First of all, I’m happy to say that I talked to some friends at church about my blog today, and they thought it was a really good idea, were interested in reading it, and were looking forward to contributing their own thoughts and experiences too! Also, my priest and his wife were very supportive, and I think we can look forward to some contributions from them as well. Yay!
Today was a really wonderful day!!! We essentially spent the whole day in church activities. After Liturgy and coffee hour, our teen youth group (SOYO) headed downtown to Glowing Greens, a black light indoor 3D Pirate miniature golf course. BLACK LIGHT 3D PIRATE MINIATURE GOLF!?!? How about it? Everyone had a great time AND I’d like to extend a personal note of congratulations to our very own Hannah, who had the winning score of 66 – way to go Hannah! After our BLACK LIGHT 3D PIRATE MINIATURE GOLF experience, we went to a great little Italian joint, known as Giuseppe’s (my son’s name is Joey – that’s Giuseppe in Italian – just saying). The kids had some pizza and soda and talked over SOYO business, which includes the sponsorship of an orphan in Lebanon, a basketball game against our Parish Council and our next outing, tentatively planned to serve lunch at St. Francis Dining Hall.
Finally, after the meeting was concluded, we returned to the church for the very first service of the Lenten season – Forgiveness Vespers. This was also the very first time I’d ever attended this service. And what a lovely service it was!
Here is an excerpt from the service, that rather nicely sums it up, I think:
“Thy grace hath risen, O Lord, the illumination of our souls hath shone forth. Lo, now is the acceptable time; the season of repentance hath come. Let us cast down the works of darkness and put on the works of light, that we may pass the great tempest of fasting and reach the summit of the third-day Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Savior of our souls.”
What a beautiful idea, to cast down the works of darkness and put on the works of light. And so, at the end of the service, we lined up one by one, bowing before each other and asking for forgiveness:
“Forgive me, a sinner. Forgive me, a sinner. God forgives. God forgives.”
As I was listening to the service, I was thinking about the beauty of the ritual of forgiveness, and then, I thought about people in my life that I have actually been MAD AT. And I wondered, could I move beyond the ritual of forgiveness and into actual forgiveness? Not those easy, token words we throw out when people say I’m sorry.
“No problem. Don’t worry about it. It’s ok.”
But the actual forgiveness of not holding a grudge, or recalling a past slight when it’s repeated, or nurturing the resentment that fuels my feelings of self-righteousness. The answer is, I don’t know. But I want to try. It’s something to pray for, because I think it won’t be easy. And I won’t be able to do it on my own. And so on this, the very last day before the very first day of the Lenten season, I found my very first prayer.
“Lord, help me to truly forgive.”