Tuesday, April 10, 2012

"And this I know, He comes again!!"

Easter is rather magnificent, isn't it?  A holiday that not only welcomes and glorifies spring but then also...and most incredibly important...we remember and both reverently and triumphantly celebrate our Savior's resurrection.  My favorite of all hymns, "He Is Risen," was the first I ever learned to play on the piano when I was a young teenager.  And I still remember my Dad insisting that this was no quiet sacrament hymn.  This song was all about joy and triumph and that the dynamics and feeling in my playing needed to reflect that.

I'm sure I've made frequent comments about favorite holidays.  Thanksgiving, mostly...but then in the summer how much I adore the 4th of July.  How I love my Irish roots on St. Patrick's Day.  And of course how wonderful Christmas is.  This past Sunday I would've vehemently insisted that Easter is without a doubt my favorite.  I think that I just throw myself so fully into special days that each and every one is my "favorite"....at least in their season.

Easter, though.  Easter always leaves me so spiritually rejuvenated and this year was no exception.

We've always tried to keep the Easter egg hunt part of things on Saturday so we can focus on the Savior on Sunday.  Normally we hunt eggs at Bryan's parents house.  They've annually, since Rebekah was 3 years old, hosted a huge egg-stravaganza with cousins and second cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents.  But the the hunt had grown so much over the years that Bryan's parents as of last year declared themselves done.  (Probably also due to the sheer number of teens that maybe don't care so much about hunting for eggs anymore?)  The thing is, our normal neighborhood hunt didn't happen this year either.  Which meant it was up to me.  Lilian being only 4 years old, a hunt was still a big deal to her...even a make-shift one in our backyard.  She not only insisted on helping me choose the candy at the store but also filling the plastics eggs.  And then I think she even did a little bit of peeking out the window when I was hiding them.  Funny enough, her older teenaged sisters also insisted on hunting for eggs.  I guess they're not too old after all.

Baskets filled with things like church books and CD's, temple pictures, some ties and a scripture case for Brandon, etc. greeted the kids when they woke up Easter morning.  (See here for the explanation of why we don't really do the traditional Easter Bunny at our house.)  Early church and all, they only gave their baskets a passing glance as they rushed around trying to get beautified for Easter Sunday.

Lilian was the only one with a special, new dress, though, seeing as the older kids have long since outgrown that sort of thing.  She strikes a pose well, doesn't she?  :) 

Still....don't they ALL look nice?

The ward choir did a big program for Sacrament Meeting so not only did I get to sing but also play the piano for the two singing contributions from the primary kids.  After church I put on my apron, got Lex de Azevedo's "Hosanna" playing on my CD player, and began to work on our Easter feast.  I have to admit, I had tears rolling down my face as I made the funeral potatoes.  Not from the onions I was chopping...although I'm sure that didn't help...but from the glorious music.  I almost always listen to music as I cook.  But listening to "Hosanna" on Easter...an oratorio that means more to me than any other music I have ever sung or listened to....the tears flowed readily. 

Julianne, as she always does, helped with the fancy table.  And by the time my parents arrived to share our meal, we were ready with a ham, the aforementioned funeral potatoes, roasted carrots and green beans with a lemon vinaigrette.  My mother added homemade rolls to the mix and with the promise of strawberry shortcake for dessert, we had quite the feast.   

But the main point of the day, at least for me, was the performance that evening.  For many long months our stake had been putting together an Easter celebration.  An Easter oratorio written specifically for this day by an extremely talented woman from our stake was to be performed.  Members of the stake were encouraged to bring other such expressions of their feelings and testimonies of Christ for display...things such as art work, quilting, etc.  As part of the stake choir I had been in rehearsals for this day since early January.  I was concerned though.  Would people come?  On a day where many people gather with family or are still out of town as part of spring break, would we have anyone in attendance?  My concerns were for naught.  Oh, did people come!  The building was packed.

The music and narration was glorious.  I found myself dangerously close to tears during the final two numbers...to the point that the choir director even gave me a somewhat stern and pained look...and mouthed something up at me...something to the effect that I better not cry!  I'm not sure if he was worried that my tears would make it harder for him to hold it together (which, apparently he WAS actually having a hard time with) or if he was concerned that if I was bawling I wouldn't be able to get out those high notes that he totally depends on me to do.  Maybe a little of both.

It's hard, actually.  Because, yes.  If I've spent that long working on a performance then I surely want to sing it well.  And heaven knows, I cannot sing well when I am crying.  (You know Snow White's warbly little vibrato that is so irritating?  That's more or less what I sound like when I'm crying and singing at the same time.  Except even worse.)  But at the same time...if I've spent that long working on a performance then I surely am invested and want to let myself really FEEL the music and the message.  I don't want to be so entirely clinical that I don't appreciate what I'm actually singing about!  But I pulled it together.  I sang that finale with all the best that was in me.  And then I sat down and let the tears flow.  And flow they did...I was wishing mightily for waterproof mascara.  Because I wept.  And for the rest of the evening I had the lyrics of that final song running through my head:

He comes again with outstretched arms,
"Come unto me," He pleads.
To all of those who labor
And those with heavy cares.
For I will ease your burdens
And you will find your rest.

Sorrow will be turned to joy,
Happiness will find all
Who see His face,
Who touch His hands,
And feel his warm embrace.

The power of His healing touch;
His love doth conquer all.

He came to those with weary hearts,
He strengthened the feeble knees.
He came to those whose hands hung down,
And he did succor the weak.

And this I know,
He comes again!  


Jewels said...

What a beautiful song. I wish I could have heard it. One of these times, when you perform, you'll have to email me so I can come hear you.
I love your thoughts on Easter. It's a favorite of mine, too.

Mindy said...

I got teary eyed just reading your post, that was beautiful!

MELISSA said...

beautiful. As much as I love my Easter Jeep Safari tradition, it comes at quite a cost. Easter Sunday gets the bump and that makes me sad. Maybe next year I'll find a sacrament meeting in Moab that meets at 9am and while the others go out to breakfast, I'll go to church. After reading of your wonderful Sunday I really feel motivated to make my next year worship better.

DisabilityDiva said...

Beautiful! I love hearing about your celebrations but most of all your testimony of the Savior! HUGS