1. The Journey - I like to reflect upon how I am living out this penitential season. But, I am always cautious to do so on the internet, because we are called to do so in privacy. We are to "wash our face, anoint our heads" and partake of our Fast with joy and love of the Lord. Lent is a great gift to us. It is an opportunity to turn ourselves back to the way things ought to be. It is a time to be less self-absorbed with the physical and balance the physical with the metaphysical. Ah, Lent! It is a rich season of our faith. It is the story of the creatures' life with the Creator. Liturgically we journey from creation, fall, exile and to the Apex of our exile--Christ and our Salvation. It's an amazing journey. I have been partaking in Lent since I was a little girl and each year Lent grows into something bigger and more beautiful. I learn new things about the tradition each year. I wonder if there will ever be a year where I say, I think I have completed the full journey of Great Lent.
2. Prayer - I have been reading Alexander Schmemman, Great Lent, again this year. This is the third year I am reading Great Lent. Each year I begin it and become overwhelmed by it. I read a little each night and then half way I usually think it's too much. This year, I am not reading it slowly. I hope to finish it up quickly. I think by doing this I will at least complete it and then perhaps begin again. This year we are gifting ourselves the Triodian (Triodian Info), which was one of the prayer books Fr. Schmemman speaks about in the book. We'll let you know how it goes for us. We've been at this Byzantine thing 8 years and we're still learning year after year.
3. Fasting - In addition to the usual Great Fast abstentions I am trying to give up coffee creamer again, but so far I have only started today, Friday. I know it sounds like a small thing, but I put a fancy creamer in my coffee and a lot of it. So it's not a small thing. Some abstentions take longer to build up to. I mean if it is our appetites we want to quiet, sometimes appetites are addictions. Addictions/habits take time to change. Giving up coffee creamer is a big deal for me. After giving up creamer, I am going to cut my luxury drink (coffee) down to one per day. I am not writing about this to put my "piety" on display. I think writing it down helps me to process it and helps me be stronger. It's a catharsis for me. The moment I write it down here I can let it go. I can give up my obsessions and focus on what is important.
4. Disaster in the Ashes - Even though we are Byzantine and the beginning of Lent is earlier than the Romans, I like to go to Ash Wednesday service. I told my husband that I really wanted to take the kids this year to help them have a visual for the season of Lent. However, we went and they still did not get it. What's worse is that we showed up a little late. I took the kids to the cry room, because I knew Annie would be crabby and not behave. Who should be in the cry room, but the strictest mother I have ever met. She has ten children. I do not even know what she was doing there. Her children are always perfectly behaved at church. She has a new baby and maybe she was concerned he would make noise during church. But, she told me once that she makes one year olds sit still and quiet for an hour a day, so that they will learn to be quiet and still in other situations she needs them to be quiet in. I do not know how she does that. Don't one year olds just scream when you make them sit still? Anyhow, my kids were off the hook naughty. No one would sit. No one would be quiet. I haven't seen them that naughty in a while. Annie was particularly grumpy and tired. She would not stop throwing all the contents of my diaper bag all over the cry room. I should have left. But, I held hope things would get better. Knowing the "Strict Momma" was in the room made me extra anxious and unable to deal with the situation. Finally, I slapped Annie's hand and told her, "No!" after making a big mess. I know you must think I am a terrible mother for not controlling the Annie/bag situation, but the child works fast. She's an intelligent, little con-artist. She could fool anyone. She got so mad at me she looked me in the eye, cried out, gritted her fists and peed all over the floor--Pièce de résistance. It was really embarrassing. I cut out their afternoon luxuries after that. They did not get to watch T.V. or play games. They understood me and still misbehaved.
5. Humility in Home School - We had a rough month in January doing home school. Alex had a bad attitude toward doing his work. It was taking all afternoon to complete small tasks. Finally, I thought for a second, perhaps he was having trouble switching gears from our morning outings to doing school work in the afternoon. Plus, our neighbor had been sick and she could not watch Annie to prevent Annie distractions. As much as I lamented it, I knew what had to be done. We needed to start home school earlier in the day. This would mean I would not get to go to the gym in the morning. I have enjoyed the morning crowd socialization. I wondered how I could have my cake and eat it too. I thought that maybe we would get up earlier and do school and still be out the door before 9:00 a.m. to go to the gym. But in the end, I had to give up some morning workouts. Now I try to do a mix of some afternoon workouts and some later mornings. So Alex has been working on school first thing and the neighbor was able to take Annie earlier. He has been completing all the work and extra work with very little complaint. So now I have the whole afternoon free to have a little down time and catch up on house work. It has been hard for ME to make this change. But, it is obviously working out better. We are all less stressed. Today, I am able to sit and blog, because my afternoon is free. So I am humbled, once again by my children.
6. Curious Annie - every time I look away she is into something and then when I go to clean up the mess she made, she sneaks away and gets into something else. At first I thought I was a bad mom, because how could one little kid get into so much if I were watching her. But then I realized any moment I am not with her preventing her getting into stuff, she is into something. She gets into stuff right in front of me, but at least I am there to stop it. It's no better when my husband is around. It's just two parents chasing after her messes. I cannot run after her every second. Why can't she just stay put and play with toys or look at books. She always has to climb to the top shelf everywhere and unlock locked doors. That's all she wants to do is get into things that are forbidden. When she walks into the pantry, she wants to open every package, inspect the contents and then dump it on the floor. If it's glass she tries to break it by smashing it on the floor. Yes, we are very cautious. We have locked cabinets where needed, because she does it over and over. I think she must be incredibly curious and head strong. I wonder what Annie will be like as an adult.
7. Alone - My husband was out of town for six days. I was bummed about being alone. I tried to not throw myself a pity party and that helped. But I realized why it was so tough mentally. Life without Andrew has a little less meaning. There was no one to share our days with. The main person I created this life with was absent and it just felt empty.