baby’s first holy week

Sweet boy, here we are. In the holiest of weeks.

It all started on Palm Sunday. You solemnly gumming the long green palm in your father’s hands. Your brothers waving their palms wildly around the air (bonus points for whacking a sibling in the eye). Me watching all of you, half wondering why we bother to bring you to church, half realizing that the wonder of Holy Week is to see it through a child’s eyes.

We will take you three boys to church three times this week: Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday. I will prepare for each outing as I prepare for nearly everything as a mom of littles: with low expectations and plenty of snacks. As always, Holy Week will be nothing like what I envision and exactly what I need.

But here is a small secret I will share with you and only you. (Because you are new and mute and thus good at keeping secrets.)

You already know what this week is about. 

. . .

On Holy Thursday we wash feet. You know about this, too.

You know the warm water into which you stretch your wriggling limbs, your eyes darting to bathtub tiles as if you remember this sensation from long-ago, the wet dark warmth of womb. You are slippery in my arms holding you fast over the awkward tub ledge, laughing as your feet dance through clouds of bubbles.

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This holy week, we will slip off shoes and tug off socks and pour warm water over each other’s feet. There is so much of God in this simple truth of washing. How we serve one another in the most basic and bodily ways. How we help to transform dirty into clean. How we bend low to hold what is holy.

Remember this truth you already know. Keep teaching me.

. . .

On Holy Thursday we break bread. You know about this, too.

You know how to lunge for a crust of whatever we’re eating, chasing crumbs around your highchair tray with pudgy fingers. You join us at table now and open your mouth wide for a share of our food. And when you corner a big-enough piece and carefully connect hand to mouth with concentration, satisfaction stretches across your plumpest cheeks.

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This holy week, we will cup our hands to receive the One who came to be bread. There is so much of God in this simple truth of feeding. How we feed the least among us first. How we break ourselves open to become love for each other. How nourished we can be by the smallest taste of the divine.

Remember this truth you already know. Keep teaching me.

 . . .

On Good Friday we kiss what we love. You know about this, too. You are besieged by brotherly affection: kisses smacked on the top of your soft head, arms wrapped fierce around your tender neck, small hands tugging your toes. You erupt in grins when I cuddle your chin and you nuzzle your nose into my shoulder when I kiss you goodnight.

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This holy week, we will wait in line to bend down and venerate a stark wooden cross. There is so much of God in this simple truth of loving. How we lift up what the world overlooks. How we let what is soft meet what is hard. How we give daily thanks for life, even its sacrifices.

Remember this truth you already know. Keep teaching me.

. . .

On Holy Saturday we wait. You know about this, too.

You are already resigned to the fate of third children, waiting while someone else’s need is greater or screams are louder. Your wide eyes soak up your surroundings while you wait your turn for attention, quietly filing away whatever you glean from the chaos around you.

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There is so much of God in this simple truth of waiting. How we must keep faith through long stretches for a dream to grow. How hope can be the heaviest weight to bear. How love wins despite evidence to the contrary.

Remember this truth you already know. Keep teaching me.

. . .

On Holy Saturday we tell stories. You know this, too. You grab clunky board books at naptime as I whisper well-worn words in your ear. You bat the pages back and forth, and a knowing smile curls across your cheeks as we rock to the rhythm of rhymes I memorized ages ago.

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There is so much of God in this simple truth of telling stories. How stories make us who we are. How the divine mystery speaks through holy word. How sharing long-ago tales makes them real again before our eyes.

Remember this truth you already know. Keep teaching me.

. . .

On Easter Sunday we sing and we feast. You know about this, too.

You clap your hands for lullabies and Old McDonald, each new verse like an Alleluia of joy. You gulp down sweet peaches and smooth pears, devour messy scrambled eggs and slimy avocado chunks. You delight in music and meals, whatever sweetness is offered to fill you up.

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There is so much of God in this simple truth of singing and feasting. How celebration sets all five senses on fire with joy. How we are an Easter people, hard stones of our hearts rolled away to find an empty tomb echoing promise. How we cannot keep from singing.

Remember this truth you already know. Keep teaching me.

. . .

This is a hard and holy week. This is a hard and holy life.

What a gift to share it again, anew, with you.

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28 Comments

  1. jenni ho-huan on 1 April 2015 at 8:27 am

    My my, you are making me want to have a baby in my arms all over! thank you for this – seeing it through their eyes of wonder! may the snacks last and the smiles never fade this week mom! You are welcome to visit my reflections over at http://www.jennihh.blogspot.sg — it’s a more direct lectio of Jesus’ final days.

  2. Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde on 1 April 2015 at 8:47 am

    “I will prepare for each outing as I prepare for nearly everything as a mom of littles: with low expectations and plenty of snacks. As always, Holy Week will be nothing like what I envision and exactly what I need.”

    Laura, these last two blog entries of yours have really gotten me. This one makes me laugh, and yet, as I type, I just cry. I’m joyful. In awe. Experiencing a deep resonance in my heart, appreciating your contemplative stance in this hectic world.

    Thank you for your authentic and joyful witness to the world!

  3. Laurel Muff on 1 April 2015 at 9:31 am

    You just made my Holy Week. Thank you.

  4. Kateri on 1 April 2015 at 10:05 am

    Beautiful Laura, thank you! This is our third little one’s first Holy Week too, on top of which, she will be baptized at the Vigil…which has my incredible excitement and joy equally matched by my nervousness at a 6 month old and two pre-schoolers making it through the longest Mass of the year! This was a helpful reminder. Thank you!

  5. Nancy on 1 April 2015 at 10:41 am

    i needed this more than you know. Thank you.

  6. caramac54 on 1 April 2015 at 9:52 pm

    “This is a hard and holy week. This is a hard and holy life.” Amen, sister. And how old is your son? Are ours close to the same age? (7 mo)

  7. Monica Hartman on 28 March 2018 at 6:57 am

    Oh, this is beautiful! (And your baby is delightful…I can’t wait until I’m blessed with another little one!) You’ve inspired me to pick up some new Holy Week traditions- I think we’ll bake bread and wash feet and have lots of story time on Saturday. Thank you!

  8. Kaitlin on 28 March 2018 at 7:28 am

    I love your writing Laura! Entering the giveaway for a friend dealing with loss.

  9. Kristin on 28 March 2018 at 7:37 am

    These are some truly insightful thoughts and inspiring ideas! The Easter Vigil is my favorite because it reminds me of my own homecoming into the church, but it’s not the easiest one to make as a young family. So I love these ideas to incorporate the spirit of the different days in an interactive, kid-friendly way!

  10. Cindi Tagg on 28 March 2018 at 7:54 am

    Your writing always moves me! After dealing with 3 miscarriages, I always end up with tears! This year, we are going to make some new traditions with our 3 children!

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