I just loved going to Liturgy of the Pre-sanctified Gifts on Wednesday night. That's one of my favorite things about lent.
I love the joyous and sober anticipation of Pascha.
I love the prostrations and the prayer of St. Ephraim.
(Ok, a note of explanation so what I'm about to write makes sense: I'm on a special diet ordered by my doctor to control my hypoglycemia and reduce fibromyalgia pain. Therefore I don't fast according to Orthodox practice. My priest told me so. This diet IS my fast.) As SOON as lent started, I began to crave bread like nothing else. When I'm on the strict side of my diet, there IS NO bread, or potatoes, or rice, or grains, or legumes...nothing at all starchy. Not even carrots or onions, two veggies I dearly love and miss. I can tell there is an element of spiritual battle going on that this suddenly became much harder for me. In the past I have always caved in to my desires and used lent as my excuse to eat things I crave like BREAD...not this year. I am determined, by God's grace.
So, my new Mantra this lent: Jesus is my bread.
And this first week of Lent has percolated a thing or two to the surface that I need to work on (that is to say, repent of). Frequent trips to confession are in order. And they are big, core issues in my life. Prayers appreciated.
I seem to be marinating in the Matins prayers these days. Cuppa something hot (low carb, and sugar free of course), and a couple of hot boiled eggs (see explanation above) to keep my hands warm, an afghan and the chilly morning back porch, birds, slanting morning sunlight, Matins and me. And each time, something new pops out. Particularly this morning the words from Psalm 37: "I am afflicted and humbled exceedinly, I have roared from the groaning of my heart. O Lord, before Thee is all my desire, and my groaning is not hid from Thee. My heart is troubled, my strength hath failed me..."
That's so much my reality. Last weekend I was feeling really incredible, physically, and I was so keenly aware that it is ALWAYS the Holy Spirit that gives us strength...both spiritually and physically. It is HE who holds us together, and enables us to do all things. Perhaps this reality is so close to the surface for me right now because of my illness and the fact that this becomes miraculously and tangibly real for me on some days because of it. The physical system is screwed up and I can't always guarantee that good behavior (decent bed time, decent food, decent exercise) will give me the results a human being would normally expect (decent enegry, health, etc). So, this is casting me upon God's mercy, as we all are dependent on His mercy.
And the reality is that we are ALL of us dependent to that extent on God's mercy. Every breath. Every cellular mitochondrial function. Every red blood cell deliverying oxygen through every capillary to each cell: a miracle dependent on God.
And each act of my repentance: dependent on God as well. This, too, I cannot do myself.