“We’re going to start before any of that happened. We’ll go all the way back to the first Sunday in Lent …”
This will hardly come as news to my Orthodox friends, but the season of Lent is almost upon us. This Sunday we will celebrate “Cheesefare Sunday” — the last day we can have dairy products — and then the fast, and Lent, will begin!
If this is your first year in the Orthodox Church, or if you are just learning that there even IS an Orthodox Church, you might want to consider making the journey with my little friend, Abigail. Queen Abigail the Wise starts on the first Sunday of Lent (called the Sunday of Orthodoxy, which will be March 20 this year) and finishes with the triumphant celebration of Easter (which Orthodox call Pascha — May 1 this year).
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. Bringing a bright, inquisitive little soul through the Church’s “season of bright sorrow” was part of what prompted me to write this book. But I had the funny feeling more than once that I was learning as much about Lent from her as she was learning from me.
That, I suppose, is really the point of the posts I’ll be doing for Lent. There are things that I have learned and experienced in my 30 years as an Orthodox Christian. But there are also things that I learned as I made the trip with Abigail, and things I am still learning. I thought it would be grand to re-live them by starting at the beginning of the book and reading through each week of Abigail’s Lent in conjunction with my own. If you’d like to come along, we’d love to have you. I’ll offer some perspective and a few little background tidbits every week, and I think it might just be a bit of fun. Do come!
(And if you don’t own a copy or gave all of yours away, this is a good time to get one. You can order them, in print or ebook, from Amazon HERE.)
Basil ThomasAugust 23, 2016 - 3:45 am ·
Your statement about “bringing a bright, inquisitive little soul through the season of bright sorrow” brought to mind a moment of insight that I experienced during Holy Week.
On Friday of Holy Week, the tomb is decorated by our “myrrh bearers”. The younger girls of our Parish dress in lovely frilly blue dresses, and scatter flower petals on the tomb as they pass by it in solemn procession. It is extremely sweet to see the little ones doing their best to do it just right.
I was watching this delightful scene unfold before me as I stood just outside the North deacon’ s door of our altar, where I serve as an acolyte. I remember that was considering how i was pleased to have served my parish at the altar and as the manager of our bookstore, as well as other efforts and sacrifices I’d made for the church during Lent. As I was busy congratulating myself on just how wonderful I was, a very tiny little girl approached the tomb, clutching her basket of rose petals as she let herself be gently guided by an older friend.
As she reached the tomb, her eyes closed and her solemn expression transformed into radiant joy. She reached into her basket, and flung rose petals with a joyful vivacity that touched my heart with her pure and sweetly innocent joy.
Suddenly, I was touched with the realization that though she was physically tiny, her soul was much greater than mine.
She did her part for our church without any thought for herself, other than the joy of the moment. She’d let herself be guided to her sweet task, with the humility of innocence, utterly free of any concern for appearances. She was simply happy to be there, doing it “right” in a way that came purely from her heart. She was fully present in the moment, without any concern for the past or future.
I realized, with both chagrin and delight, that I’d been taught a memorable lesson by a three year old girl. Glory to God, for such things! 🙂
adminAugust 23, 2016 - 4:14 pm ·
That is so well said! And what a wonderful experience — I can almost see it. I don’t know if it’s because I don’t have children that I keep being surprised in these ways, but even after all these years, I have times like yours where a little face or a little one’s actions can teach me a great deal about Big Truth.