Anchor: a person or thing that can be relied on for support, stability, or security; mainstay: Hope was his only anchor.
When we work to become the author of own family life, we take on the authority to provide our spouse and children and ourselves stability. An effective way to do this is through the use of rhythm. If you have small children, it takes time to build a family rhythm that encompasses the year. If you are homeschooling older children and also have younger children not ready for formal learning, the cycle of the year through the seasons and through your religious year becomes the number one tool you have for family unity, for family identity, for stability.
I know some of the United States still is seeing snow, but here in the Deep South, April can be such a beautiful month – birds chirping, nests and eggs, bunnies, daffodils and other flowering bulbs. Yet, in this month we remember some of the starkest and most horrible moments in humanity. Vicki Black, in the book “Welcome to the Church Year” writes that “During this week (Holy Week) we focus on the suffering and death of the innocent and vulnerable, the failure to stand by someone in need, and wrenching farewell conversations at a final meal with beloved friends. We also ponder moments of injustice, cruelty and arrogant “hardness of heart” – experiences that we know all too well in our own world.” Holy Week can bring up our own feelings of sorrow, anger, fear, regret, sadness and loneliness. It is such a polarity of darkness and light, goodness and love and evil. If we look, we find the ultimate overcoming of darkness with love to the entire world . Hopefully we carry on to bring peace to all!
I like this quote from Sarah Ban Breathnach’s “Mrs. Sharp’s Traditions”: “For more than fifteen hundred years, the feast of Easter, marking the resurrection of Jesus Christ, has been the focal point of springtime for Christians around the world. Yet the Easter season is not only a Christian story, but a promise of renewal for all.”
Passover is occurring now – for over three thousand years Jewish families have gathered around the world to commemorate the deliverance of the Israelites from slavery. Happy Passover, friends!
My month will be anchored by these festivals:
Wednesday, April 1st – Holy Wednesday – Tenebrae meaning “darkness” or “shadows” is usually offered on this day. It is beautiful and sad. The book of Lamentation is chanted, and candles are extinguished in the church until only a single candle, symbolizing Christ, remains in the darkness.
Thursday April 2nd – Maundy Thursday I often meditate on this day that this was the day Christ gave the commandment “to love one another”. The Mass in the Anglican church on this night is haunting. I usually (always?) end up sobbing in a back corner. How do we go out and love and serve people, how do we really love? The feet of the people in the congregation is washed by the priests, the altar is stripped and bare, the church is darkened and every thing of beauty is removed down to the linens. The extra bread and wine is carried to a space for the vigil in the night to come. Usually a vigil is held throughout the night to stay awake and we contemplate our own failings and yet how this is not the final chapter of God’s redeeming love for us.
A very light meal, perhaps of green foods is traditional for this day. “All Year Round” has a recipe for chervil soup.
Friday, April 3rd – Good Friday – In the book “Celebrating Irish Festivals”, the author mentions spring cleaning for the house and yard on this day, and also if you have chickens that lay eggs marking the eggs laid today with a cross and eating them on Easter Sunday! Ruth Marshall, the author, also goes on to say:
Most people went to church on Good Friday and silence was encourage between noon and 3 p.m., the time when Christ was upon the cross. In Celtic Christianity, Christ was believed to be King of the Elements and the elements were thought to respond to his death. The sky was expected to darken; and cold, wet weather was taken as a sign of nature’s mourning.
Hot cross buns are traditional for some Christians on this day, along with the trimming of an Easter Egg Tree. This is also a traditional day to plant potatoes and seeds. This is especially important for children who are old enough to realize the significance of this day and who feel it is “Bad Friday!” The transformation and new growth is symbolic and works deeply in the consciousness of children.
Saturday, April 4th – Holy Saturday A day of stillness and waiting, but also a day of practical projects in preparation for Easter Sunday. Making an Easter bread ring could be a wonderful project, or making egg shaped candles. We often have an Easter Vigil Mass which is so very beautiful – some Anglican churches also hold this on Saturday night or on sunrise on Easter morning. The Easter Vigil is the first celebration of Easter, and is among the most ancient of all liturgies. We light the new fire and the paschal candle, we celebrate baptisms and the renewal of baptismal vows and the Holy Eucharist.
Sunday, April 5th – Easter
And we will be celebrating Easter Week and Eastertide! Easter lasts for fifty days, from Easter Day through the Day of Pentecost! The bonds of sin and death are broken!
Both the Holocaust and genocide in general is remembered this month with Holocaust Remembrance Day on Thursday, April 16th and Genocide Remembrance Day on April 24th. Our church is currently reading the biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a light in the Holocaust.
My religious denomination celebrates many wonderful Saints and Holy Men and Holy Women this month. One of my favorites is Saint Tikhon on April 7th.
There are also many secular things to celebrate from the signing of the American Civil Rights Act to Earth Day to William Shakespeare’s birthday. Arbor Day is April 22nd, a wonderful day to give some love to the beautiful trees. (It is also Earth Day).
Ideas for Celebration:
- So many crafts with Eastertide and spring themes!
- Spring foods – dandelion greens, fiddlehead ferns, lighter spring fare
- Observe nature – many of our birds are out and about building nests, and we have found many snails, lizards and turtles. Snakes are out again.
- Get out and hike
- Spruce up the yard and think of ways to celebrate the wind – windchimes, yard pinwheels can be so fun!
- Plant seeds if you can in your area – down here we can plant tomatoes, peppers and eggplants the second week in April! Lovely flower seeds include candytuft, cornflower, nasturiums, marigolds, love in a mist.
- Storytelling – there are several lovely stories of the Easter Hare in the book “Festivals, Families and Food” by Diana Carey and Judy Large
- Music is a glorious part of this month – in our family, we have Easter hymns for fifty days! So much music to sing!
- Depending upon where you live, kite flying may be a good option for this month.
The Domestic Life:
- Spring Cleaning
- Getting rid of all kinds of things to go into spring and summer lighter and brighter than ever
- This can be a harder time of year for homeschoolers…the end of the school year is coming, but has not yet arrived. The children (and the teacher) may have spring fever! This is always a good time of year to sit down and take stock as to what you have left to accomplish in the school year.
- Planning for next year’s school – it is not too early to order supplies, plan block rotations, and get to work on plans for specific blocks. If you plan now, it saves you so much trouble and anxiety during the school year. Please do get started!