“Christ the Lord has Risen today, Alleluia!”
Every year must have a first something, and this is my first Easter away from home. My first Easter without an egg hunt. My first Easter, in almost five years, without lamb. Lamb, mashed potatoes, and asparagus. The lamb is rubbed with olive oil, salt, pepper, and rosemary before being grilled. The grilling leaves the skin almost burnt and oh, so good. The mashed potatoes require a KitchenAid. The boiled spuds are placed reverently into the silver mixing bowl and a stick of butter is added while the blade whirls around, making fluffy, white mountains. Then milk, thick and creamy, is poured in, until the whole bowl is full of thick, creamy, smooth, satiny potatoes that melt in your mouth. Can you tell that the best spot to be on Easter day is the kitchen? The whole family hangs around, hovering over the chief, who, it so happens, is my father. Taste-tester is the most treasured position, and the favored one must endure, or bask in, the jealous, coveting stares of the unlucky majority.
But, as I said, this year I didn’t get to share in the Easter feast. I biked over to the closest church here instead. What a site I must have been, decked out in my Easter finest, my cream rain coat keeping the wind off. Peddling along on my bright blue bicycle. Most Sundays I go to church with friends, not only because of the enjoyable fellowship, but also for the much more practical reason that I do not own a car. Naturally, as my friends were spending time with their families this Easter, I had to celebrate with a closer church. During the service, as the preacher preached of joy, a man came out a painted a picture. There isn’t really a word to describe what it was like, not a church flavored word anyway. Cool, interesting, neat-o. These make it sound like entertainment only, but I really do think it added something deeper to the service, I just can’t place my finger on what. Maybe it was a sense of awe, a taste of wonder. I have heard of people using art during church to get a point across, but this was the first time I had ever seen anything like it. I guess I lost something old and gained something new this Easter.
Have I shown you this picture already? It’s of the church grave in Japan. It’s rather interesting actually, not something you’d ever really think of here in America. But in Japan people place their ashes in a family shrine, or grave. Every New Years, and at other times during the year too, depending on the depth of belief, families across Japan go and pray to their ancestors at these graves. Naturally, if you’re a Christian, the idea of your family members praying to you is slightly disturbing (If you’re a Christian and this idea is not disturbing I don’t know what to make of you). To circumvent this unholy problem, the church in Hikari has it’s own tomb where its members can put their ashes after they die, safe in the knowledge that they are not going to be part of some later idolatry. It is still strange to think how different life for a Japanese Christian can be. Can you imagine your mother disowning you for changing your beliefs? Can you imagine it having an impact on where you will be buried?