I suppose I shouldn’t attempt to add one more thing to my already packed days, but Lent is coming. It’s coming next Wednesday to be exact. Or if you’re Orthodox, Clean Monday is, well, next Monday. No offense to my Catholic friends, but the Orthodox are hardcore, much more so than the Catholics; they don’t take Monday and Tuesday to live it up. Lent starts on the Monday before Ash Wednesday, instead of the Ash Wednesday after Fat Tuesday. There is no Mardi Gras for the solemn Orthodox. You are supposed to begin cleansing yourself and looking toward the forty-odd days ahead. Great Lent.
I just learned that for the staunch Orthodox observer Lent involves a strict, almost vegan, fasting, just for a portion of the days though. Of course, giving up all of those animal products is indicative of Christ’s suffering and our willingness to follow him to the cross. More importantly, though, the Orthodox fast for Lent calls the follower to give up olive oil and wine. How is a Greek expected to cook anything decent without olive oil? And, is using corn or canola oil cheating? What about drinks? What do you serve to drink with dinner if you can’t have wine? I guess most of my answers can be found here, at the Orthodox Church of America’s website.
What cannot be found on their website are my own answers about my own spirituality. I have not been practicing any form of spiritual practice lately, and I haven’t been to church for two weeks. I feel like I don’t have time for God, which is not a good place to be in. I am writing this dissertation about spirituality, and I don’t have time for God? That doesn’t add up. So, my goal for Lent is to be more mindful of God, more mindful of my actions, and more mindful of others. I need to spend time contemplating God, God’s creation, and the ways God continually blesses me, even when I don’t take the time to notice.
What form will this increased mindfulness take? I am not sure. I might begin by picking up my prayer rope, which I haven’t used in a while. I might continue by re-memorizing (for long term memorization this time) the Sermon on the Mount. I might try meditating on the glories of nature while I run. I might even read a theological text or two over the course of the forty days. I do know that I will do something, because I feel a new kind of vacuum growing in my soul. I am having trouble coping with things that normally wouldn’t cause a minor blip on my screen. So, of course, I feel a little guilty like a good Greek girl should.
When I have troubles, I go runnin’ back to Jesus. But when life is good, I fail to give him any recognition. I have no excuse. I think this is what Lent is for: thinking about these things. It’s a time of joyful, but contemplative, purification. I am purifying my spirit by acknowledging my lack of acknowledgment. I see no reason to get to Lent each year and realize that I still have not been cognizantly acknowledging God throughout the year, and yet each year I get to this point in the church calendar and find myself at a loss for words. And not in a good way.
I can’t even say, maybe this will be the year in which I remain attentive to my Christian life throughout the year. I know it won’t be. I know that at this time next year, I will think to myself, Oh, shit, it’s Lent again, and I need to figure out where I am spiritually. I will be in much the same place I am now, and still unhappy with who I am in Christ. Maybe that is the secret to a fulfilling Christian life, to continually recognize how little we are growing. Maybe it’s like AA and you have to admit your problem. Hi, my name is Corby and I am a stagnant Christian, I would say at the first meeting. I am not growing. Right now. Well, maybe a little. It takes time to grow. This song reminds me of how God loves us, whether or not we grow by leaps and bounds.
I am thankful for the liturgical calendar because it reminds me each year how far I have to go and have far I have come.
Food: banana, juice, pure bar, chili, soy peanut butter sandwich, chocolate milk, pizza and bread sticks, cauliflower
Exercise: walked dogs, 35 minutes on the evil machine, walked from Burris to RB
i forgot Lent was coming up until i read this post. that’s one consequence of recently belonging to no church–and sometimes i think, no particular faith–at all: disconnectedness from the liturgical calendar, which i very much appreciate.
also, i appreciate your searching posts about this kind of thing, your own inner life. i’m always nodding along, and i’m always learning new things from “listening” to you feel your way forward.
(p.s: which evil machine?)