An Easter She Would Never Forget

Natasha Richart

Set to Appear in the April 2021 Edition

 

She was standing in a beautiful church in Jerusalem. A patriarch had emerged from the Holy
Sepulchre, holding a torch bright with flame. The flame was pasted from hand to hand, each
person lighting the candle they had brought. The flame was coming towards Mariam. She
reached out to touch it …

“Wake up Mariam! It’s Easter!”

Mariam sleepily opened her eyes. Her last memory had been falling asleep five hours ago.
Her beautiful Pascha dress was laid out on the floor of her room. She looked out her window.
Empty blackness, but for a spot of light in the distance, where their church was. It rose
magnificently, up into the sky, its windows glowing with light.

After her parents left the room, Mariam slipped into her Easter dress. She looked like a
snowflake, in her lacey, white dress with a milky white bow in her golden hair. She had been
waiting for this night since Christmas, and she wanted to look her best.

After all the fasting, and praying, this was not just an ordinary Sunday. This was Easter. It would
not be so special without all of the preparations. Even if you fasted for seven weeks, and went
to church at midnight on a random Sunday morning. No. It wasn’t like that. Mariam felt sorry
for all the people in the world that thought that Easter was just a day when you eat chocolate
and go to church. She even knew someone that thought Easter was boring!

Easter was most definitely not boring. There was the fasting, the reading of the 12 Passion
Gospels on Holy Thursday, and, of course, this night. Or morning. Mariam always got them
mixed up. It was dark like night, but it really was morning. In Jerusalem, there was also the Holy
Fire. Mariam had never touched or seen the Holy Fire. Oh, how she wanted to at least see the
Holy Fire. Sadly, it was an ocean away in Jerusalem, where Mariam would probably never go in
her life. A fire that didn’t burn you! That was truly a miracle of God.

Once in the car, Mariam felt a shiver run through her. The feeling of being awake when the rest
of the country was asleep excited her. Soon the outline of the church came into view.

Once the car had stopped, Mariam popped out. Easter was her favorite holiday, and she
couldn’t wait to fully experience it.

The church was dark. The three domes rose up into the sky, seeming to touch the very clouds.
Quiet chanting filtered out of the windows. Mariam practically bounded to the door. This was
the moment she had been waiting for. The moment when she would open the door to the
church, and let Pascha truly seep in. After so many weeks of waiting, praying, fasting, all for this
moment. Mariam took a deep breath, and opened the door.

The huge room was dark, but Mariam heard the faint rustling of pages, and the faint murmur of
people, and knew that there were people there. Mariam caught a glimpse of the outline of her

friend Katherine, standing with her parents and her brother Michael. She went to go and stand
with them. The choir started chanting the Canon. Mariam stood there, perfectly still, listening.
She stood there, till her parents told her it was time for the procession. She put on her coat,
took a candle, and marched outside.

The cold wind blew against her face, and almost blew her candle out. She covered the candle
with her hand. That kept her hand warm. The choir chanted softly, and the priests held up
icons. It took a long time to march around the huge church 3 times, but Mariam managed it.

Inside the church again, Mariam was almost blinded by the light. The whole church was light
up. There were white flowers everywhere. She took her place by Katherine once more.

After a while, Katherine nudged her, and pointed toward a candle stand.

“That is the Holy Fire!” whispered Katherine.

Mariam almost fell over. The Holy Fire! The fire that she thought she would never see in her
life!

Out of all the things that Mariam had been counting on for this Easter, the Holy Fire had not
been one of them. Then again, what little girl, an ocean away from Jerusalem, would expect a
miracle fire for Easter?

Mariam was lost in thought. The Holy Fire! A miracle from God, right in her own church. She
wanted to badly to touch it, but she couldn’t. Just then, Katherine turned back around.

“All the candles are lit with the Holy Fire,” whispered Katherine.

Mariam looked around. There was a candle stand near her. Mariam took a few steps forward.
Now she only a few inches away from the miraculous fire. Her hand started to slide forward.
She only felt a slight warmth. Her hand got closer and closer till is was right above the flame. On
a normal flame, this would be the point where the heat got so great, that it would feel like your
hand would set on fire. However, this was no normal flame. This was created by the hand of
God!

Mariam took a deep breath, and shoved her whole hand into the flame. She didn’t feel
anything. She could only see the flame parting as her hand went deeper. As Mariam turned
around, she could see her parents smiling at her. Katherine was beaming, and little Michael was
looking at her like she was a ghost. The miracle made her realize that with God, truly anything
was possible.

As Mariam stepped back into her place, she suddenly realized how tired she was. She must
have shown it, because her mom tapped her lightly on the shoulder, and when Mariam turned

around, her Mom motioned toward the back room, where mattresses were spread on the floor
for sleepy children.

Mariam wanted to stay up for the whole service, but she knew that she wouldn’t be able to.
She fell asleep with thoughts of the Holy Fire still in her head.

It felt like only a minute later when Mariam woke up to her mom shaking her.

“It’s time for communion,” she said in a hushed whisper.

Mariam couldn’t wait. The feeling of receiving Holy Communion on Easter was a special feeling.
She hurried into line.

After communion, the choir started singing one of her favorite songs; “Christ has risen from the
dead, trampling down death by death…” She joined in, singing softly. She was filled with
content. Seeing and touching the Holy Fire had been a life changer. This was an Easter that she
would never forget.

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