Holy Monday: Keeping Pace

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 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

-Galatians 5:22-25

As I write this, birds are singing just outside my window. The rolling green of middle Tennessee fills the vast windows of the house. It is a perfect Spring day. In a few hours, I’ll take the long road to the airport and wind my way back to Chicago and my waiting family. All the things I put off in order to make a long weekend away with my husband happen will be piled up on the countertops, the calendar, and the sink. I’m glad to get home. Silence and solitude are nice but at this point in my life, they are only able to be temporary places.

I grab at these temporary places and stuff remembrances of them into my purse and my pockets– the birds singing, the click of the keys on my laptop, the breeze, gentle and slightly cooler than the heat of the day. As I embark on this Holy Week it will be important to be able to recognize the gifts of the temporary places, to hold the remainders of the silence and the solitude in my palms, to feel the soft weightiness of them, like a worry stone in my hand when I am tempted to rush into the “real” life.

For the Orthodox Christian, the anticipation of Pascha is heightened by the rush of services offered in the days ahead. For converts like myself, who are parenting, and prone to feeling the anxiety of “doing it right,” this week can be daunting. Each year, I chide myself about doing it right, it’s enough to make me want to avoid all the things and just curl into a fetal position on my bed until Pascha finds me at last like a parent finds a hiding child.

But I hope that keeping the remnants of the silence and the solitude from my long weekend will remind me that this week is a gift if I’m able to pull back a bit and see it in that light. And because of the weighty worry stones in my palms, this “keeping in step with the Spirit” I read about today in Galatians suddenly doesn’t feel like an admonition to “keep up” but rather to find the pace. This is a slowing down time, a paying attention time, keeping in step here means a steady rhythm, like heartbeats, like bird song, like silence, like breathing.

 

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