“Happy to you!” Ten characters, three words, one simple sentence.
Happy to you.
That’s John’s first spoken sentence, his first attempt at stringing together more than random sounds and “repeat after me” words, but actually him putting real words together to form a thought; his thought. And when you consider all the combinations of words that he has been storing up in his mind over the past 18 months as we have been speaking to him, and as he has been listening to us talk to each other, the first three that he strung together are: “Happy to you.” Imagine that. Thank God.
I began to think of the millions of words and sentences that he will speak in the course of his lifetime, and yet, none may be more important than these: “Happy to you!” To see his face and his bright blue eyes light up when he rambles around the room, tottering and tipping with glee, stopping at every person , including our dog, while saying “Happy to you!” is priceless. Moments like these are the ones parents hold on to, and place deep within the recesses of their memory banks, for in the most profound and spiritually satisfying way, it makes all of those late night feedings, all of those ripe, odoriferous poopy diaper changes, and the never-ending pile of milk stained dirty laundry worth it. John’s spirit is being shaped, and he is beginning to soar on wings like eagles.
Happy to you… is what John wants us to know today, and indeed in this season of holy pilgrimage through Lent to Pascha, that great feast of happiness beyond belief, happy is what we are. At this mid-way point in our Lenten journey – celebrated this past weekend with the remembrance of the Holy Precious Cross – John reminds us that the happiness that is ours, and our ability to wish “happy” to anyone, is because of that one cross, on that one hill, and because of that one empty tomb two thousand years ago. Thank God, that even at this tender early age of his life, the reality of the happiness John experiences each day at home, and each week in the Divine Liturgy with his Church, is more than a simple human emotion, more than a random giddy fleeting fever, but a deep burning and life changing spiritual reality. Happy to us, for Jesus is Lord, God and Savior of all mankind.
After the Divine Liturgy we processed outdoors reveling in the rare spring sunshine, and the “balmy” 40 degree temps, carrying high above us and before us the precious Cross all the while singing “Holy God! Holy Mighty! Holy Immortal! Have Mercy on Us!” I can only imagine what the neighbors were thinking while drinking their coffee and eating their buttered toast and watching us Orthodox sing and sway incense? 🙂
Upon entering the Church again, and in groups of two, three or in families, each of us comes before the Holy Cross planted in the center of the Church, and we fall prostrate, on hands and knees, head to the floor, three times, rising and prostrating: saying privately and quietly: “Lord Jesus Son of God have mercy on me a sinner…” and while this beautiful act of veneration was being offered to Christ, every sings:
“…Before Thy Cross, we bow down in worship O Master, and Thy Holy Resurrection…. Before Thy Cross…”
This is the happy, in the “happy to you”! Without the incarnation of God made man in human flesh, without His Divine and Human natures, without His willing and loving gift of his life and death, and without His glorious resurrection and triumph over death, there would be no “happy” to anyone, or for anyone. Sure there would always be the fickle and ever-changing human emotion called “happiness“, like in getting a “happy meal” from McDonald’s… but the hunger still exists. And without Christ will always exist. Even after the “happy” burger is downed, and french fries are chewed… the empty ache remains, for the hunger that God came to satisfy was the hunger in us for eternal life, for restoration of communion with the Trinity, for an answer to our enemy death…
Death where is your sting? Death where is your victory?
For in Christ Jesus it is swallowed up and defeated.
Happy to us.
Yes John, “Happy to you!” Our son, our gift.