12 Mar Avoiding extreme drops in your spiritual "temperature"
Yesterday was a beautiful day. The temperatures got up into the 60s, the children got to play outside. It was wonderful. As I write this afternoon, the wind is whipping, there’s a mix of snow and rain coming down and the temperature is dropping fast. By tonight and into tomorrow morning, we’ll be looking at negative wind chills again. That’s a drastic and very rapid change from one day to the next. As we are into our second week of Lent, we have to guard ourselves against massive drops in our spiritual "temperature." What do I mean by that? Prior to Lent, we had a month of dedicated to helping us prepare for the Great Fast. We had time to think about how we would greet it, and what steps we were going to take to allow it to be spiritually beneficial to our lives. The first week was very intense. We dove in right away with the Great Canon of St. Andrew. Starting with Vespers on the eve of Forgiveness Sunday, there was a Church service nine consecutive days! Now, we are in the midst of a "break" at least from having services each and every day. There is nothing as intense as that first week for quite awhile. It can be very easy for all of the energy and enthusiasm we greeted the Fast with to start to wane.
We don’t want to go from a spiritual high to a spiritual low in a short period of time. People often remark that "my Lent started great, but lately, it’s not been going so well." People often begin to feeling like they have failed in some respect.
So, how can we avoid these extremes in how we feel? We must always keep in mind that Lent is an opportunity–an opportunity for us to cast aside the things that keep us from God, so that we can draw closer to him. It’s a marathon, and not a sprint. We don’t have to feel like a failure if we have a "bad day" because there is always tomorrow to start anew. Don’t look back at opportunities lost, look forward to the next day’s opportunities. When there are services offered in the Church, try to attend. When there aren’t, find little ways to remind yourself throughout the day that it is the Lenten season: read the daily scriptures, say the prayer of St. Ephraim when you get home from work or school and do some prostrations, crack open a spiritual book. Have you thought about almsgiving and charitable acts? What can you do for your brother or sister in Christ?
If this weather this week has taught us anything, it’s that one day is truly different from the other. There will always be unexpected things around the corner. So, it behooves us to look at each day of the great Fast as its own day of opportunity. The more prepared we are to take advantage of that opportunity, the better our experience can be.