For those of you that haven't noticed, I've had just a tad of stress lately. This morning I was in the car on the way to drop something off at church on the way to work on the way to see John for dinner when I heard a song on the radio that made me feel much better - an old Beatles song - Let it Be.
The song is based on the words of the Mother of our Lord to the Archangel Gabriel when she was told about the Child that she would bear: Let it be to me as you have said. The song also makes me think of something St. Silouan said: "The soul that is given over to the will of God fears nothing, neither thunder nor thieves nor any such thing. Whatever may come, 'Such is God's pleasure,' she says. If she falls sick she thinks, 'This means that I need sickness, or God would not have sent it.'"
St. Silouan and the Beatles always help me take a deep breath, get a grip, and put things back in perspective. As I've said here before: God is all-good, all-knowing, and all-powerful, so whatever happens to me is for my eternal good. Not necessarily for my comfort or enjoyment, but what is best for me. We are all like children being taken for vaccinations - we think something terrible is happening to us because it hurts, but it is really a brief discomfort that will save us from much worse things later. (No debates about vaccinations. I remember polio epidemics, and was in the line for the first polio vaccines. I'm old.)
Whatever God sends is what I really need. My head always knows that; my tummy knows it most of the time. It's a bit slow about some things.
Great Lent in the Orthodox Church started at sundown last Sunday. It's a fast period, which for Orthodox means basically eating vegan until Pascha (which falls a week after Western Easter this year). Fasting isn't an onerous burden but a privilege, an opportunity to enter more deeply into Lent and into God, a wonderful spiritual medicine for our souls. So I began the fast with the rest of the Orthodox world. And by this morning I was exhausted. I realized that this year, with the aforesaid stress, I just couldn't do it. It makes me very sad to miss this part of the season. But I realize that this year I need to just do the asceticism - spiritual training and labor - that God has laid on me. And that is enough.
I saw Father Matthew at the church and told him all of this, and he gave me his blessing for not fasting. (Actually, he looked at me like I'd sprouted antennae when I told him I was trying to fast under these circumstances.) (One of the wonderful things about being Orthodox is that you don't have to decide these things on your own or re-invent the wheel - you make these decisions under the guidance of your spiritual father.) (I also think parentheses are wonderful.)
Tonight it's dark and rainy, and the wind is howing outside. It shakes the house so that the dog growls at it. I try not to growl at the winds God sends to shake my life; I know I will be better for the shaking. I can hear Bob Seeger singing about seeking shelter against the wind; I know that I have that Shelter and can be at peace. I can let it be. And know that it is what my soul needs, or God would not have sent it.