Lent is over. The Easter fire is lit. In just about seven or so hours, it will be blessed, we will light our candles and illuminate the church. And so begins the Easter Vigil; practically the same way across the world in their own time zones. It begins so late because we wait until dark.
Every year from Ash Wednesday until tonight, I am asked if it brings back memories of my own first Easter Vigil. I never know what to say. Of course, it does, in many ways, but in others it fosters new memories that blend with the old ones. It is also hard to explain that my Easter Vigil is often somehow with me more often than not. Every time, I cross myself at the holy water font. Every time, I receive the Eucharist, I think back to that very first one. Each one feels like the first time, and each subsequent one is a crumb on the path I have chosen.
For many, Christ is chosen for them, through their families and traditions, through their spouses or wanting to give something to our children to connect them to “their people”, but as we get older and understand more and hear more, and even listen more, we make choices along the way, every step of the path we follow. Turn left? Or right? Confirmation? Or not? Weekly communion? Or is that first one enough? Is it all that I need?
I didn’t know what was being offered when I chose Christ. I had only intended to choose a ritual, a place of being that make me feel…something; feel better about my life. In staying, I chose a new path, a dim path until one day, just like that, it was lit, brighter than the sun, all encompassing, my eyes rising to meet the glow. Despite the glow of suns and brightness unimaginable, my eyes stayed. I didn’t hear words or sounds, but my heart heard the words. Not words, but something translated, engraved on my soul, that while giving me many choices really gave me none.
Once it was there, it can not be taken away. My only choice is to accept what I’ve been gifted and continue my direction, my directing, my learning, my new way.
Every day that I have not been on retreat, I have attended the daily mass during Lent. For the past two weeks, I have remained in the church to recite the rosary. Those two commitments have given me a steadiness to carry me through this time in the desert.
Easter begins and Passover is ending, and they both celebrate the release from bondage, the exiting from the desert, the wilderness, our yearly exodus.