Monday, March 17, 2008

Springtime, a ding-a-ding time

For as many years as I've lived out of the house, I've gotten a little homesick in the fall. I don't really know why, but I think it has to do with the light falling outside but the house always being bright and welcoming. Over the last few years, though, this feeling has shifted to springtime. Maybe it still has something to do with the light -- having more of it for longer reminds me of lazy time spent with friends on breaks from play practice on warm evenings, the end-of-the-year banquets, the energy that a small college campus takes on when the weather warms and the end of the semester is in sight. I can't quite put a finger on it, but if I think really hard, I can see that it might be tied to the strength of tradition.

There really aren't many springtime traditions that repeating can make you feel connected to all of the other times you did the same thing, which can leave a girl a little wanting. In the fall and winter there are holidays steeped in ritual, the summer doesn't have quite the same excitement when you actually have to show up to work every day so you don't notice so much, but spring is minimally ritualistic. Easter is a moving target in the calendar so sometimes it's really warm but sometimes it's still cold and dreary, and while my family certainly had Easter traditions of hidden baskets, new dresses, ham with sinful potatoes, and Peeps microwave battles, they just aren't as re-creatable as an adult with no children. I tried the first year I was married and ended up with 13 pounds of ham to feed 2 people, only to call home to find the rest of the fam branching out to fried chicken.

So the solution seems to be to create new traditions that make where you are feel like home.

I'm really looking forward to this holy week with what is becoming a new tradition that really does feel grounding. I went to chapel services at the National Cathedral on Good Friday 2 years ago on my way home from work, by myself, milling around like a tourist to find the chapel of Joseph of Arimathea. The room feels like a catacomb, with candles and what looks like body draped in white. The music is surreal -- chant-like but dynamic. The message doesn't matter -- it feels literally like being at the funeral of Christ. I left feeling forever changed, and went back the next year and had the same experience of total wonder, even though it was almost exactly the same as the year before.

I'm still a little homesick, even though the locus of my home has taken a drastic curve south, but it's almost time for a week's visit next month. In the meantime, I'm so glad to have a springtime ritual that is connected not to just to my own home, but to anyone who has come before and anyone who will come after. Very, very cool.

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