When I was a little girl, waking up Easter Morning was the second best time of the year for me. Right between Christmas morning and the First Day of School. The night before, we put our Easter Baskets by the front door, and in the morning they were gone, hidden somewhere in the house. Anticipation of the goodness waiting for me, if I just searched hard enough, made my stomach jittery like too much coffee does now.
Forty days and forty nights ago, all the statues and the crucifix got covered in purple cloth and the little bowls of holy water at the back of the church got emptied. I thought I’d never remember to forget about blessing myself when I came in and out of church; no point with an empty blessing-cup. Finally, no holy water was normal and then comes Easter morning: Surprise, everything is changed again; bright and wonderful. At church, it was glorious ’cause everything was like brand new.
Easter was when I got to put on my new hat, and the brand new dress Mom made just for Easter. All the girls and women had on new straw hats, with flowers in the ribbon, and the dresses looked like a field of flowers: pink tulips, red roses, yellow daffodils, and purple hyacinths. Starched stiff, with bows tied straight across behind all the girls dresses, just like we were freshly wrapped presents. Even Father looked like sunshine with his white vestment embroidered with a crucifix across the whole front and back with golden rays of sun just a-shooting out of it.
The whole church was full of Easter Lilies, and the two sets of three candles were lit on the altar, not just the one lonely candles on each side like all during Lent. Most of the time, I held my breath when the my friend Mike’s big brother Bob, who was an altar boy, came out to light the candles. Girls couldn’t be altar boys, ’cause only boys can get to be priest, that’s another one of those rules. I guess when he was building the church and making up the rules about who could run things, Peter forgot all about the Marys and Veronica, who stayed right by Jesus when he got tortured and nailed on the cross and died. Mom said that a smart woman lets the man think he’s running things, ’cause then his feelings don’t get hurt. That was another one I had a hard time catching on to, like keeping my lip zipped.
All during Lent, just one candle on each side got lit, that was a low mass: pretty quick. If three candles got lit on each side: high mass, never during Lent. High mass meant gobs of singing in Latin, on and on, Ed come spur tutu, oh and dominoes Nabisco, until I thought it would never end. I thought it was polite how Bob sent out a little signal with the candles like that, then I knew whether I had to get ready for the long haul with a bunch of day-dreaming. On Easter, right behind the gospel side of church, stood a brand-new-taller-than-me Pascal candle, which Bob had to reach way up on tip toes to light.
On Easter it was always high mass, except it seemed like it was so long ago that Father did a high mass that all that singing, one note over and over, then everyone changing it up a bit all at the same time like they learned to sing that way when they were still up in heaven before they got born, made my stomach feel all relaxed and happy, like after having a cup of hot chocolate.
The singing, all the hallalulias and hosannas, and the bell ringing for the high mass just got me reminded how empty all of Lent was, and now it was like everything woke up and came alive, just like Jesus did. God sure picked a good time to make the most super-duper miracle of all, ’cause the whole world was just like a big rock got rolled back and rose from the dead.