Heading into Great and Holy Lent

Lent is but a week away, and I’ve already made a screwy mess of the pre-Lenten weeks. Some Christians add more prayers to their Lenten experience. With the way my life has gone, I’m focusing on just adding prayer. How can I think about trying to pray the Akathist to the Theotokos, when I can’t even pray the Trisagion on a daily basis? Bill Murray’s Bob had a mantra which is mine: baby steps. I’m nearing forty, have been a Christian for thirty-three of those years, and I’m still doing baby steps. Maybe this Lent I will finally make those baby steps a habit, indeed, a prayer life.

The thing about it, a solid prayer life is not difficult. I’m not talking about observing the daily office in each of its eight installments. One can simply prayer the Trisagion on arising, at lunch, and before bed. For all three, maybe about ten minutes of total prayer time. Tops. Not. That. Hard.

Or, at least, it wouldn’t be that hard, except I have a heart that is not focused on the Lord and is easily distracted by so many things. The typical Lenten fast is related to food. For me, whatever else Fr Pat will have us do this Lent, I need to fast from distractions. My online life can get pretty fragmented: message boards and blogs can take up a lot of time, even if it’s just bites (or bytes, tee hee) here and there. My life outside of work is rather busy, with teaching two nights a week, caring for the girls, daily chores to help in, finances to look after. Much of it is important or unavoidable (dishes need washed, laundry cleaned), but some of it is simply distraction. We don’t hardly watch any television. Our set is used mostly for videos for the girls. But how easy it is to lose an hour. Better to trade that hour on the important, like patristic/devotional reading.

For me, it’s not so much that I waste too much time, but that I am not focused. Whereas I might intend to read another book of Aristotle’s Metaphysics, and Reale’s commentary on it, or I might intend to meditate on some patristic passage, but I’ll instead be distracted by something else, and find the opportunity and the time has disappeared.

So, this Lent I just need simply to focus on the first things, and let the distractions fall to the wayside.

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