Easter season is usually my best in terms of christian celebrations. For me Easter is the “it” of christianity. I love the tridium, starting with the Chrism mass usually held at the cathedral, the mass of last super, the good friday celebration and the vigil mass. I like to be in Lagos for Easter so that I can attend all these masses in St Dominic’s catholic church. Why St. Dominic’s? Oh I love the way the priests all dress up in their celebration habits, particularly on Good Friday when they wear the black hood atop their habits. This year I noticed that they added a stripe of red on the black. They looked quite colourful. Oh and the songs, the choir always sing beautifully. But the masses usually always are long, much longer than the Sunday masses. Here then stems my anxiety…. what to do with Ziim, will she sit, add quietly, through the long celebrations. When she was younger and smaller, I could easily carry and rock her at the sign of any discomfort from her, but now….. Anyways, I decided to take her, even to the vigil mass. Last year I did not attend the vigil mass because I was not sure she would cope.
My first surprise (pleasant one did I add) was at the Chrism mass at the Holy Cross cathedral. We arrived just as the priests were going in, it is usually a beautiful site to behold, over a hundred priests, royally dressed, with the choir singing “priestly people, holy people..” often gives a feeling of heaven. Ask me how I got to know how heaven feels. The church wardens have “crossed” the entrance to the church, meaning no one is allowed to go inside the church. Ordinarily, arriving at the time we did, one is not even sure of getting a seat outside the church under any of the canopies much less inside the church. But I decided to take a chance, I had a VIP, no one is going to stop me but me. My chance came when I saw a woman walk to the enrance and she was let in, I quckly pushed Ziim to the door. Are you with her? A man asked me. I said nothing but concentrated on trying to lift the push chair up the steps, while at the same time wondering why there should not be a ramp for people on wheel chair. Then it occoured to me that there may not be anyone on wheel chair or with any form of disability here. After all, this is the church founded by our Lord Himself! Every disability must have been healed. I guess we were away on the last day of the healing. Ok. that explains the strange looks that were cast our way. I have said no one but me is stopping me, so I lifted our chair up the steps, a young man looking at us askance lent a hand. I think the church warden at the door was too shocked at seeing an angel on a push chair that he removed the crossing at the door and let us in. I could still feel his stare on my back as we walked in right in front of the alter. Hm. This is me inside the cathedral on Holy Thursday!!!! Miracle. In my over one decade in Lagos, I have not achieved this feat no matter how I tried!! I silently thanked God for Ziim for I know that she it is that made this possible. Now standing here, more like in the middle of the sea, every seat on the pew occupied, wondering what to do, a church warden appeared; madam, you need to sit down. Don’t I know that (said inwardly that is) ok, let’s get a chair for you, you may not sit here, the papal medalists are sitting on the front pews. He gets a white chair, we walk to a space behind the papal medalists. Here should be fine. Sure I said, I can see the alter very well, no need seeing the mass on the monitor.
I sat down, relaxed and the mass went on. Ziim was at her best, through out the over four hours the mass lasted. She only attracted attention by her refusing to stop “singing” even when the choir stoped. The mass was over about 1.15p.m, we raced home and I quickly made her a meal of plantain with fish and vegetables. After lunch, we rested, my mind was on the evening celebration, the last supper, should we go? will she cope? The crowd will be much, shall we get a seat? all these were in mind, trying to stop me, I drifted off to sleep. I do not know if Ziim slept but when I woke up, she was just lying beside me, eyes shinning, checked time, ha, 4.30p.m we need to hurry. I must go, nobdy or nothing but me is stopping me. We went, we got our regular seating position with little or no effort. Ziim and I enjoyed the mass, she was of good behaviour, we got home after 9 p.m. Friday was easier as the celebration started at 3 p.m, by 6p.m it was over inspite of the crowd for communion and veneration of the cross. Trust the Dominicans, a lot of them came to help out making the exercise short and brisk . Again I was glad we went, not allowing fear of how Ziim would react stop me.
The Easter vigil mass is a celebration I always look forward to. The candle light procession, renewal of the baptismal vows, the sprinkliing of water with the song “I saw water flowing…” the bell chiming to the sound of Alleluya, the seven readings, the beautiful decoration of the church, did I mention the colourful dressing of the knights of the alter and the priests.
It surprises me that though this is the same thing done yearly, it always holds new meanings to me every year, thus I never like to miss it. I did not go last year because I let myself not go, I was worried about Ziim, how she would make out. She used to react with uncontrolable cry to loud noise, but she seems to be getting over that. Vigil mass was to start at 9p.m, and usually lasts past 12mid night. Ziim is supposed to be in bed about 8pm. So what to do? Aunty Daf came visiting; are you going for the mid night mass? Yes of course. And what are you doing with Zimuzo? I’ll go with her. Really, that I think will be too much for her, why not go in the morning? It is not the same, but I believe Ziim will cope. Well she probably will be sleeping most of the time, that means you’ll have to carry her, big load that is. That is fine, I do not mind. But what if you do not get a seat, there will be lots of people and most people go quite early to get seats. See, she is trying to stop me by giving me good reasons. I am prepared to take my chance even if I have to carry Ziim all through the mass.
After lunch I tried to get Ziim to sleep but she would not, that made me a bit apprehensive. I had hoped she would sleep to help keep her awake at night. I tried, no luck. I let her be, we just played, but I told her that we shall go for vigil and implored her to be of good behaviour.
Mass was at 9.p.m, but we set out at 8.15p.m, I wanted to be there early so we could get our usual sitting positon and a good parking place. We got both! We enjoyed the mass. Ziim actually participated, she did not sleep, well not quite, I had to carry her during the sermon, more to change position for her and to put her in a better position to take a nap. Tell me, don’t many people sleep during sermons? I wonder why that is. But after the sermon I put her back on her chair and she joined in the singing and all.
By the time the mass ended past 1 a.m with the choir singing the parish anthem “nothing is impossible…..” Ziim was ready to sleep even on the pew, then I am sure so was everybody in the church I won’t tell you that she slept till 10 a.m, but she woke up in good spirit.
As I play back the events of the Easter weekend and how we enjoyed the celebration, I could not help but to note that I may not have participated in all the celebrations that make Easter Easter for me had I allowed my fears to stop me. Often times in life we allow our fears or people to stop us from doing things that we like/want/need to do. I found out that who actually stops me is me. The “fears”/ worries and people’s opinions always are there, but it is me who makes the decision of taking the action. Sometimes I use Ziim as excuse;
oh she may not cope oh I may not cope. But then, how will I know if I did not try, and who says next time will not be different if this time is not.
Is it just me? I am begining to think that
sometimes most times no one is actually stopping me from doing things, it may just be me. How about you, who is stopping you?