Gearing up

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.

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Author: Rebecca

Orthodox Christian. Writer. SAR K9 handler-in training. All three of those are deeply related.

3 thoughts on “Gearing up”

  1. “…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.”

    Hmm.
    We are sinful and flawed. Everything we do is sinful and flawed. Nothing we do will be perfect enough to earn a mere second in heaven.

    It is my hope that you find the peace and comfort in that not only are you not alone in this, but that He wants to be with you to make it right.

    This is, as I have learned, not unlike when my daughter throws a fit because she fell down walking/wobbling to something she sought. I was ready to help her, if she would just look up, take my hand, and walk where she was led. I would give her anything she needed that I could give and would protect her with all I have. If I, in my imperfection, feel this and do this, how much more so will our perfect Father help, guide, and protect us?

    “O Israel, hope in the Lord;
    For with the Lord there is mercy,
    And with Him is abundant redemption.
    And He shall redeem Israel
    From all his iniquities.”

    Psalm 130:7-8

    A

  2. If you look like you just rolled in dirt before you came in, then I would argue you’re in the right place. Mass isn’t for angels – it’s for sinners, and that’s all of us. Consider Peter – the Rock on which the Church was built – the first time he met Christ. His reaction was (paraphrasing), If You are who You say You are, go away from me, because I’m not worthy. To that, He just smiles – I know, because I made you, but I will make you worthy. We’re not put on this earth to be judged, friend, but so that He can wash our feet.

  3. May the Lord be with you. He is close to those who no longer hide their brokenness.

    “To have found God and still to pursue Him is the soul’s paradox of love, scorned indeed by the too-easily-satisfied religionist, but justified in happy experience by the children of the burning heart.” -A.W. Tozer

    Grace & peace be with you.

    Don Helton

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