I told my husband last week, “You know that part in Saint John Chrysostom’s Paschal homily where he says, – ‘If any of you have arrived only at the eleventh hour, do not be dismayed for being late.  The Master is gracious: He accepts the last even as the first…’  –  That’s us this year.

I’m so off this Lent.  I have never missed so many services during Lent in my entire life!

Ug.

Then I heard my dad whispering in my ear from many years ago, “You could do more.”

Poo.  Four little simple words he said to me long ago that still echo in my ears when I know I’m slipping.  As much as I didn’t want to admit it to myself, he was right.  The thing is…Lent is not about what you’re depriving yourself of while fasting.  It’s about conquering your passions.

I found myself struggling on this particular journey to Pascha more than most.  The dynamics of our family are different this year from all the years past which threw me off more than I wanted to admit to myself.  The irony is that at the same time of my internal struggle, I read an article online from a bishop who was talking about the struggle of Lent.  He was basically saying that if you’re fasting without struggle, then you’re probably not fasting…because, let’s face it, I’m not a saint who has conquered all of my passions.  I’m not Jesus either.  Therefore I’ve got my issues I need to improve upon.

It also made me realize what I had failed to face in years past during Lent.

No one wants to hear they have weaknesses that could use improving.  No one wants to hear they need to put forth more effort when they feel like they are already doing so.

The reality is – where was I putting all of my efforts?  Where were my priorities?  Not where they should have been.

Last week, we went to Compline in the evening.  It’s one of my favorite services.  We kept missing Father (at our new parish) to talk to him, in person, after church on Sundays since all Gabriel can think about after Holy Communion is getting food and Symeon is already an hour past his normal 1st nap of the day and is ready to sleep!  Father came and talked to us out in the narthex after the evening service.  Such a friendly and kind man!  He made sure we knew all about the events going on at church, showed us where the Sunday School classrooms were located, and invited the big boys to be altar boys at the following service.  When I climbed into the van and started talking to Les, more than any other moment since moving here, this new city definitely felt like our new home now.

All I heard all day from Chris last Friday was, “I can’t wait to go on the altar tonight!”

Today, we were invited over to the home of a homeschooling family at our parish who have boys the same age as my big boys.  My kids had such a great time with them.  I think Zach and Chris are going to join a robotics team with them too.

I got an email today inviting me to be a presenter for three Saturdays in a row this summer for a diocese Orthodox teachers conference.  I. am. giddy. with. anticipation.  I’ll be working on that presentation ATW!!!  (“After the Wedding” – it’s a term that’s used with high frequency around here these days.)

So many aspects of our life are settling in and falling into place these days.  It renews my energy.  For the journey is not strictly alone – it also takes place within a greater community as well.

And when we attend the Paschal Liturgy this year and I’m listening to Saint John Chrysostom’s homily at the end – I’m going to have a much deeper appreciation for the meaning and acceptance despite my unworthiness.

“Lord, remember me in your kingdom.”