Let us flee from the boasting of the Pharisee and learn through our own sighs of sorrow the humility of the Publican. Let us cry out to the Savior, “Have mercy on us, for through You alone are we reconciled. –Kontakion for the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee; the beginning of the Triodion
As an Evangelical I complained that our holidays were too condensed. Easter didn’t even have Good Friday proceeding it — there it was, all of a sudden, so the pastor would give a Good Friday themed sermon on Easter Sunday, accompanied by happy hymns and flowers. As is said, “be careful what you ask for…” We have just had two week announcing the coming of the Triodion, which announced the coming of Lent, which prepares us for Holy Week, which prepares us for Pascha. As we say: it’s the preparation for the preparation for the preparation for Pascha.
Sometimes, especially as a twenty-something, life seems like that all the time. Preparation for the preparation for the preparation for… what? Loving God and our neighbors? I am not alone in the temptation to blame modernity, but reading the ancients I am struck by the theme as well — hardly anyone is ready to do anything until they have spent years and even decades working out who they are and their relationship with God. God is apparently big into preparation, sending people out in the desert for forty days or three years or forty years by way of preparation for ministry.
Sometimes it seems a little much. 2 weeks + 3 weeks + 40 days + 1 week of escalating preparation for Pascha? Really? It’s beautiful and meaningful, but must we do this for so much of every spring? And for so much of every life? Apparently, yes. And must I go about preparing all the time for who knows what? Going about from school to work to school to work to wondering about work and life to who knows what? Can’t I just find out how to live and then stay there? Perhaps if I were a better person. Perhaps not.