It’s the beginning of spring this week. Or is it summer…I’m not sure. Record breaking highs continue to throw my internal clock off. I seem to still be waiting for the winter that never came.
Lent is positively rocketing by this year. So much chaos in our life. How much I welcome this week! We are midway through the Fast now, and the Church, in her wisdom, takes this week to refocus us and prepare us anew for the remainder of the journey ahead.
The third Sunday of Lent is the Veneration of the Cross. Just when the newness of the Lenten labors has officially worn off, we fall to our knees as the Cross is carried from the altar to the center of the church. Prostrate, we sing: “Before Your Cross, we bow down in worship, O Master, and Your Holy Resurrection, we glorify.” Where is this Lenten journey going again? Oh yes, this is a journey to the Cross. One whose destination is not a tomb.
The Cross at church is always decorated with flowers. Another bright pop of spring in the middle of what is usually still a dreary, and often snow covered, world outside. We prostrate before our own Cross at home each night this week during evening prayers, so Hilary made a fitting place to honor the Cross we venerate.
The base of this craft is a paper plate turned upside down. Not the thin plates, but the thicker ones that are almost like cardboard. I conveniently had blue plates. I cut out rectangles of tissue paper measuring approximately 1 1/2″ x 2 1/2″, rounding the ends. Hilary layered four of the sheets, criss-crossing them. Then, we picked up the sheets in the center of the bundle and “smooshed” them together from the bottom, letting the tops fall open as petals. For the middle, Little Miss Pattern Girl chose to meticulously make a beaded series of concentric circles. I happened to have this lovely cross from Russia that is the exact right size for the plate.
How fitting it is this year for the week of the Veneration of the Cross to fall at the same time as the first day of spring. The arrival of the cross bolsters us spiritually, and the arrival of the new season elevates us physically and emotionally. Life and newness are everywhere.
Per our tradition, we celebrated the first day of spring with an egg hunt and other festivities. Spring coloring pages. Asparagus for dinner. A walk outside. This is the day when we get the bunny-and-chick-laden Easter decoration frenzy out of our systems. Spring is spring. Pascha is Pascha. Nothing wrong with cute bunnies, but they are not the meaning of the Feast of Feasts, so we choose to separate the two events.
When Hilary got home from ballet, she discovered that the backyard was filled with eggs. (Mental note: do not instruct teenagers to hide eggs when you’re not around. One will have an exceptionally bad attitude and “hide” her half out in the open, not even leaving the deck, and the other one will get so into it, we can’t find them all…except for the ones he mysteriously placed in mud puddles.) We usually have another egg hunt on Pascha with candy-filled eggs, but since gorging on candy is not the best Lenten activity, I fill the eggs this time with pennies. I don’t bother to count to make sure it’s the right amount, but the point is that at the end of the hunt, Hilary can trade in her pennies for more manageable money to take to the gas station down the street and buy a frozen drink, which is the prize above all prizes to her.
Halfway to Pascha. Time to tighten up any observance that has grown slack. Time to take a deep breath and ride on the push of a second wind. Time to kneel down in body and fall down in repentance of heart. Welcome, welcome Lenten spring!