it was a charlie brown bright week
“Bright Week” is what we (Orthodox) call the week following Easter. But here in northern Indiana, the brightness was a bit slow in coming, and in fact did not really come until the end of the week so named. Easter day itself was cold and wintry, and in the days following we had a cosmic slurpie dump down upon all the timidly emerging, in-progress, spring-green, growing things.
Pascha was still wonderful, memorable, and profound as usual this year, and it was delightful to take Esme to her first late night / early morning Pascha service. She slept through the entire vigil and most of the liturgy in her car seat, beneath her colorful quilt, and awoke–as if on cue–in time for communion. Then on Easter day we had friends over and talked and ate all afternoon until the evening.
But a few days later, during the bright week throw-back-to-winter blitz, I found myself indoors with Esme. I decided was not worth bundling her up to go anywhere, and yet we probably both needed to get out of the house. Sometimes my mood and Esme’s mood melds into one and I can’t tell if I’m making her cranky or vice versa. But we were both kind of deflated that day, so I did something I only do rarely, and sat us both down in front of the television to take refuge in a dvd: A Charlie Brown Christmas. Even though I’ve been watching A Charlie Brown Christmas at least once a year since childhood, I’ve never realized all the layers of humor and meaning in the dialogue and plot. Charlie Brown confides to Linus that even though it’s Christmas, he feels depressed, and Linus says, “Charlie Brown, you’re the only person I know that can turn Christmas into a problem.” I can totally symptathize; I’m always making non-problem days and seasons into problems. But in any case, by the time it got to the final scene when Linus reads the scriptural account of Christ’s birth on the school auditorium stage, I was melting with love for this little film, and thanking the stars above for the miracle of its inclusion in the pop culture canon.
I felt that it was strange behavior to watch a Christmas cartoon during Bright Week, but with the snow outside, and the desire to counteract it with the cozy mood of Christmas, I tried not to overthink the anomaly. But then it turned out to be unexpectedly profound, because it reminded me of the theological connection between the feast days, which usually gets lost for me because of the long gaps between each, and the change of seasons, and life events that happen in between. The Nativity icon depicts Christ being born in a cave to symbolize a tomb; he was born to die. Hearing Linus read the Christmas account right after Pascha made it all connect in my heart and mind for once, and I actually shed a few tears.
“Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tomb bestowing life.”