Easter eggs and pancakes

I’ve been to mass twice in my life. Once was in middle school. I was super excited about the font and over-blessed myself, and then was slightly bummed when I couldn’t take communion. I didn’t understand all the rituals, and the monotone priest/congregation recitations left me trying to find the most exciting passages in Song of Solomon to pass the time.

Last Sunday, after a homemade breakfast of healthy chocolate/banana pancakes lovingly thrown together by my dear friend Amy,

When Amy said she had maple syrup, I got super excited. Amy's Canadian, so I expected Canadian maple syrup from Canadian trees grown in Canada. Her Costco version was just fine, though.

I celebrated Easter by attending mass for the second time in my life. It was a small church, and the two of us were the only Westerners.

Everyone in attendance could've sprawled out on their own pew, and there still would've been room.

The rituals were similar: singing, recitations, stand up, sit down, kneel, pray.

I was just as confused during the Chinese mass as I was in the English one, though not nearly as bored.

There are Taiwanese traditions in this Catholic church, such as this altar where people can light incense and pray for deceased relatives. (Amy, correct me if that's not actually what it is, please.)

Amy would quietly turn to me and explain what we were doing. I finally whispered, “Don’t worry about me. Enjoy the service.”

When I found out there were pictures in the hymnal, I was set. How can a person be bored when there are pictures in the books?

I meant it. She had nothing to worry about; I was enjoying taking it all in.

I read the English Bible. Amy read the Chinese Bible. Amy is amazing.

It wasn’t so much a religious experience for me as it was a cultural experience. An Indiana-born, Texas-raised non-denominational Christian visiting a Catholic church, led in Mandarin by a Filipino priest, in the middle of Hsinchu, Taiwan, a predominantly Buddhist country.

"Hosanna" means praise or pray. I think it's fascinating that "san" in Mandarin means three, an important number in the Christian religion.

There are times in my life when I realize just how intensely different my path is from most people I know. This was one of them.

I want to buy this hymnal, if only for the drawings.

No matter the religion, being surrounded by people of steadfast faith invigorates me. When I visited Longshan Temple in Taipei, it was during a daily ceremony in which people chant, light candles and incense, and pray. Seven years ago in the Dominican Republic, while at a friend’s house for dinner, I heard a hymn being sung in Spanish. I explored the run-down community until I found a small gathering of worshipers passionately singing and dancing. While the people at Longshan kept quietly to themselves, the people in Santo Domingo greeted me with big smiles and encouraged me to join them. Two very different experiences, both of which made my faith blossom.

This is what a Bible written in Mandarin looks like. This is Acts. Or First Corinthians. For all I know, it's the appendix.

On Sunday the priest walked down the aisle, dipping a long-stemmed serving spoon into holy water and flinging the droplets on the parishioners. When I felt the drops land on my face and arms, I looked at Amy. “I’ve been blessed!”

Christian enough to be blessed with a holy water shower, but not enough for communion. That's okay. I have my own wine at home.

After mass, we ate a light lunch with other members of the church,

The pancake-looking thing is delicious, but I don't know what it's called. You'd think eating it with chopsticks would make me look less barbaric, but I proved that theory wrong.

then looked around the grounds.

Blink and you'll miss it.

The weather, always humid, was warming up, and my black tights, jean skirt and heels (psh, flats with a lift) were beginning to make me uncomfortable, so Amy and I walked back to her apartment.

Hsinchu: always under construction, even on Easter Sunday.

It was a quiet and simple Easter, but I did receive something I didn’t expect:

Easter eggs! I didn't take more than one. Had they been full of jellybeans, I would've stolen them from small children.

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