There are two things on which I can rely during my mis-named Easter “break”: I will do a ton of singing in my home state, and I will get sick.
This year was no different, with my first sign of sinus pain coming just after the Holy Thursday service I drove to straight from Boston. Good Friday, with its plentiful standing and minimal singing, was a haze. I took it easy today, Holy Saturday, and drove in the evening down to the parish half an hour from my parents’ at which I have been a liturgical mercenary for the last few years.
I sneezed prodigiously among abundant flowers. I didn’t quite get on top of the pitch from time to time. I still got a thumbs up from the kind altar server who haltingly plays violin at Christmas services. I saw the same faces I have seen in the last few years as I have imposed myself upon this parish at the holiest time of year. The deacon, who this year was conquered by the new translation of the Exsultet and handed it over to one of the other cantors, greeted me with multiple hugs. We shared fire as the sun went down. We shared the bread and wine as the evening moved into the dark of night.
At this point in the post I am supposed to find some deeper meaning to all of this and wrap things up in a rush of words and insight. But I am tired and sick and have three more masses in the morning, and this beautiful ritual doesn’t need penetrating insight because what is right there on the surface on the surface is deep and holy.
There’s a lot to learn from the grace you meet when your feet hurt, you’re allergic to the lilies, you’re coughing and bleary eyed and yet- you find the energy to sing all the verses proclaiming : Christ is our light, death is conquered, the Lord is risen, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.