I was walking between the education/fellowship wing of our Church building and the part of the building that contains the nave this morning. It's a breezeway, and off to one side there's a little garden, with a cross shaped footpath, a bench and an outdoor icon of the Theotokos holding the child Christ.
The weather was mild, and I decided to stop for a moment there at that little shrine, and say a prayer.
A moment turned into many moments, and I stood there in the wind for a very long time, praying the Jesus Prayer. I did not get cold, even though it is December.
Soon tears were streaming down my cheeks and drenching my coat, and I had the keenest sense of my own sins. I could see them very clearly. Chiefly I am grieved over my carnality. My worldliness. I waste so much time on things that are not real and on things which do not pull me or push me towards heaven. I am a slave to my body and a slave to my carnal self and this carnal world in so very many ways.
And something inside of me snapped. (At least for today!) I just don't want anything but God and His heavenly Kingdom. Someone asked me what I want for Christmas, and I couldn't even say. I don't even want anything. Just to live the Gospel as best I can. And I fall down so many times.
I want to be dead to the world. Of course I cannot escape to a monastery since I am a married lady with a family. But I've been wondering: How do I live a spiritual life as a lay person? It has to start with prayer and the sacraments and being in the Holy Scriptures. And you know what, I am very weak. I find that it is a huge stretch to take the Sacraments more than twice a week. Like I'm spiritually too weak to do so. I need to be strengthened, and I need to build up those muscles.
I often start out on such a path with good intentions, and then I crash and burn because I do too much too soon, like a baby who wants to run but is really still at the cruising stage and who falls when he lets go of the sofa. But how to I grow into it so that I DO get to the point of having more endurance?
This has been brewing for a while now, and the head covering thing is a part of it. I know it is. Like, when I started covering last May, suddenly my prayer life went down the toilet and I had to rebuild it from the bottom again. Suddenly the spiritual life that I've been engaging in (such as it is) became more of a struggle.
So here I am, but I see the next step in this obedience.
So how do I do this?
Well, for starters I need to clean up my reading. Less fiction. More spiritual stuff. And if it is fiction, it needs to be something elevating. I have a penchant for the most banal literature. God forgive me, I ought to be reading the Holy Scriptures, and spiritual things instead. What a wastrel I am.
Second thing that "goes in" to my brain: TV. I never actually turn on the Television set so it's easy to thing I don't really watch TV, when in reality I watch about two hours most evenings over the internet. Wes and I will get started on a series that is a few years old and watch episode after episode. Something that's meant for one hour a week, when it's taken in in a condensed form is not good. But the advantage is (if I will listen to the still small voice yelling at me over my shoulder) that all the gunk is concentrated and easier to discern. Of course discernment requires follow through in riddance. God have mercy.
I do OK on music.
I need to go for walks and pray the Jesus prayer. My body and my mind and spirit need the exercise. It's like killing two birds with one stone.
I need to be disciplined about going to bed early enough so that I can get up and go to matins. To be so close to Church and not take advantage of daily prayer services that can be prayed with the community is a sin. The reasons I usually turn off the alarm clock and roll over in the mornings have everything to do with staying up to late watching those dumb shows on the internet. Beyond that, I'm fairly consistent with Morning Prayers with the kids, since we do it to start out school day.
And at some point I need to beef up my evening prayer habit as well. It's there, but currently it suffers from brevity and a lack of oomph due to evening tiredness.
There's lots to do. People to love and a world to pray for. Much to repent of. How come I waste my time so often in vain pursuits?
Well, those are my thoughts tonight. God have mercy on me a sinner and keep my spirit safe. I did take a nice walk this evening. Prayer rope, Jesus Prayer, and all.