Monday, April 01, 2013

Stamping Holy Week into our Hearts

Happy Easter (yesterday).

It was quite a holy week, as in holy cow, that was exhausting.   Exhausting but still lit with glory tucked into little moments as we paused each day to remember the great and glorious Easter miracle.

My mom gave me a book called “Christ Centered Easter” a few years back and I read it the week before Holy Week, along with my sister Saren’s suggestions and my friend Catherine’s ideas and I determined then and there to make the week a real event.  I put everything on my to do list off till next week and tried to focus all of my efforts on making Holy Week a real bright spot in our family tradition.  I wanted to adorn it with tastes and sounds and emotions and experience that would stamp the significance and glory of Easter into their little souls. 

The problem is, once I find a good idea I feel beholden to it, like I have to pull it off, and after reading and thinking I was chalk full of good ideas that I was determined to pull off.  We made an Easter tree and decorated eggs, we re-enacted Palm Sunday and tried to understand what Christ was doing each day of the week prior to his death on Good Friday. We had secret pals and tried to do some secret services for each other. We read parables, watched bible videos, learned new Easter songs, read Easter stories.  We had a Passover Seder/Last Super to help the kids try to understand some of the Jewish tradition that Christ lived and what his final meal might have been like.      We ate fish and honeycomb.

I think I may have bit off just a tiny bit more than we can chew (and definitely more than Jeff wanted to chew) and planned some things that might have worked better (been more spiritually uplifting and less frustrating) if I was doing them with a group of mature adults instead of varying ages of wild Shumway children.   

On Good Friday I was starting to feel a bit defeated, wondering why my children sometimes seem to be getting in the way of me raising them, and wondering if I’d be a better mother if I just sat on the couch and read a novel (to myself).   After all my efforts I wasn’t sure they were really getting it and I feared that perhaps I’d stamped the glory out of it by expecting so much of them, so much focus and reverence and depth.  They are just children, are they too young to get something so profound?  I don’t think so, but was I making it too burdensome with that long Passover Seder and all the scripture based activities that weren’t so terribly exciting?  Probably a bit.  Were they feeling loved as I moved them through all of these newfound Holy Week traditions, because, really that’s the only thing that’s important. 

I was in the middle of some kind of prep for something when Charlie, who had disappeared into the attic for an hour came down and beckoned me to come and see what he had made.  I have to admit, I hesitated, not really too eager to see yet another jet fighter plane when I had so much to accomplish before dinner.  But then he brought me this:IMG_3255 And I was floored.  Hallelujah! It was sinking in!  Even though it seemed he was barley listening and constantly moving and giggling, he was indeed internalizing the things we were trying to teach him throughout the week, at least the most important parts.  He had absorbed them and then let them flow out of him in the best way he knows how to let things flow out: LEGO.   I paused and let it all wash over me too.  Something about this LEGO scene hit it home for all of us.  He is not there, the stone is rolled back, He is risen.  IMG_3261 Even though we weren't getting everything right, some of it was getting through, and that felt pretty awesome.  IMG_3264  IMG_3271 I’m still trying to figure out how to modify Holy Week next year.  I am learning every year how traditions grow rather and change and evolved and that’s ok.  That’s good.  It’s a work in progress, and every year is getting smoother.  Next year I want to simplify things a bit, cut a few things out, plan ahead a little more, savor more moments.  I still want to push us all to do the hard stuff, teach, instruct, focus on Christ, but as I plan out the week for my family I hope I’ll hold back the blog and books and pinterest ideas until I’ve had a good long planning session with the Source.  I believe that if I prayerfully plan this Holy Week I can be more in tune with who we are, what we need, how I can move us through our Holy Week observance with a little less frustration and a lot more love. 

Egg dying and scripture reading, Passover Seders and Easter trees are all empty without love. 

Really, truly, LOVE is the only thing that will stamp any of the Easter glory into their little souls. 


  1. That lego tomb - that is just amazing. I'm a primary school teacher - and the only time you know that a lesson has truly been learnt by a child is when it is demonstrated in independent play.
    I always do an interactive retelling of the Holy Week Story (Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday) with all the children at church on Good Friday. I have little, simple scenes set up around the building and we walk from one to another. And at every part I tell that section of the story and we role role/do a symbolic action - e.g. wave palm branches, I wash their feet, we eat bread and drink grape juice, we hold nails in our hands as we look at the large cross. It's a hard story - but I know that children understand it at their own level. And it's the repetition year, on year that really gets into their hearts.

  2. "Wondering why my children sometimes seem to be getting in the way of me raising them, and wondering if I’d be a better mother if I just sat on the couch and read a novel (to myself)." Oh goodness, I'm not sure I want to admit how deeply I related to this sentence. Thank you for sharing this, Saydi.

    And that Lego tomb. That is enough to bring tears to your eyes. Those are good kids that you have.

    And last, your next post on La Jolla...I left my heart there when we moved. I miss it. La Jolla and my heart.

  3. Love this Sayds. I've been feeling the exact same way lately. Love you and all that you do to mother so amazingly.

  4. As you might be able to tell, the name “Easter” was likely derived from Eostre, the name of the Anglo-Saxon lunar goddess, as was as the name for the female hormone estrogen.

    Eostre’s feast day was held on the first full moon following the vernal equinox — a similar calculation as is used for Easter among Western Christians. On this date the goddess Eostre is believed by her followers to mate with the solar god, conceiving a child who would be born 9 months later on Yule, the winter solstice which falls on December 21st.

    Two of Eostre’s most important symbols were the hare (Easter Bunny) and the egg, which symbolized the growing possibility of new life. Each of these symbols continues to play an important role in modern celebrations of Easter. Curiously, they are also symbols which Christianity has not fully incorporated into its own mythology.

    American Christians continue to generally celebrate Easter as a religious holiday. Christians and non-Christians alike celebrate Easter in decidedly non-Christian ways: with chocolate and other forms of Easter candy, Easter eggs, Easter egg hunts, the Easter bunny, and so forth.

    Most cultural references to Easter include these elements, most of which are pagan in origin.

  5. Very sweet post, Saydi. You are a beautiful soul. xoxo

  6. Oh Saydi, I love you. You're so right. And I can absolutely relate to trying to pull "ideas" off that fall flat and then I'm frustrated with my kids. This sentence had me laughing and crying because I so get it: "wondering why my children sometimes seem to be getting in the way of me raising them, and wondering if I’d be a better mother if I just sat on the couch and read a novel (to myself)." Today I just chased kids all over the neighborhood, trying to keep them alive and fed, but they didn't listen to a thing I said. They just did their own thing and showed up when they got hungry. You're so right to consult the Lord in what is best for your family. He knows. All of you. Perfectly. I hope my ideas didn't give you more stress this week. That remains the rub with blogging. And yes, all traditions are empty if we are more concerned about the tradition than people we are doing it with. I love your wisdom. And Charlie's lego tomb? Beyond sweet. You're such a good mamma. I love you.

  7. I love the LEGO tomb! Would you mind if I posted it on our blog,
    I think it would fit perfectly!

  8. Just yesterday, when he was supposed to be packing for his conference and helping me assemble for the family camping trip this weekend, I found Rob in the middle of a huge pile of Legos, building a spaceship.
    When I called him on it, he explained that "Lego is Joss's love language! I had to do it before I left him!"
    I had to admit that if there is a Lego love language, it is certainly Joss's dominant one. And perhaps the love language of some of your children too. That cross and tomb are priceless.



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