deal with the changes that come in life. That getting old also means losing friends. That memories are beautiful but can also weigh us down.
For me, it's the spirit of Easter to rise from whatever circumstances we are in, to recover the spirit of hope.
That stability is not a moment in time, but rather a period across time as we learn to treasure special moments and handle all the other moments that come across life.
I wish you a Happy Easter. May you always keep hope in your heart.