All week I have been participating in what Orthodox Christians refer to as Clean Week. You are not allowed to eat meat, fish, dairy, oil, wine or any alcohol all together depending on who you ask. I started out strong in the beginning. I had attempted to fill my day with stuff to do and tasks to keep me from thinking about the bacon and eggs I had to cook for everyone else for breakfast. It was easy just saying no to cheese and creamer in my coffee.
I made salads and drank lots of water. I even cheated and had some soda since their was nothing about not eating any processed foods like chips and the like. I found myself finding ways to bend the rules just a bit. Tuesday I even told myself they didn’t have beer back in those days so I had a couple of beers. Wednesday night came around and I found myself sneaking a piece of meat off of my sons plate. Thursday we had gone to the store while the kids were in school and I made sure to get things I would eat for the rest of the lent season.
I had started out so good and I was determined to do the entire week clean in order to get closer to God. I even made a lentil soup which turned out really good but I had to freeze the other half in order not to waist it. Shaggy, my oldest even liked it. I had had such high hopes and also ironically I had stopped reading my lent book for a few days. I picked the book back up after my shameful acts of heresy.
I picked up the book and started to read yesterday while doing laundry and another light went off in my head after a couple of chapters. Light number one, its going to be a challenge in some ways. I had forgotten that the closer we get to God the more challenging things can become. I was still just going through the motions and not grasping the full concept. It was also explained to me through the book that if you do not normally do the lent season in full force on a regular it is not going to be easy to cut out all the foods.
Alexander Schmemann also suggests taking it a little at a time. Not getting hard on yourself if you make a mistake. He also makes other suggestions like, cutting out social media and TV. Or at least cutting it down. Reading a book and enjoying the silence. People don’t know how to be silent any more and it makes sense. Our society has made it OK to have back ground noise or a movie at our finger tips. I probably shouldn’t even be blogging but I am not going to be hard on myself this year.
He talked some more in his book about the communion and the debate as to whether or not you should take it if your only taking it during the lent season. The argument is one I know too well. Previously when I was LDS both my mom and my mother in law would offer up to take the kids to church because it would be good for them. I had made some compromises with religion and family because I thought that’s just what you do. I had a strong feeling come over me and I just couldn’t shake the thought of, how my kids would feel if they learned that according to the LDS faith I would not be able to be with them if they were not baptized in the church. I could not bare to have them feel bad, and since I am a big fan of not paying lip service here we are.
I realize my kids may not get baptized in orthodoxy either but at least they have the piece of mind that we are all held accountable for our own choices. I still may find myself accountable for them not getting baptized, I do pray that they choose to be baptized and be able to take communion with me. They live the life style with me by going to church and learning the gospel and praying.
What Schmemann says about the communion argument ultimately is that it gets miss interpreted. Its good to take communion and do confession as well. Communion is our way of asking God for forgiveness and you should do it as often as its presented to you but most people only participate during lent season. He explains that the reason for that is because the church in some places and in some ways has become more relaxed. Also the thought of only participating once a year has unfortunately become the norm in some places.
The biggest thing I have taken away from this week of fasting is this, it is OK to be human. We are supposed to make mistakes and learn from them so we can move on and get closer to God. The more I participate in church, lent, prayer, family etc. the easier it will become. If I take it slow and get stricter and stricter each week I might just make it to Pascha. Still I must keep in mind that I am only human. Next week I will be making some meals in advance. I got a book from the library on how to cook with grains. Currently I am soaking some wheat berries for lunch time.