Back in Lent 2016, I did a series of blogposts so that people could read through the weeks of Lent with Queen Abigail the Wise and get some sidebar remarks and comments from me at the time. It was just a chance to add some commentary, plus show a few sketches that didn’t make it into the book.
I’m gathering them together in a list because I know some people who are just beginning to read the book for the first time and expressed an interest. I’ll list the topics and which chapters they go with, so you can look in on whichever ones interest you. (And by the way, I’ll avoid spoilers in the list below, but you should probably read the posts after the chapters listed if you don’t want to encounter spoilers.) I thought it was nice to share a little of what was in my head at the time — hope you agree. Enjoy!
Read through Lent with Abigail — Just a bit of an introduction to the series, and some thoughts about Lent. “It may seem silly to ask 10-year-old Abigail to accompany you on your trip this year, but I’m hoping you’ll find her a wise companion.”
Lenten time (first part of chapter 1) — Just a little bit about the longer services we have during Lent. They’re a problem for my protagonist, but they might really be a help to us all.
Icons and processions (chapter 1 & 2) — Abigail’s day in church becomes more difficult because of the homage paid to the icons on the first Sunday of Lent. But it’s also an icon that sets her on a kind of quest. So what is it about icons and children?
Bad behavior and sin (chapter 2) — Abigail can’t understand why she got into trouble when she is such a good person who just slips up once in a while. Aren’t we all a little bit like that? Maybe that’s the reason we need Lent every year.
Getting by with a little help from our friends (chapters 4-6) — Abigail comes up with a plan to help her get started. But it involves some of the other girls in church. Why is it that we like to band together sometimes?
Hesychasm, the Jesus Prayer and little friends (chapter 7) — The second Sunday of Lent is dedicated to St. Gregory Palamas, the defender of the Orthodox tradition of mystical prayer called ‘hesychasm.’ It’s a big subject, and how can you break it down in ways that a child could understand? This was my problem.
Old Testament stories in a New Testament world (chapters 8 & 9) — I love all things related to storytelling, and I loved the Old Testament stories when I was young. So of course I had to use one of the classics when Abigail was trying to make a point to her friend. But the funny thing is, those stories are still so relevant sometimes. There’s still so much there.
So many crosses from one Cross (chapter
10-13) — As Abigail has started trying to work through her own problem, and those of her friends, she has begun to notice that the things she hears in church can actually help. How will the Sunday of the Cross help her when the group is given their strangest problem yet?
A little comic relief (chapter 15) — One of the discussions gave me a chance to talk about the funny things that can go wrong in the services. That might seem like an irreverent subject, but it’s also just part of all being human beings together.
The sins of a child, part 1 (chapter 14-15) — The Sunday of Mary of Egypt gives an opportunity for Abigail to consider what is really sinful. But she might be looking in the wrong direction, as we sometimes do under such circumstances.
The sins of a child, part 2 (chapter 17) — Lent is coming to an end, but Abigail’s little heart is brimming with aggravation over some things that seem terribly unfair. She doesn’t think that the sacrament of confession really matters, but it does out it just might.
Abigail’s Holy Week (chapters 18-19) — Some unforeseen circumstances end up affecting Abigail’s week just before Pascha. I offer a bit of explanation and apology for why I wrote this section the way I did.
Abigail’s Holy Saturday (chapters 20-23) — Abigail suddenly needs everything she has learned in order to help her and the others through a crisis.
Abigail’s Pascha (chapters 24-25) — Don’t we all love a happy ending?
A happy ending and moving forward — Just some wrap-up thoughts about what the point was and what things may come next for my characters.