Friday, April 20, 2012

Spring Break and Holy Week

We spent a relatively quiet and au naturel spring break as a family at a comfortable lake house. With a lakefront view, canoes, fishing poles, books, board games, books, (homework), and the smell of wildflowers, we were set to enjoy the beauty of spring. The only downer was the intensive tree pollen for Matthew, who’s terribly allergic, and this year’s pollen counts were off the charts. Perhaps it was due to Mother Nature deleting the “winter program” this year and fast-forwarding to spring. For the rest of us, the air was just perfect: cool and low humidity. Since my oven is in bad shape, thanks to a grease fire that now leaves the kitchen smelling awful any time it’s used, I haven’t baked anything and only cooked on the stovetop. So having a functioning oven at this house in which I could roast a pork loin was wonderful!

It was Holy Week and we began the vacation on Saturday before Palm Sunday. I can’t remember a time when I’ve missed a Palm Sunday service; even Nicholas said he missed folding the branches into the shape of a cross. But though we weren’t at church, it was possible to feel God’s presence all around us in nature. Hard to look at a natural setting with blooming plants and not be conscious of a Creator. And Wesley and I finished reading a pictorial of Pilgrim’s Progress that we’d been working through during the Lenten season.

As much as I love my home, it was good to be away from that environment and all the reminders of unfinished projects and our tiresome routines (“Boys, clean up this hurricane zone that is your room” and “Get back to the piano and finish your practice”)  Instead we spent a lot of time in nature.
 Hiking on a woodland trail, we found an animal skull

learned how to spot poison ivy, and found possible animal caves under exposed tree roots. Good stuff.

The weather couldn’t have been better. It’s been a while since I’ve lain in the grass and just looked up at the sky. Being still is hard for me, even when I purposely sit down to meditate; within 5 minutes, I’m moving around again to either stretch or do something that seems pressing before I make myself get still again.

We built good memories as a family too –

it wasn’t an expensive and glamorous trip to Disney World

or Italy, like some of the boys’ other friends

but it was simple, fun and enjoyable.

And though we weren't in church much, I think we were aware of God's presence in His creation.

On Good Friday, I attended a service that was mostly chanted in a monastic style, another wonderful way to break free of the fast-paced, high-tech world in which we rush around and get overstimulated. Walking through Jesus' trial and crucifixion made the Paschal Triduum (the last three days of Lent meant for prayer) gave a more contemplative sense to the weekend, leading to Easter Sunday's rejoicing in the gift of salvation and grace.

Upon returning we found the eggs in a bird's nest, built in one of the shelves of our garage, had tiny chicks that had poked their way out while we were away. Little beaks straining upward, opening wide at any sound, hoping it was food.

And just this week, a mere 10 days later, they've opened their eyes and grown big enough to fly the coop. I found this little guy hanging out in the garage -- check out the eyebrows.

I'm already missing our little family. But life moves on and the juveniles are now flitting about in the yard, encouraged by their parents who fly around them, behind to nudge them forward and ahead for them to follow.

Onward and upward