Well... it's been 48 hours since I asked for comments about how to hold your opposites intact... about how to be passionate about things you feel strongly about and also be at peace in your heart. No one commented. No. One. Maybe no one knows how to do this. Or maybe you're all just ready for me to SHUT UP AND PRAY. With a nod to Natalie Maines.... who was told in BIG WAYS to Shut Up and Sing.) Yes, I really like the Dixie Chicks... and I believe in freedom of speech. But I also believe in being respectful. I'm not saying that I always am respectful, but that I want to be. And that's where we begin to repent. By the way, this isn't an anti-war post... although I've always been pretty-much anti-war at heart... but I'm not smart enough or informed enough to know what is the Right Thing To Do concerning the war on terror. I have two sons in the military. This one, Warrant Office Jon Cushman, flies helicopters for the Army and has already done a year in Iraq. He will deploy again in January. Another BIG reason for me to Shut Up and Pray, don't you think?
But first... here's what I did on Monday night: since the Orthodox Nativity Fast begins TODAY (40 days without meat and dairy products, and limits on fish, wine and oil on other days) ... my illogical brain tells my tummy to EAT MEAT QUICKLY ... to "store up" or something irrational like that. So, like they say in the Army, GO BIG OR GO HOME. We went to Ruth's Chris. This is what it looked like and sounded like.
I was happy to learn that I was in good company regarding pre-fast gourmandizing... I read my good friend, Erin Moulton's blog post here (it's really a good blog about the Orthodox practice of fasting in general, recipes, etc.) and felt as though I had been given permission to be human.
The thing about the Nativity Fast that makes it more difficult in some ways than Great Lent is that the rest of the world is already celebrating Christmas when Orthodox Christians are trying to PREPARE for it... with fasting and special church services and giving alms. We celebrate from Christmas Day through the Theophany (January 6) ... rather than celebrating from Halloween until Christmas... or New Year's. It's where the Twelve Days of Christmas got its origin.
So... I went to Confession today. Yep. The Sacrament of Forgiveness. Great way to start a Fast... with the best human effort one can make towards being at peace with yourself and others. In the Orthodox Church it's not a juridical thing... it's not about making up for breaking rules. It's therapeutic. The Church is the Hospital. My soul is sick. The Sacraments are for its healing. I feel better already. Ready to make nice. Even with magazine editors.