My adult Easters have taken on a pretty predictable rhythm. My husband and I drive three hours to his parents’ house. We go to Mass, dressing fancier than usual, and if I have my way, we take a family picture. My mother-in-law makes a feast of a brunch, and we catch up with my husband’s siblings and our nieces and nephews over wonderful food. And then… it’s over. We help clear the dishes. We drive three hours home. And Easter is over.
The Easter season lasts for 50 days — longer, importantly, than the 40 days of Lent. Fifty days for feasting, for rejoicing, for celebrating. But I’m not sure I’ve ever really done this season. I’m not even sure what that would look like.
I do my best to observe Lent, as do many of my friends, giving thoughtful creativity to what we give up or take on. We’ve extended the idea of fasting beyond the literal fast from food and give up social media or binge-watching or whatever else as a means of trying to draw closer to God.
What if we could extend the Easter feast as intentionally as we practice the Lenten fast, giving the same thoughtful creativity into choosing practices of rejoicing? Maybe we can’t eat an Easter Sunday brunch (and Cadbury crème eggs) for 50 days, but how else could we feast?
This year, I’m experimenting with this, choosing some practices as a way to rejoice in this season of hope.
So this Easter, I’ll feast on gratitude.
The heartbeat of Christian life is giving frequent thanks. The Easter season is an opportunity to be grateful in a particularly wonderful way, delighting in the abundant generosity of the God who takes on even death for us — and wins.
So throughout this season, I’ll make a point of saying “thank you” more often. I’ll try to really mean the automatic words of thanks I murmur to cashiers and waiters. I’ll choose to pray in thanks for my family at least as often as I pray for patience in my moments of frustration with them. At the end of each day, I’ll make a point of noticing something really good about that day. I’ll remember that it came from Someone, and I’ll say thanks, whispering Easter joy into the quietest moment of my day.
I’ll feast on relationship.
I’ll reach out to one of those old friends I’m always meaning to get back in touch with. I’ll fulfill long-standing promises of coffee dates and phone calls. I’ll invite friends over without worrying about elaborate hosting, focusing on keeping my door open rather than keeping my floor perfectly mopped. I’ll make some sort of special plans with my husband, like we always say we’re going to. I’ll focus on fun more. I’ll put on music while I’m making dinner and dance with whomever is nearby, spinning until giggles take over and turn into wholehearted belly laughs, ringing out Easter joy right there in my kitchen.
And I’ll feast, most of all, on beauty.
I’ll play Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony when the baby wakes up earlier than I would have chosen. And since I’m up anyway, I’ll make a point of noticing the clarity of dawn’s light. I’ll spend more time outside and will really pay attention to all the ways life is bursting forth in the spring. I’ll choose flowers from the farmer’s market to keep in my kitchen (maybe I’ll buy some for a friend, too!). I’ll intentionally notice the birdsong that surrounds me, and I’ll hear in it a thousand tiny “alleluias”— a song of Easter joy all around me.
I should note that I’m not being as specific or disciplined with these ideas as I am with my Lenten practices. Instead, I’m trying to create a sort of matrix of joy, a background wash of small choices that remind me of the Resurrection and help me rejoice amidst all the usual busy-ness of life.
This year when I help clear the brunch dishes, I’ll do it not with a sense of sadness that Easter is over, but with a very real hope that it is just beginning.