Well, I have not posted in quite some time. I have been spending ALL my energy growing a baby. I have a litany of illnesses, pains, and problems I could share, but why bother? All is well with baby, and that is the most important thing. My struggles, when discussed, sound like complaints and bitterness. I am sure those two ingredients are in the cake mix, but there is also joy, and great expectations, and pleasure. It’s all there mixed up together, and the timer is about to buzz, and out will come the yummy deliciousness of a baby. Don’t babies just make you want to eat them up? The hot time in the oven is worth a cake any day.
So, this Liturgical Life post is going to be a little unorthodox, in the sense that I am going to post about the liturgy of just living. I have no great books, or prayers, or services, or projects to report. No, we have nothing to share in the traditional sense, but I do have a story. The liturgical story I can honestly tell is one that is hard to put into words. When something is hard to say, it usually means it was hard to understand. Our liturgical life from May through June has been hard to understand. But, life is not always easy to understand, especially if I am trying to put everything in a check the box kind of list. So, here goes, I hope I say this right:
What we are reading:
A wonderful book lies on the side table in the living room. We are on chapter something, I cannot remember. What we have read is enough for me to have a certain heartbreak every time I look at its cover. The girls asked about it for a while after we stopped reading it, but now they have stopped. It’s stories are haunting, in the sense that they are wonderful; a truly humble priest who loves God very much struggles for himself and those around him in a Communist labor camp in Communist Russia. Why did I stop reading it? Because I imagine I cannot. Because I am tired. The very thing that might cure my weariness is the hardest thing to do. This realization is humbling, and I know who I really am…no spiritual giant, no hero, no suffering servant. I am a sinner. I have deep seated faults and weaknesses. Lord Jesus have mercy on me and help me.
Father Arseny, 1893-1973: Priest, Prisoner, Spiritual Father
I have read the books of Hebrews, Galatians, and Ephesians, in that order. I have been meditating on righteousness, and what it means to be a friend of God. I have cried out to the Lord for years to help me with guilt, the kind of guilt that is unhealthy and a result of perfectionism, pride, and self-righteousness. In this very unproductive season of my life, a time when I am forced to stop production and just rest, I am experiencing the righteousness of Christ Jesus. I wrote a little expository piece entitled A Persistence in Innocence that I may share in the future. But, for now I am contemplating the finishing work of Jesus and the revelation that He is. He is the full revelation of God and Man. He alone is perfect, and I am His. I have not included my children in these readings, but on a heart level I believe they are experiencing Christ through the work of grace going on in my heart.
PASCHA May 5
Ascension June 13
Pentecost June 23
We have not attended any special services outside of Sunday Liturgy (we have missed some Sunday Liturgies due to my hip pain) and the above listed. This Saturday we did go to the Hermitage for Liturgy, but my comment afterwards to my husband was this, “Is it wrong that the only reason I went to the service today is because I love Father Gregory so much, and I miss him?” I have not been able to talk with Father Gregory, our spiritual father, very much in the last few months. He has called several times to check on me and the family, but I have not seen him. In a very real sense I believe that there are times in our life when people are Christ to us. Sometimes we have a hard time with the unseen, and men and women of God help us to hold onto the faith. I see Christ in Father Gregory, I feel safe resting in his piety and love, and I long to be with him when I feel weak. A monk is a special gift to the church, and Father Gregory is a blessing to our family.
This section is a tribute to my husband, and especially my daughters. To be in the service of another, to bear their burdens, and to bind their wounds is the very essence of Christ. My daughters have had to bare a large burden sense I have been unable to work, cook, or plan activities. They have cooked, watched little ones, kept the laundry going, and cleaned while I have been down. Their little ways make me feel very vulnerable, and I have learned a lot watching them as they obey and serve. It has been hard at times, and attitudes and tempers flare as we are all stretched and pushed. However, the love they have shown and what they have had to do is the true work of salvation. Although I struggle with guilt and anger about them having to care for me, I also know that if I shelter them from this time of service I will rob them of a true grace. This is not to say that I will always depend on them at this level, and I definitely do not want to take advantage of them or hurt them. I look forward to things getting back to some semblance of normal. But, this is a special time, and a very special project. It has definitely been ugly at times, the house looks like kids have been running it, as my oldest daughter would say. But, we are a family and we are pulling together, and that is very special.