April 1, 2018
Three weeks after I turned 18, I joined my version of the circus. I boarded a Chevy Econovan and headed for Oklahoma with a Christian acting company headquartered in Los Angeles. Not everyone on the van was a complete stranger, I did know the tour leader, Gary. He grew up in the same church I did. Gary was several years older than I but we knew his family, they were good people and I felt safe and excited to be going on not only this adventure, but this mission. I didn’t stay with this group long as they sent me back to LA to join a singing group that was scheduled to tour the southwestern US and after 4 months or so, I then joined another acting group touring Indiana and Illinois.
There are things that I experienced in the year I was with Covenant Players that I most certainly have forgotten, but many I remember. One memory that has left a lasting impression is a performance we did for Easter. The evening consisted of a grouping of 3 solo soliloquies, mine was portraying Mary, the mother of Jesus. Being only 18, I found it difficult getting into the role of a much older, heartbroken and devastated mother. What did I know about losing a child? While legally an adult, I was still very much a child.
I have thought about this performance almost every Easter since. Never when I was preparing for my Mary performance could I tap into what it would be like for MY parents to lose a child. After 41 years of additional experience, as well as having the joy of being a mother, I now know I could finally do justice to Mary’s story. I understand now and I share this painful possibility with my parents. Before this gets too morbid, let me say that my scans, tumor markers and blood counts continue to be good! But today, I am reminded of the circle of life…..and death.
When we were kids, Mom made my sisters and my Easter dresses and usually a vest for my brother. She curled our hair, polished our shoes, pressed our clothes and Dad hid the Easter eggs. He might have had the more difficult task as they have lived in the same house for 60 years and there are only so many hiding places. He became very creative, sometimes too creative for Mom’s taste. The day began with Sunday school followed by church services and then Easter lunch at one of my grandparents houses where my cousins and I would play most of the day. Priceless memories. When I was 22, I married my Greek Adonis and now I celebrate two Easter’s, you know ‘regular’ Easter and Greek Orthodox Easter. Yes, Easter has a special place in our lives, I doubled up to make the holiday even more poignant it would seem. But what does Easter mean to me?
It’s about death and resurrection, right? In our modern era we have tempered the holiday with the Easter bunny, chocolate eggs, Easter bonnets and ham or lamb, depending. Back to death and resurrection. For many years, I kept a safe distance from tapping into the suffering I imagine Christ must have experienced. How extraordinary to traverse from betrayal – to forgiveness, from humiliation – to humility, from physical suffering – to surrender and from struggle – to acceptance. I am very aware of my own questioning, my own pain and my own fear of surrendering. But, why have I been so adamant that surrendering is to be avoided no matter what? Does surrendering mean failure? By dying do we admit defeat? What exactly would I have failed at?
This year April Fools Day and Easter fall on the same day and I offer this for you to consider:
Dying is to be avoided at all costs….April Fools!
If I die then I FAILED…April Fools!
Pain and suffering should be avoided, at all costs…April Fools!
Hey! They say I have a terminal disease….April Fools!
If I die, then I will cease to ‘live’…..April Fools!
I think there is some brilliance to this approach.
You see, what I know deep in my soul is that no matter what happens, I WIN. I am not afraid of death. I hold a very strong belief that death in this third dimensional reality simply means transformation. We are energy, pure and simple. God is energy. God is light. God is Love. I will return home. We are majestic beings and I am doing my utmost to realize this. But, surrendering to death means saying goodby to this life and this life is a precious gift. Life is to be revered and honored. This is important to me. Life is brilliant but physical death is imminent, for all of us so it seems.
I will be watching ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ tonight. I will be singing along because I still know all the words and this musical is incredibly memorable for me. Easter and April Fools Day….God definitely has a sense of humor.
Wishing you grace this Easter and Passover.