On this sacred day, Good Friday, it felt as if my husband and children were all working to remind me about sacrifice and about giving. Dominick left the house at 6:00 this morning and was not to return until 8:00 PM this evening, having worked a very long and arduous day to provide for his family...and then apologizing for coming home so late. Apologize? For what...for caring so much about all of us that you will work 14 hour days to see to it that our needs are met? Dominick, you have given up so much for your family, and you do so without complaint. With your employee you washed 2 entire car lots, detailed 3 cars and pressure washed a building...and amazingly still came walking in the door with a smile as broad as can be. I honestly don't have a clue how you do it, you amaze me daily.
As we left school today, our Principal caught me at the exit and pulled me aside asking if I had heard about what Kenny did today. Kenny seemed to have no idea what was coming and looked a tad bit fearful for a moment. One of Kenny's reading teachers is taking a leave of absence for the remainder of the school year for a medical procedure. Yesterday I could tell that Kenny was a little sad about this, and he asked if he could take in some cookies to make a little good bye party with he and the 3 or 4 other students in his small group. This morning he decided he wanted to dress up for her last day, so he wore a long sleeve shirt and tie. Interestingly, this is so typically Kenny that despite the kids running around in their T-Shirts and shorts I didn't see anyone even give him a second glance as they would most kids coming to school in a tie...this is a young man who is simply destined to "dress for success" and the business garb settles on him quite naturally. Before they left for school all 3 boys asked if they could take a couple of dollars to purchase something at the Friday Store at school. Well, in his small reading group today the Principal was present for the "good bye" party, and it seems Kenny tried to give his money to his teacher as a gift. When she wouldn't accept it, he excused himself saying he had to use the restroom...then appeared a few minutes later bearing a stuffed animal he had bought at the Friday Store and he presented it to her saying she could have it with her in the hospital so she wouldn't be scared. The Principal said the teacher turned to him and said she had never been so touched in all her career and was near tears. Admittedly, so was I.
We then made our way to the van, where Matthew had a big grin on his face and said "Everyone, close your eyes! I have a surprise for you!" and out of his backpack he brings out decorative pencils that he purchased for each of us...and none for himself. He said "I just felt like getting everyone a little something!".
Later this evening, after Dominick came home grinning and yet very weary, he was laying on the floor and Joshua came up and offered to rub his back and legs for him, and spent 20 minutes giving Daddy a massage so he would feel better.
I look around our little family and I see so much generosity, so much care for one another and others. It is an utterly unexpected blessing of motherhood, these wonderful spirits I am surrounded by. When writing an essay for my ministry classes a few months back in which we were asked to share what we do to nurture and care for ourselves, I tried to explain that despite the fact that I am the mom of 3 young sons I get just as much from our relationship as I put into it, and that being with my children is not at all the drain it might be considered by others to be, but instead is a time of spiritual connection unlike any other I have in my life. It is very hard to explain to anyone who doesn't live in our little family that the boys are incredibly deep little beings who stimulate my thinking in ways many adults can't do, who connect with the real essence of God in ways many adults would never understand. Where many people would see 3 energetic responsibilities, I see relationships to rest in.
Today, on Good Friday, we are all reminded of the sacrifice Jesus made for us all. Sometimes we don't give that much thought, and for some it is a fairy tale or story from history rather than a personalized experience. Some people believe in having a personal relationship with Jesus and others are more generalized and distanced in their understanding of the Trinity and Jesus' role.
Whether one believes in Christ as the Son of God and a Savior come to redeem us all from sin, or as a mere "prophet", if one examines the details of a crucifixion and the agony of a death which occurs in this manner you can't help but cringe. Our minds want to turn away from such violence when it is presented to us, for most people it is almost a reflexive action to not linger on such thoughts.
Regardless of our individual perspectives on the truth of the actual Deity of Christ...that Man named Jesus thought He was sacrificing His life for ours. If he wasn't fulfilling prophecy but was instead a delusional individual as some have said through the ages, even then the idea that this mere mortal thought he would sacrifice himself for all of mankind still blows you away...that ANYONE would willingly take on such a death for another human being is hard to fathom. I'd love to say I would, but that would be a total lie as I would never have that kind of courage. But if this Great Act was indeed the fulfillment of all that was prophesied all those many years prior to the crucifixion, it makes the sacrifice that much more meaningful...that Jesus who had the Power to do as He wished actually went ahead and died for you, for me, for all of us throughout time. Wow, now THAT is love.
I am one of the lucky ones here on earth. I have a loving family that is far more than I deserve, I have friendships that run deep and strong, I have all my needs met. But as I have discovered over the past few years, the single thing that is the biggest blessing in my life is my relationship with God and how it has transformed my thinking and who I have become. That transformation is still a work in progress and probably always will be. I will wrestle with doubts just like anyone else does, but somewhere within that wrestling lies the key to an active and engaged faith life...it is what keeps it real and rewarding.
As we go about our Easter weekend with it's egg dying and basket finding, let us give thanks for the example of sacrifice God provided us in Jesus. Christian or athiest, there is a lot to be learned from it. But more importantly, let us move beyond giving thanks and reach for higher ground...let us sacrifice for others as we have had sacrificed for us.
May you have a blessed Easter.