Sunday, April 24, 2011

Welcome Happy Morning — this is not an Easter story, well, not really

This morning I woke to my dog sniffing out our bedroom window at the wind. He does this every morning, rising usually before the sun is up, and now that it's warm enough for us to sleep with the window open, he sniffs. If you watch him, his nose is the only thing on his body that moves...often he keeps his eyes shut tight against the rising sun, so he can get the pulse of the morning. What creatures may have traipsed through our yard in the night, who (meaning neighborhood dog) has already walked by before day was up? Has his friend Sookie walked by without him? Is there a new girl dog in town? And I like to think he is, after living all this time with me, listening to the birds. He sees things with that nose, that it takes a discerned human mind to detect.

It is Easter. I love Easter. The new chance for everyone. All church and new birth, hymns and lilies, all the welcoming of this happy morning and the trumpets and drums. The Good News. I used to take my kids' pictures every year in their Easter outfits, and today I have looked through the Facebook postings of my younger friends — of dying eggs and fitting heads with bonnets, plucking flowers from the yard for the Easter cross, and I just miss it. Just plain miss it all over the place. The whole making of the Easter Bunny cake and the jelly beans in the basket that somehow don't ever get eaten, even that. (Now I just keep a bowl of jelly beans on the counter, and they disappear.)

But Easter is not Easter without church for me, and in the past few years, our church has become so crowded on Easter morning that we have found ourselves at times so pinched in our seats that we wondered if we could find enough welcome in our morning to say "Happy Easter!" (Please, don't say: what a Scrooge!)

So in the past couple of years, we have chosen the Easter Vigil, an ancient service that starts with fire in the dark and ends with trumpets and light, and a welcome, for the day that is yet to rise. And room in the pew. So that's what we did last night.

Mind you that this has changed my entire Easter tradition. The whole dying of the egg thing, the baskets with straw, the lamb after the morning service. This year, like the past few,  our daughter and her husband were not here, so we had lamb chops on the grill before the Vigil, broke bread with our son in the back yard with the bluebirds flitting in and out of the box. Not at all a bad thing, but different.

And today, well, today, instead of church —and because we had already celebrated the Resurrection — we went sailing.

My husband is a sailor. On Saturdays, he heads due north (in the car), an hour away to the Fortune's Fool, which (six boats, different names ago) I accused of being his mistress. I've calmed down about that a bit now. He has his Saturday sails and I have my Saturday writing and reading and naps, (my laundry), and only on the prettiest, windiest days do I feel guilty that I am not with him.

But today... well, today, we planned it. Looked at the weather forecast five days ago and planned our whole weekend around our afternoon sail. Our son, who lives in our same town but you would never know it unless he is hungry, came "home for the weekend," for church, for sleep, to eat, to sail.

It is a rare day when the three of us are together, untethered to anything but each other. And on a sailboat, in the middle of a windy lake, well, that's what we were. Tethered. Or at least I imagine that's how he felt at times during our weekend.

Our son often thinks we are idiots, bumbling middle-aged folks who can't possibly have one interesting thing to say, not one inkling of a creative bone between the two of us. Honestly, what do we do with our lives when our children leave us to start theirs? I can't possibly imagine.

I took the new camera I am still trying to learn how to use,  and he said it's too dark to capture the Whooping Crane I saw. (He does know how to take pictures, and he was right.) When the boat veered too close to shore, his dad said: see any Indians? My 24-year-old threw back that he "was 24-years-old," and his dad needed to cultivate a few new jokes. He was, again, right.

It was not a day of crisp conversation, as it would have been if Big Sis had been aboard. I spent much of the time with my eyes closed, listening to the wind, or watching the clouds (I am working on a children's book with clouds as the main characters, but though I read renditions of this book to him as a child, did I share it with him? No... )

But none of this mattered, because we were together, the three of us, breaking bread in a boat with the wind whipping and the sails furled and the clouds spinning all around. (I did once or twice think about the story of Jesus visiting the disciples after the Resurrection, as they sailed and fished, but would have left with empty nets, had he not told them to fish from the other side.)

I sat, as two of the most important men in my life worked in tandem to manage that wind as it filled the sails, whipped them round and about and round again, my hands on the dog. (We were only scared once.)

On the way home, the dog sat in my lap, exhausted from hanging on. (There is of course another story as to why.) I watched my two men in the front seat, silent except on occasion, trying to find piece of my son in his dad. They don't look much alike, but if you know what to look for, it is there.