Friday, May 3, 2013

gratitude attitude

it's Good Friday today according to the Eastern Christian calendar, and this year i haven't done any of my "rituals" for Palm Sunday or Passion Week, mainly because i couldn't "find" the time and energy for it, or maybe i couldn't "make" the time. 
i felt guilty, both spiritually and familyly (that's not a word i know) because i haven't spent time reading bible passages and reflecting on what happened two thousand years ago during this week and i also haven't created any traditions for my children to follow, keep, and remember. 

when i was a child, the tradition started with wearing a dress that my mother made and finished very late the night before, attending Palm Sunday's morning service which included a special part for the children where we would sing carrying our olive tree branches and big candles as we walked in a row behind our pastor (who carried the hymn book as he changed) and go outside the church main door, rotated around the church building and came back inside from the side door, i don't know if there's an English version of the hymn we used to sing, then the children would go up on the pulpit and recite verses relevant to the occasion.

all week long there would be church services at 7pm from Tuesday to Friday including communion on Thursday night and a special service on Friday. the spring Damascene weather is vivid in my memory, warm mornings with a chilly breeze at night. when we became teenagers we were allowed to go as a group to attend "Christ's Funeral" at other churches, right before midnight a march used to start from one church lead by clergy men behind whom scout bands would walk around certain streets in the Christian parts of Damascus. the march includes the scouts music band playing well-known Good Friday sad music at the tail of the young people's march. i can't describe the crowds that would gather to watch and participate, let alone people on balconies of buildings along these streets who (previously during the day) received a brown paper bag with a cross-shaped cut on one side, filled with sand to hold a candle which they lit when the march starts. 

Easter Sunday morning had its own taste too, with similar marches but different music, triumphant tunes.  we used to attend the morning service at our church fist and then check out these marches on our way to my grandparent's house. at noon, when my grandparents come back form their church, where my grandfather is a pastor, we had the traditional big family gathering and Easter morning greetings exchange: "Christ is risen" the reply is "He is risen indeed". this activity includes lots and lots of colored boiled eggs, chocolate eggs, and home-made Easter backed "ka'ak" which are sweet and fragrant like cookie and have a bread-like softness. 

so what do i do with or for my family during this part of the year? nothing fixed or special which is worth carrying out and turning into an annual tradition. so this year i felt guilty for not meeting the standards i've set in my own head, but at the same time i felt grateful which is weird because the chain in my head usually goes like:

childhood memories - expectations of motherhood and own familyhood - shortcoming - guilt - excuse hunt - complaint - depression (of some level) - rumination over childhood memories

but this year right after the "guilt" ring i felt "gratitude" and this is revolutionary to me. my overwhelming feeling of gratitude broke this vicious cycle for the first time in 7 years, 7 Palm Sundays, 7 Passion Weeks, 7 Easter Sundays. the overwhelming ocean of gratitude washed away the guilt in my heart and mind as i lay down in bed one night with my two kids next to me (a treat when baba is out of town) i just let go of this urge to feel guilt and instead i surrendered to the waves of gratitude trusting that they will carry me to the shore safety ... isn't this what Good Friday is about? why do we feel that we have to beat ourselves up, to feel Christ's pain, to dig out our deepest sins and secrets so we can feel remorse... but Christ already did that FOR us and i think that all he wants us to do is to ACCEPT and BE GRATEFUL... so the new tradition for me this year is a GRATITUDE ATTITUDE that i hope i'll be able to live practically and reflect in numerous ways for my own sake and the sake of my husband, my children, my family and friends with whom i'll interact during this time of remembrance and thanksgiving for what God has done for us through Christ and the cross....

have a GOOD GRATITUDE Friday

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