Now and then someone will tell me that they enjoy reading my blog. Usually I think "Wow! It's been awhile since I posted anything." Today I noticed that it has been pretty near 2 years! (I knew it was a long time - but I didn't think it was THAT long.)
This evening we celebrated the Vespers of "Lazarus Saturday." In the Eastern Churches this marks the end of Great Lent. In the Western Churches Holy Week is considered part of Lent. Not so in the East, where the forty days of fasting are now concluded. The Great Holy Week is also a time of fasting - stricter - but we have finished the Quadragesima, the forty days. And I must say that, while usually Lent seems interminable to me, this year it has gone in a flash and I actually feel nostalgic for it.
Have we already done all of those services - Great Compline, the Presanctified Liturgy, the Great Canon of Repentance, the Akathist Hymn to Our Lady? How many prostrations and Prayers of St. Ephraim have flowed under the bridge? Ineed: how ever will I get all the things needed for Holy Week and Pascha in order?
I used to dread the onset of Lent - though I knew it was good for what ails me! The dietary discipline was heavy: no meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, wine. The services tended to be longer. Prostrations. Like many youngsters I got pretty much enmeshed in the externals themselves, perhaps failing to realize the depth hidden in them and revealed through them. I don't know why, but this year it was very different. The corporal limitations of "senior citizenship" manifested themselves in a failure to be able to perform even one single prostration. Time was when I was able to celebrate the morning and evening services every day. That time has gone. I have even had to modify some of the stricter details of fast and abstinence.
Not being able has granted me the insight to really plumb the depths of those things I am able to do! Being the only one standing in church when almost everyone else is on their knees with heads bowed to the ground is a mite embarrassing, but it's also an occasion for surrender and perhaps humility. Not being able to "do" as many services has given me more and more recourse to the beloved "Jesus Prayer" - a welcome transition. Even the need to include a "bit" of animal protein to my diet has made me more acutely aware of the spirit of fasting, for simplicity.
Two years since I have last blogged - and forty days since beginning Great Lent with "Forgiveness Vespers" both astonish me. Really!
The time is short. Two years. Forty days. Five minutes waiting in line. Three-score-and four years on this earth. It is all like a rush of flowing water.
"A man - his days are like grass. As a flower of the field so shall he bloom. But let a breath pass over him and he is gone and never shall he know his place again. But the love of the Lord is from all eternity and to all eternity to those who fear him." (Psalm 105)
Forgive me my absence, negligence, laziness, preoccupation, scatteredness. God grant us all a solemn and prayerful Holy Week and a glorious Pascha!