Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Remember White Gloves and White Mary Jane's?

I wrote a rather deep thought-provoking blog on Holy Week yesterday on my Sounds of Hope blog.  You can read it here.  I thought about continuing on that theme.  I have a lot of those thoughts right now.  Seems Holy Week brings them out of me.  As we remember Christ’s passion I think it should bring a lot of deep, reflective thoughts.  However, I think I’d rather take a little bit lighter approach today.

I was not raised in a liturgical church.  Back then, we called them “mainline” churches with a bit of a distain in our voices.  We spurned all things ritualistic as it did not allow the spirit to move.  While I fully understood the message of Holy Week and Easter, our “holy week” was spent focusing on what to wear on Easter.  My mother usually made my clothes for such momentous occasions.  New white gloves were bought and ruffled white socks were bleached to perfection.  This would be the first time I wore my "spring coat."  I remember clearly some of my Easter dresses, and of course the necessary Easter bonnet.

There would also be talk of Easter baskets but never a lot of talk about the bunny that is supposed to bring them.  Perhaps that was too secular.  My mother was a flurry of activity during Holy Week for in addition to my clothes, she needed a dress for herself, and a meal to plan and prepare.  Usually a ham would grace our Easter table complete with brown sugar, pineapple rings, and those little black studs, cloves.

One element of liturgy always crept into to Holy Week.  It was the only time I heard the term Holy Week, as to us it was the “week before Easter.”  My mother was in charge of “released time.”  New York City schools allowed for a weekly one hour release from school for religious instruction at the church or synagogue of your choice.  Each year as Easter approached, she would be notified by the Pastors of the 4th Avenue churches that it was time to plan the joint Holy Week released time services. 

I think my mother was intimidated by these “mainline” pastors.  Most were Lutheran and seminary trained and here she was this woman with a 10th grade education.  Her only qualification was she loved Jesus and she loved children.  I remember the year she came home upset because they made jokes about hymns and ruined the song “In the Garden” for her.  She said they called it the Andy song – Andy walks with me Andy talks with me. 

But it was part of her duties to share in this one ecumenical event.  The Norwegian children of Salem had never been exposed to the “state church.”  We were dissenters.  We were purer.  We were holier. But we went.  Into those mysterious Lutheran churches we would see our friends from school and celebrate Holy Week.  One year, my mother volunteered me for a long narration of the Passion scriptures.  I remember saying with all seriousness: “My betrayer draweth near”  and foolishly wondered if Lutheran's could be "saved."

Soon it would be Good Friday, or Long Friday as my father would insist it should be called.  He would say every year, why do you call it Good?  Somehow long suited his translation from Norwegian to English much better than good.  Our hustle to get ready for the big day stopped for a few hours on Friday.  Every shop was closed for the hours that Jesus hung on the cross.  The neighborhood became somber for those hours. 

My childhood thoughts turned from my new dress and patent leather shiny Mary Jane shoes to a cross.  Sometimes a cloud would come during that time and I’d remember my Sunday School lesson.  I’d remember that the sky turned dark and the veil was torn in the Temple as He hung there for me. 

I won’t get new clothes this Easter.  I haven’t played dress up for a long time.  I’d like to.  I will think of the cross.  I will think of Christ’s Passion.  I will think of those days before His Passion as He spent His last moments with His disciples, including Judas who would betray Him.  I wonder if He prayed for Judas?  I will remember those hours in the Garden as He sweat drops of blood in agony. 

I will be participating in some of that liturgy my parent’s distained.  I know the Spirit moves in ritual as well as freedom.  It will help me with my remembrance.  

How will you remember?


David-FireAndGrace said...

Wow, dressing up, what a concept!

I too will be enjoying the thoughts of His passion.

Liz Kay said...

Growing up, I think the Easter season was even more exciting than Christmas. I absolutely LOVED the anticipation of Easter - including getting a brand new dress, bonnet, white gloves (!), socks, shoes & purse.

Part of the excitement was also the warmer weather & the colorful flowers blooming. But I think I also sensed the joy & excitement in the adults around me (at Salem) for the upcoming Easter season. They were celebrating the Risen Christ. Altho there was some fuss over choosing just the 'right' bonnet, there was no pressure about purchasing gifts or hanging holiday lights, or sending holiday cards... it was pure & simple - Christ has risen. And we sang with complete abandon, "He lives! He lives! Christ Jesus lives today..."

Joyce Lighari said...

Liz, I can hear it in my heart. Christ Yesus lives today He valks vith me and talks vith me... but I also hear the choir with their amazing sound proclaiming Up from the grave He arose with a mighty triumph o'er His foes He arose the wictor o'er the dark domain and He lives forever with His saints to reign - Men... he arose - women answer... he arose - all together now HALLELUJAH, CHRIST AROSE
Sorry all the rest of you reading this but I couldn't resist sharing that memory with Liz

Liz Kay said...

Yes, I can still hear the voices singing, Christ Yesus lives today... LOL!

LIN said...

I remember the solemness of Good Friday in our church. I was young ( maybe 10) and went alone to our church and I know I "got it" that Jesus had to die on the cross...I was heartbroken.
It would be years before I understood that the Atonement was/is central to the message of the Gospel...there was just no other way. ( I wished there was)
He HAD TO die...so that I could LIVE.
It will never/can never be good works of mine that will "earn" me a way to spend eternity with Him...those good works are a RESULT of what He has done for me.
The question is " Will I accept that???" HE is the Savior of mankind and there is NO GOD beside Him...no other God died for me and for you.
Yes, on the lighter side...I too loved the "dress up". I had friend who was older than me and I got her hand me downs for Easter anyway...I felt like a princess in them.
One year, I got my first brand new pair of Mary Jane's black patent leather shoes with a black and white flower motif. I ws SO excited as I described my new shoes to Sharon, my friend, an only child...it sounded like she got the same ones....I ran down several blocks to show her mone and they matched. I somehow felt "worthy" that my mother bought the same shoes as Sharon. ( I also learned the tip of "polishing" the patent leather with vaseline and wiping it off with a kleenex)
I also remember the priest coming to bless the food on saturday before Easter Sunday AND Easter Butter Lambs that the nun's made. (look on You Tube to see the making of them)
Thanks for your trips down memory lane...I feel I am walking right along with you

Tracy said...

OK - you actually made me laugh out loud with the "Andy song" comment. Rather a clever thought.

I, too, have found liturgy to be helpful with my remembrances. Perhaps, somehow the fact that I was also not raised in a Christian tradition that practiced these things, makes them even more special somehow, extra unique. I'm enjoying having devotion times each day focusing on those last days in Jesus' life and on Friday I'll focus on His time on the cross. I can never seem to get past the inability to really grasp that He suffered so for me. The sheer wonder of it.......

Tony C said...

It's true, I find myself much deeper in thought about Jesus this week. Without discussing details, there are things I do and don't do this week leading up to Easter Sunday.

Holy Week isn't a recognized 'church event' where I go, and that's perfectly okay with me. I prefer the closeness with God felt as I remember this week's events in solitude.