Again, I am failing at Lent 101. Does the choir director attend all the services? No. Does the choir director attend most of the services? No. The choir director missed every service except Sunday liturgies, Saturday vespers (when they are held in my parish), and one Presanctified Liturgy. My excuse is that I work so many hours, which is true, and that the traffic is so awful that by the time I get out of work, there is no way I can get to the weeknight services, which is also true. Have I fasted from meat, poultry and dairy? Not every day, not every category. Fail. Have I given alms? Nope. I passed by two beggars yesterday alone. Fail. How am I coming with my plan to read the Ladder this year? Zero pages read. Fail. How about my plan to do some iconography. Zero iconography accomplished. Fail. How about my plan to maintain my home in some sort of order so that I can devote more time to spiritual pursuits? Fail. Messy and dirty house, messy and dirty soul. How about my plan to pray more, obsess less, be kinder, maintain serenity, achieve balance? Fail FAIL FAIL FAIL.
As I look ahead to Pascha, I know that I will be absent from my parish from the last Sunday of Lent until Holy Wednesday, as I visit my daughter to assist her during her recuperation from major surgery. As the choir director, that means I must ensure that all the rehearsing must be completed before I leave. Must make a definite plan on how to accomplish that. I must also ensure that the Bridegroom, Holy Thursday Vesperal Liturgy and Holy Friday Matins books are set up properly before I leave. I can deal with other books and music when I get home if I don't get it accomplished prior to my leave.
I must also complete the two processional icons for Neil so that his son has a couple of weeks to fashion the poles to carry them prior to Pascha. One is nearly finished, the other not so much.
I must figure out what I'm taking to SF, what will be in the carry on, what food I will take (hate airport food), etc. There is no tv at her house, so I will need handwork (knitting), fully loaded kindle, extra cords, etc. Must ensure there is plenty of the bison food, eyedrops, benadryl, lotion, etc for Poochie while he stays with Cindy, and plenty of kibble for the cats while I'm gone. Must eat up all the perishables from the fridge. Must prepare for Paschal food preparation before I leave, or there will not be any kulich or pascha cheese.
I want to find time to do an egg - last year I didn't do any pysanky, and it was the first time in a very long time that happened.
Not enough time for all this. Not enough strength. Too much back and knee pain. Too many hours spent writing decisions off the clock just to maintain. Too much housework created by four shedding and furball vomiting cats and one blind and incontinent dog. Too much. I'm overwhelmed.
It occurs to me that this is exactly what Lent is supposed to be. It is supposed to be a coming to myself, the real self, the self that God created me to be. I cannot do all of this. It is impossible, but what is possible, is for me to be humbled and to gain insight into my own sinful laziness and desire to operate exclusively under my own steam. The old sin of pride in my own competence has gotten me into this pickle, and it simply cannot get me out. Maybe this perfect storm of duties, responsibilities and desires is God's way of giving me a good shake and saying, "DUMBKOFF! WAKE UP! I AM RIGHT HERE AND WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU! LET ME HELP YOU!"
Ya, maybe I should do that. But how? It is excruciating when I consider not planning ahead to get necessary things done, and I don't think that is what is meant when they say, Let go and let God. Maybe it means to do my best and not worry about the rest. Maybe it means to prioritize the most important things, let the rest fall by the wayside, and not beat myself up about what does not get done. Maybe it means to eliminate from the to do list all things which touch on my pride.
As I get older, I realize more and more that I just don't have a good handle on this thing called life, but I do know who does. He doesn't speak to me in ways that I can understand clearly. And maybe that is the highest priority item that I need to work on this Lent.