Choosing what is better

This has been the strangest Lent. I have never felt so busy, so pressured, in a long time. And it’s all good and necessary stuff — the puppy, teaching a class at a local Evangelical university, a catechumen/goddaughter, parish council.

Then, interspersed in there, the necessary and welcome services of Great Lent. I feel like I haven’t had time to catch my breath. Instead of finding God in the whispers and the silence, I’m trying to catch him like a DC Metro train at 6 p.m.–squished and packed and heart-pounding as the doors close behind me.

It isn’t how I want to do Lent, and it makes easy for me to justify not doing it right, not polishing up that image of God and working toward His likeness. I mean, I’m so busy, right? Who has time to be a  human being?

Last Lent, with my friends on their blog and the fury and the fire of what happened to them, my heart seemed just broken and raw through the whole season. I wanted, craved, the safety of the Church and the rhythm of the season. I was Mary, sitting at the feet of my Savior and begging to feel whole.

This year, man, I am all Martha–a white rabbit going everywhere and getting nothing done. In a couple weeks, we’ll be at the end, with the darkness and flickering hope of Holy Week leading us to the bright and raucous light of Pascha. With a little luck, and probably a whole lot more discipline, I’ll find some kind of rhythm by then. But I’d be fooling myself to think this is not how it’s going to be from here on out. I’m heading into married life, I’m approaching 40 (EEEK) and our culture shows no sign of giving anybody room to breath. Even if it’s just baby steps, I’m going to have to come out of the kitchen and listen to what’s going on with the Teacher.

In other news, Helo’s still a pretty awesome puppy. One of these guys met him and said he’s well-socialized. To me that’s like having Michael Jordan tell me good shot.

Last week, he learned to swim. ‘Twas pretty darn cute.

My song of Ascent

Psalm 119 (or 126 to you Western types)

To the Lord in my affliction I cried out, and He heard me.

O Lord, deliver my soul from unjust lips, And from a deceitful tongue…

Woe is me! My sojourning was prolonged; I dwelt with the tents of Kedar.

My soul sojourned a long time as a resident alien.

With those who hate peace, I was peaceful; When I spoke to them, they made war against me without cause.

The first rule of faith, or so says Gaius Baltar in that inspired work, Battlestar Galactica, is that this is not all that we are. So say we all!

Last night was the first Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, which outside of Holy Week and Pascha, is my very favorite service. I can’t get enough of them and if it weren’t for their presence as a mid-week anchor point, I am darn sure I wouldn’t get through Lent, i.e. check out in the first week (Steak, please!)

There’s something so otherworldly about them –all dark and mysterious, minor tones, incense, lots of kneeling. And I rush to them, often barely getting there on time, fresh from some joy in the newsroom or courthouse. So it’s like going through some kind of portal into another place, another time, or really another dimension.

I could NOT engage with it last night–I tapped my feet, twiddled my thumbs, watched the candlelight dance around my diamond ring (it’s pretty). I stared at the windows, gazed at the icons and just generally tried to not get up and walk around.

Until Fr. Andrew started talking about the Psalm. About how we don’t belong here, and how this whole place is like being lost somewhere or worse, stuck somewhere. About how this Lenten journey is about trying to work our way out of that place, about getting free from the war-ravaged tents of Kedar. About how we know this, and how it is probably what keeps us up at night, or should, and how we always feel out of touch, out of step and out of place.

I know I talk about this a lot, but tell me you don’t feel it too. Tell me it does not feel like this is not your home. How can we possibly belong here–this place with the 99% and the 1%, the abortion and the death penalty? How could this be what He meant us for, this land of the constant-conflict and the nuclear weapons programs? How can this be what He meant us for?

Well, I’m getting out. It’s going to take me a whole lot longer than just the next 35 days (what’s left of Lent), but I’m going. I can’t take it anymore–the grief, the suffering, the nonsense and the mundane. I’m going to take that pill, every week at Holy Communion. I’m going to stare at the icons till I learn what it is they want to show me. I’m going to try really, really hard to not be such a raging bitch most of the time.

I’m telling you right now, I’m not going to be any good at it at all. I’m too far gone, too comfortable, too much like the trolls in the stable in C.S. Lewis’ The Last Battle. But by God’s grace, I’m going to try. I’m going to do what Lucy did, and I’m going to follow Aslan “further up and further in.”

I’m going home.