No, Really, I DO Know When Easter Is!

I grew up steeped in the Greek Orthodox tradition, both the religion and the culture.  So  I spent a lot of time trying to explain to my friends why, most years, “my” Easter was not the same day as theirs.  (Before you ask, the Orthodox base it on the Jewish calendar, so it cannot be until after Passover.  Easy-peasy.  Though some years, when Passover was really late, you had to be careful to get your Easter supplies early or even the discounted goods would be gone.)

But there was a lot more to growing up Greek Orthodox, at least in my family and community, than just celebrating this holiday on a different Sunday.   It was the whole environment.  It was that I went to church (and took communion) not only every Sunday, but on various other holy days.  It was the story EVERY YEAR on the news with footage of us walking around the church with our candles at “our” Easter.  It was that, even after the Catholic Church gave up on Latin, our service was in Greek.  Mostly, was the commitment to family and church traditions that seemed so right to me until my friends began to question them.  Which began in junior high.

So, I took the opportunity my school offered to do an independent study class (their way of addressing that I was bored out of my skull), and researched the differences between the Eastern Orthodox Church and other religions.  I ended up focusing mainly on Catholicism, and the causes of the Great Schism of 1054.  (I know, I know, Geek Alert!)

And then I went to college.  The nearest Greek Orthodox Church was pretty far away, and I would have needed a car to get there.  There was a Russian Orthodox Church (the liturgy was still in Greek, though…loved that!) in a larger city nearby, but it required taking the Peter Pan bus, which was often outside my budget.  I tried the Anglican Church in town (my priest said it was okay), but really, what happened is I stopped going to church.  And I missed it.

After college, in graduate school, and at first, when I was working, I often could not get time off for the holidays – especially when Easter fell on a different day.   When I finally got to a point where I had more control over my schedule, I started looking for a church.  That was when I realized how lucky I had been growing up.  See, a church is not only about the religion, but about the community. And even after many years in New York, searching, I have yet to find a community that welcomes me.  There was the priest in Astoria who lectured me, right on the altar, about wearing lipstick when taking communion.  There was the small church in midtown, where I was stared at during the service and ignored during the coffee hour.  And a few other horror shows.

So  I gave up.  And yes, I feel guilty about it.  But more than that,  I feel like I’m missing out.  Every year, I say I will try again, and most years, I don’t.

Maybe next year.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Suzanne Demcisak
    Apr 08, 2012 @ 19:20:30

    I’ve left the church (long, boring story), and one of the things that was a relief was that I was no longer the one people ignored completely at coffee hour, while standing right next to me talking to my children. Even after I’d made a point of introducing myself. I suspect it had something to do with the fact that I wear my hair extremely short for a woman, to the point where people sometimes address me as “sir” if I’m wearing bulky clothing. You were very lucky to grow up in a church that was a community.


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