By Angie Nasrallah

April 2019
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Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
— Psalm 51:7

When Palm Weekend arrives, you know that Holy Week and Pascha are just around the corner.  Seven weeks of preparation have brought us to the Friday before Lazarus Saturday. But there is another type of preparation that must take place.  

Yard preparation.

About 10 years ago, we started hosting the annual Pascha Party.  The entire parish shows up for the celebration at our house. We go whole-hog, roasting an entire pig Cajun-style over a temporary pit dug in the yard.  When the hog is cooked, the revelers gather around with plates and smiles.

“Christ is Risen!” can be heard around the house as people greet each other during this feast of feasts.  Somehow, during the party, we manage to orchestrate 3 separate egg hunts for kiddos of all ages. Dozens of parishioners attend and enjoy each other’s company in the relaxed and festive setting.  This event has become an anticipated tradition.

But first… the yard must be put into shape!

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On this day, Lazarus Saturday, it is 49 degrees and drizzling.  

A vast acre of downed wood, weeds, overgrown ivy, and unruly shrubs awaits our attention.  Thankfully, all the boys have come to help. The yard has been neglected and now it must be reigned in.

Decks are scrubbed, the mulch bought and spread, the driveway is pressure washed.  It is a tiring chore, but I know that if it weren’t for the party, none of this would get done.  No body would care.

“So, it’s a good thing,” I tell myself as my fingers freeze around the rake handle.

This work reminds me of what we do in Lent.  We know that the Resurrection is coming and we want our souls and minds to be ready. So, we clean up, take out the trash and pull up the weeds in our hearts.  We forgive people who have wronged us and ask forgiveness of the ones we have wronged. Bad habits, like ivy, have grown rampant and convinced us that we are “all good.”  It’s a struggle. And, like the bad weather, despondency has infiltrated and fooled us into thinking we’ll never get it all done.

Thankfully, we’ve got a team of people working on this project.  And we’ve made some progress, although now at the eleventh hour.

Like every other year, this yard will be ready by Pascha.   I’ve learned that some years are better than others and it’s hard to know which way it will go until you get elbow deep in the weeds.

One thing is certain.  After a year, we’ll have this whole clean-up business to do again next April.  We’ll complain and the weather will be nasty. Still, we enjoy the results.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
— Psalm 51:10