“Papa, why is this night different from all the other nights?” Williams confident lisp echo’s hundreds of years of children asking the same. The table quiets to hear the answer, the only sound is the Matzoh being broken into millions of crumbs by tiny, eager fingers.
“Because,” Eddie responds, “tonight we look back on our past, while on all other nights we look to our future in Christ. Tonight we look back to our slavery, all other nights we look to our eternity with Christ. Tonight we look back on Christ’s crucifixion, all other nights we look to His resurrection…”
Tonight we look back..
My nerves begin to settle down, I can’t believe I’m nervous. The evening should have been the easiest meal to prepare, I had helped to prepare it too many times to count. Yet, throughout the whole day my stomach twisted and jumped about. My mind racing through the details over and over again. This has to be perfect. I had participated in Passover plenty of times, but hosting it? With two families who had never done it before?
You’re not crazy, I told myself as I ran to the second grocery store in town hoping to find at least one box of Matzoh. It wouldn’t have surprised me if I didn’t, in a small town like this what are the chances. I had an extra hour leeway to make it if need be. A halo glowed about the flat yellow box stacked beneath boxes of Triskets on the high, dusty shelf in the back of the store.
‘It won’t be perfect because you’re not perfect’ God reminds me as I grab the only two boxes and a bottle of wine. ‘But it will be beautiful because I have made you beautiful.’
Carrie and I chat and chop. The steam from the mug of hot tea curls up to add it’s fragrance to all the others. The familiar aroma of the cinnamon and honey hits me hard.
“I love this salad, but for whatever reason it only tastes good at Passover.”
The boys taste and grant their approval of the sweet nuts and apples. “Great job, it works!” Duncans matter-of-fact-these-are-the-words-you-need-to-hear tone makes me grin. I try not to laugh at him.
The thrill of seeing such a well known dinner through the eyes of the families observing it all for the first time is reassuring. I feel a bit more confident. Every little detail reminding me of stories of this Passover or that one, of the little traditions tied into each item.
‘Slow gurgle of grace’, Ann Voskamp’s words roll over and over in my mind as the eggs begin to boil and the linens are placed on the table.
Carrie corrects Williams misplaced silverware, I try to explain why the knife and spoon lay together. Everything is made up of tradition.
Then I realized I had totally spaced on grabbing candles. “Okay boys, boot’s on, we’re going to the store.” They chatter the whole way, jumping in and out of puddles, Duncan alternating between trying to run fast and trying to keep his pants on.
‘It won’t be perfect because you’re not perfect’ God reminds me ‘But it will be beautiful because I have made you beautiful.’
On the way back I inform them of the questions they’ll ask, but I have no answer to the question of why. It’s too big to boil down to four+six understanding. “Because” I scramble for understanding myself, “when you ask the questions you are helping all of us to understand God’s love for us.” The cheerful okay confirms that was all they needed to know.
They shout for joy to see how huge the Matzoh are, I stack the squares and fold three into the lace napkin. William listens while I explain. “Spirit” bottom Matzoh gets covered, “Son” so does the second, “and…? what comes next?” “GOSPEL!” “Close, but this is the Trinity.” “Father!” He grins.
The knots in my stomach loosen as peace floods through me. It doesn’t matter if this Passover is perfect, as long as the kids are listening I remind myself.
“Blessed are you, Oh Lord our God, King of the universe” Carrie’s gentle voice resounds through the room as her fingers hover over the candles, each one slowly coming to life.
Her words echo the mothers before her, her fingers retracing the age old pattern. “Who has chosen us from the beginning of time, exalting us by making us holy through the blood of the Lamb of Christ.”
The usually wiggly bodies observe in reverent silence, their eyes wide like so many little’s before them. “In love You have given us, O Lord our God, Sabbaths for rest, holidays for joy, festivals for gladness… and the Son for our redemption” She lights the last candle and my heart leaps with joy.
This is what the crucifixion was for, so that I might sit at the table with family who makes me better. He died so that I can live every day with sweet traditions and remembered stories. So that I can chop apples and jump in rain puddles.
He died so that I can laugh as the kids make faces over the horseradish and bitter herbs.
He died so that I can stumble through hymns acapella, notes flying out the window.
He died so that I can watch Fiona’s silly, stubborn face’s and hear Flora’s long winded stories.
He died so that I can admire the woman in my life as they patiently train the children.
He died so I can sit at a table with history oozing from everything. As we mourn and rejoice over simple tasks liking breaking bread.
He died so that every prayer, every plea to the Holy Spirit, every voice raised in thanksgiving, every giggle and cry and whisper, every clear ‘amen’ is not only heard but felt as one body.
He died so that I can live.