Forgiveness Vespers

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.”


About LeilaPiazza

I am a wife and mother. I am an Orthodox Christian. I am a Syrian American with family living in Syria. I am a also a yoga teacher and freelance writer. I recently described myself in a job pitch as "a person who's lived in Portland, Oregon for over 20 years with a passion for writing and a passion for all things Portland. I'm a foodie, knitter, wine and beer lover, bee-keeper (yep, I said it), mead and fruit-liqueur maker, organic gardener, home-canner, hiker, biker, runner, and occasional skinny-dipper. I’ve camped all over the state, I sail a sailboat that’s moored on the Columbia (o.k., I'm the first mate), and I spend a large percentage of my time at our beach house in Seaside." That about sums it up.
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4 Responses to Forgiveness Vespers

  1. black light, 3-d and pirates…after awhile they are just showing off.

  2. Leila says:

    yeah, I didn’t wanna say. Still, it WAS pretty cool!

    • Leila says:

      yeah, I agree. Usually, (and unfortunately) AFTER I’ve moved through and expressed my anger, I see the other person and can be compassionate towards them. The trick I think, is moving to compassion without the little angry rant that usually precedes it. Sometimes I succeed. More often, I don’t. But I have an awareness and hey, that’s something. It’s a start. I think when I was younger, I felt like my anger was really justified. I remember telling my priest that and comparing myself to Christ (no low self-esteem issue for Leila, apparently) when he got angry in the temple and destroyed it. But Father was quick to point out that Christ’s motivations were much less complicated than mine, and also, him being PERFECT and all, kind of set him apart and made me not quite like him. Which was an excellent point, I must concede. Anyway, I think I’ve grown in that I’m much less likely now to feel justified when I start raging. So that is something. Finally, I like what you said about anger being a double-edged sword. Christ said that when we hold on to our anger, it’s like carrying that person around on our backs. They are heavy, the burden is heavy on us. The target of our anger may be completely unaware of it and floating through life, la la la la la, and yet, here we are, walking around with 200 lbs. on our backs.

  3. goblinbox says:

    Anger, it is said, is a double-edged sword. It cuts both people. Forgiveness is a habit, I think, a method of behavior that eventually becomes the impenetrable calm of true compassion. Oh, this person is behaving miserably, s/he must be very unhappy, in pain, perhaps. My responding with anger at their angry words would accomplish nothing.

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