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Being outside Holy Week…

It isn’t Holy Week for me, not yet. It won’t be Easter this year, it will be Pascha and it will be a week later than most of my friends and all of my family celebrate the Resurrection.

It’s a strange feeling, this not being Holy Week and yet seeing “holy week” and “end of Lent” and “Easter is coming” all over the internet and the grocery store aisles. I feel like the odd man out. I feel outside of it all, everything. I don’t know where I fit. Except, that maybe I do.

This feeling outside of the norm isn’t a new one for me. I suppose I’ve always felt that. It’s only now that it has any context and it’s only this year, for the first time, that I find myself part of a community of “outsiders” where Orthodoxy is concerned. Last Pascha I was still very much wandering, afraid to engage, afraid to commit. This year when Holy Week does roll around there will be people who have an expectation of me. There is a group of people who will actively be looking for my children to show up and be a part of the celebration. There is a group of people who will have had conversations with me live and in person, who will be looking for me at midnight. My priest will notice this year if I am absent and he will ask about it if I do not show up, not as judgement but as concern, as care.

The kids and I will be accepted as catechumens this week, our Palm Sunday. While everyone else is at church celebrating the risen Christ my family will be taking up the commitment to become Orthodox as we take up Palms together with our community of faith and then we will begin Holy Week. It’s fitting that we’re a week off, that we’re still waiting this first Pascha as a family of catechumens. I feel I’ve been wandering this ancient road forever and have a long, long way to go still. Nothing will change when I am chrismated, no dove will descend, no magical empowerments, no super strength to keep my fasts or remember to pray. But things are shifting in me all the time now; good things, rough things, comfortable things.

Just stepping foot onto this road opened me up to the earthquake, the landslide, the high winds. Community is the shelter,

prayer is the shelter,

practice is the shelter…

and the earthquake,

and the landslide

and the high winds

with voice whispering

to the long time wanderer,

come in

be here now.