First of, a very happy Easter to all of you! Christ the Lord is risen indeed! Last night I went to the vigil at Motherhouse which was beautiful and solemn. Motherhouse is built in a sort of semi-rectangular area–(not really a square but more like an odd many sides figure)–going up in levels like a hotel or something. The main “square” reminds me or an Italian villa insofar as you can see down into it from every level. We started at the bottom with the Easter fire burning in the middle, and then processed up, lighting our candles by degrees, fighting mostly in vain against the cross breeze which kept trying to put them out. Last night was cool and breezy, which was a surprising change from the last few days. I kept thinking about that one verse (okay, I mostly only know it from “The Passion of the Christ”): “why is tonight different from every other night?” I won’t give you a blow by blow of the vigil, but suffice it to say it was lovely. The Easter vigil is always a mixed bag for me: I spend half the time trying not to fall asleep and thinking, “nothing on EARTH has to be this long…” And the other half thinking, “wow, this is amazing. The great mystery of our faith! Wow!” My favorite part is when the priest lights the candle and says, “Christ today and tomorrow; the beginning and the end; the Alpha and the Omega.” That gets me every time.
Today, I went to Kalighat to work with the patients for a couple hours and have mass with the sisters there. The priest told us that walking home from mass last night he met a rickshaw driver who greeted him warmly with, “Happy Easter, Father!” And then proceeded to chat with him about the mystery or Christ’s death and resurrection at length, finally asking him, “have you met Christ? What does he look like?” Father preached on how we have to look like Christ- be Christ. That this is the true Easter celebration, being the face of Christ to those we meet.
After mass I went to meet friends for brunch (oh, the hardships of this life) at a place called Bikers Cafe, where they play ’80s Rock n roll, and I doubt any real biker would ever set foot inside. Anyway, I bought a milkshake and pancakes, because it’s Easter, and I’m operating on the St. Augustine principle of love God and do what you will. I have amended it slightly to love God and eat what you will, which is working out nicely as long as my metabolism doesn’t slow down (famous. Last. Words.)
Now, I’m trying vainly to pack and get ready to leave. Tonight is my last full night in Kolkata. Tomorrow I will say good bye to the sisters and patients at Kalighat and depart at 3 AM (classic India) for Rome. Ergo, I need to gather together my possessions, which seem to have grown in strength and numbers since my arrival, and begin the hideous process of cramming them all into a tiny backpack. Alternatively, I may buy a new one. I think the laws of physics are against me actually fitting everything into the one I brought.
I’ve received so much since I’ve got here, especially from the patients at Kalighat. Mostly, I’ve realized that by living in the U.S., and having the family I do, I’ve received so much. I have to use and enjoy what I’ve been given with a good spirit. I think it’s been the most rewarding Lent of my life so far. Blessed be God.
Wish I had something more exciting and pithy to say, but that’s really about it. I probably won’t be sending any emails for the next couple weeks while I’m on retreat, but I’ll be taking pictures when I reach Rome, and I’ll try to forward them to you soon. If not, I’ll see you all soon.
With love, in the joy of the Risen Lord (Alleluia!) from Kolkata,