How do you welcome strangers when you aren’t home?
I have been away, visiting my brother and his amazing family, and so I haven’t posted in a while. However, I have a short little remembrance from when my children were little. We lived in Texas in the 1990’s, and often had only one car. We had made new friends, a husband and wife, who were Orthodox, and they were coming to the house. But an emergency arose, and my husband needed to be someplace. I drove him, so I could have the car. But, the children would be home alone when our friends arrived. I wasn’t sure how the children would recognize them. They couldn’t really reach the peep hole in the door.
I made my cross, prayed, and smiled.
I called the children into a huddle, gave them instructions, took off my apron, put on some shoes, and drove.
My friend told the story to my brother, who reminded me of it. My children were about nine, eight, and four. Our friends arrived and saw no car, but they rang the bell, and heard a muffled sound, in response.
“I can’t hear you!” the husband said.
There was a murmured consultation, and then the same response, a little louder, but not clear.
“I’m sorry, I still can’t hear you,” the husband said.
There was a longer consultation, and the deadbolt was turned. The door opened, but the chain stayed on. Three mouths appeared at the door. In unison, the children called out, “Christ is Risen!”
It was in the Paschal season. In the Orthodox Church, we prepare for great feasts by abstaining from meat and dairy, and then we celebrate the feast for a long time after. And so we greet each other for the forty days of Pascha (Easter) with “Christ is Risen!” to which one replies “Truly He is Risen,” or “Indeed He is Risen,” depending on your parish’s preferred translation.
And so our friends called out, also in unison, “Indeed He is Risen!” The children consulted again, and closed the door, unchained it, opened it, and welcomed the guests into the house, into our lives, and practically speaking, into the family. That happens, especially in Texas. “If you don’t have family in Texas when you arrive,” my brother-in-law had explained when we moved, “you create family.”
“Christ is Risen!” It is a greeting to bring joy, to proclaim victory over death, and to draw like minded people closer together.