(First off, please don’t take that literally.)
Spring in İstanbul has meant fresh fruit and big thunderstorms and bringing the sunglasses but leaving the coat. It’s meant 11,650,000 tulips in 104 breathtaking varieties (yes, really) bursting open right on schedule for the annual International Tulip Festival. It’s also meant spending my first (and hopefully last) solo Holy Week and Easter. Celebrations really are meant to be shared!
I found ways to incorporate a little of the sacred into my day-to-day in the weeks leading up to Easter, but I knew I’d have to give most of my traditions a miss this year (including church, unfortunately–this girl works Sundays.) There was one thing I couldn’t stomach going without, though, especially since I’m as close to Jerusalem as I’ve ever been or may ever get: the Passover Seder.
Now, it was toward the end of the last Passover meal he shared with his disciples that Jesus broke bread and poured wine and spoke of the unprecedented sacrifice he would shortly be making. When a family reaches this point in the Seder service, they do the same, essentially “taking communion” together just as Jesus did with his disciples that night in the upper room, when he charged them to “do this often in remembrance of me.” Could I take communion on my own, I wondered? I could prepare the symbolic dishes, light the candles and read through the liturgy just as I would if I had company, but is it legitimate to take communion, without the community?
The answer I received from a countless throng of Yahoo! Answers contributors was a resounding “If you’re ‘taking communion’ on your own, just call it what it is–drinking a bottle of wine alone. Admit you have a problem. Wino.” I did it anyway.
A little diptych as evidence.
I had to get creative with the Turkish ingredients I had available–no guarantees that this Seder was kosher. That’s a purloined United Airlines blanket functioning as a tablecloth. And once again this year, Elijah the forerunner of Christ remained noticeably absent from the place I’d set for him. But despite feeling a little lonely without loved ones to share with, bustling around preparing charoseth to the accompaniment of the Prince of Egypt soundtrack (just like always) and taking my time over the Seder just as I would with friends and family really made my little apartment feel like home–and when Easter came, my heart was ready for it.
I’ll leave you with this:
“The Seder of Passover is now complete, even as our salvation and redemption are complete. Just as we were privileged to celebrate it this year, so may we be privileged to do so in the future. O Pure One, Who dwells on high, restore Thy numberless congregation; speedily lead the shoots of the garden Thou hast planted, redeemed, joyfully to Zion.
NEXT YEAR IN JERUSALEM!”
(Tulip pictures forthcoming.)