Easter People

Current mood:  dorky
Category: Life

It’s my turn to blog at Seven Wicked Writers and here is what I wrote:
Last night I attended the penultimate event in my Greek Orthodox church’s social calendar: the resurrection service, which starts at 11pm and winds down around 2am. My friends and family arrived early, filling the entire front pew by 10 o’clock. 
I’d like to say it’s because we’re so religious, but really, we like to be first in line to a) take communion before all the weird-looking people get their mouths on that communal spoon and b) there are the Easter eggs they hand out, only if you stay until the very end.
The night before, my god daughter Eleanna got a kick out of the fact that actor Tom Hanks, one of our most prominent members, carried the flower-bedecked epitaph around the church. He looked exhausted having flown in from some movie location or other, but he smiled at her and Eleanna was entranced.
I am a practicing Buddhist but I was born Greek Orthodox and I still love the traditions of my church, especially at Easter. Our priest, Father John is a wonderful man who knows his flock and loves us for our flaws and triumphs and Saturday night is his big night.
I wait all year to hear what he has to say on Saturday night and midway through the service, my best friend Tony curled up asleep beside me, I took a look over my shoulder and was stunned to see the Greek Orthodox Cathedral in east L.A. was packed.
Father John has attracted an eclectic crowd to our church. I saw people of many races and many different Orthodox religions. Father John beamed at the congregation.
“We are all Easter people,” he said. “This is our religion. Our religion says we have a new beginning, each and every year. We embrace the new. We let go of the old. We let go of the hurts, the angers, the disillusionment. Here, we forget our troubles. Here, we know we are safe.”
Father John is a kind and courageous man. I have always loved the fact our church is so humane. He reaches out to everyone in his community and recently traveled to Constantinople with the Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, hurrying home because he’s about to be a grandfather.
Our priests are allowed to marry and have families. They don’t tell us how to conduct our sex lives, unlike the Catholic church.
I listened to Father John talking and noticed Tony springing to life at 1.30 in the morning when it came time for communion.
“Where are the Easter eggs?” he moaned. “I’m so disappointed.”
“They’re coming,” I said and wondered if the altar boy would notice if I took two cubes of bread on my way through the communion line.
So yes, I was moved by Father John’s speech but I was also excited about my Easter egg. Last year, See’s Candy donated tons of their most expensive selection, which thrilled everybody. Somebody’s been tightening their money belt because this year, we each received a traditional, hard-boiled egg dyed red.
“It’s not chocolate truffle, is it,” Tony griped. “You made me sit through this for a hard-boiled egg?”
“The wine was pretty good,” I replied.
“A.J. it was a spoonful of wine, but yeah, I must admit it was pretty tasty. Do you suppose they’ll mind if I jump in line for seconds?”
In the end, he didn’t. We walked down the darkened streets of an otherwise shabby neighborhood in the glow of a church that is promising us new beginnings. We munched our eggs with one hand, holding our lit candles in the other. In Greek tradition, you are supposed to walk home with your candle burning. Should it extinguish, it’s considered bad luck. However, since we were driving, it was impossible to keep the candles aflame.
We all counted to three and blew them out. Choosing to extinguish puts us in control, we decided. That’s the promise, and I hope, not an illusion, of new beginnings.
Yes, I am an Easter person and today, I wish you good fortune, good happiness, wonderful new beginnings and lots and lots of chocolate.
Aloha oe,

Currently listening:
By Nelly Furtado
Release date: 2006-06-20

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