Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Preparations for Easter

Spring cleaning is happening all over the village this week -- partly because the rain stopped, but mostly because Easter is coming. Up and the down the road, houses have their windows thrown open, wash lines are filled with clean sheets and bedding blowing in the wind, and porch railings are lined with mattresses and pillows airing out. But the houses are not the only things undergoing spring cleaning. The graveyard is, too.

A family plot in the graveyard
Living across from the village cemetery may seem creepy to some, but I rather like it. (For one thing, it cuts down on the noise-level in front of the house.) I have been able to witness several funeral processions and graveside burial services from the yard. It is also a nice place to meander on a dreary day.

The last couple of days, the cemetery has been filled with families armed with hoes, spades, and twig-brooms cleaning up the plots. Each family has a fenced-in plot where loved ones are buried when they die. Often flowers are placed at the grave along with fruit and wine or vodka. This week any old flowers and fruit are being cleared away. Clean, fresh glasses of libations are placed beside the graves. The dead grasses and weeds and sticks that have collected there over the winter are taken out and piled in the front of the graveyard.

This evening the pile was set on fire. The blaze crackled and sparked as the fire consumed the brush. The sound of the fire caught my attention as I sat just inside the house beside the open front door with a book. I went to the doorway to watch the fire roar. Blaze-orange flames licked the air above the pile, as dark smoke rose. My first thought was, "Who has the marshmallows?!" Then I got a bit more pensive. I imagined the smoke carrying the prayers of those working in the graveyard up to heaven. Or maybe it symbolizes the purification of souls. Either way, I was captivated..... thinking and watching.

The celebration of Easter is centered around resurrection -- the rising smoke turned my thoughts to the ascent of Our Lord on Easter morning -- the purification of humanity. In preparation for the most important holiday for Christians around the world, spring cleaning is a must.

Both outward and inward.

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