OK. I know this makes me a church hopper, but I guess you have to go where you understand the language. After about two years at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, I’ve been visiting St. Nicholas–an OCA parish where English is the language of the liturgy. They have a Vespers service, and well, it’s good to know what you’re saying when you’re praying. Changes at work make it necessary for me to take spiritual precautions, to be a more active participant in my faith in order to, in all seriousness, save my soul.
That said, it’s about that time–We’re getting ready to head into the Lenten Triodion, a kind of pre-Lent Lent. Last Sunday was the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee. The Epistle reading was from St. Paul’s letter to St. Timothy, reminding me to keep that which I learned in childhood, which make me “wise for salvation through faith.” Then we get to the Gospel reading, Christ’s parable of the Publican and the Pharisee.
It’s kind of interesting to me, where I am at spiritually. I had to grow up fast in Orthodoxy. And I’m not doing a very good job at it, probably. I’m like a little Orthodox street urchin, begging and scrapping for whatever I can get. Growing up in a very spiritually conservative household, going to the good Evangelical college, and even working there later, I knew I fell perilously close to the Pharisee in this little parable. I’m sure it didn’t get any better after I converted. Looking back over some of my previous posts, and knowing how I came off to friends and family, I know I didn’t get any better.
But now, it’s different now. My Orthodox family has disintegrated–spread far and wide by what happened at St. John’s. I am, with the exception of one very beloved family, the only person left here in my community. And I have struggled, struggled, struggled.
My job, the daily grind and all that has worn down my soul like a rock under a constant drip–all concave and cracked. So as I approach this Lenten season, I stand there feeling less than the Publican. I feel like I have taken lives. I feel like I have run through all the “seven deadlies” and am working my way back through ’em just for kicks. This is how I feel. I’m sure to the angels in the Liturgy, when I sneak in the back, I look like I just rolled in dirt before I came in.
I stand here, at the edge of Great Lent, and I pray, I mean to say I am praying, that this is going to be different this year, the season I renew my vows, the 40 days I spend kneeling-sword sheathed and head bowed-before my King. This is the season I’m going to learn how to walk again.
Tomorrow is the Sunday of the Prodigal Son. “Prodigal”, as I have recently learned means “wasteful.” That’s me. I have squandered the last three years of Orthodoxy, of Holy treasure in anger, in confusion, in hurt. But no more. Please, dear Lord, no more.