I’ll go ahead and be the first to admit that I don’t have it all together. I suffer from mild depression, anxiety, and I’m on the autistic spectrum. I should also mention that I’m lazy and easily distracted. I sometimes swear like a sailor, thanks in part to my trucking lifestyle. I’ve also found that I don’t always keep a consistent prayer rule. I have a hard time following any fast, especially when I’m over the road. So as much as I try to be involved and live my faith, in a lot of ways I feel like I’m still standing on the sideline watching as an active observer.
Lent this year has been an interesting one. With the coronavirus sweeping the nation and everybody going into lockdown, my job went into overdrive. Suddenly there was more freight to move and as people got sick including other drivers, the race to get that freight delivered got even hotter. 11 hour days, every day. All the highway miles that a driver could ask for! And when I actually got home, there was several days past-due hubby work waiting for me. I guess that’s the problem with being away from home for weeks at a time, everything backs up until you get back home.
So in all of this, where was the time that I made for my faith? I had plenty of time when I was driving to listen to an audiobook or a couple live services through the Ancient Faith radio app right? What excuse could I possibly have for not tending to the garden of my soul? One word, distractions.
Okay more like two words. Distractions, and laziness. One of the issues associated with my mild form of autistic spectrum disorder is my ability to hyper-focus. With that, new and exciting interests (distractions) will come and go like the waning moon. When I get focused on something that’s interesting to me, I will give it my soul attention and focus on it until I get bored of it and move on. Instead of finishing that awesome audiobook by Frederica Mathewes-Green, I somehow got sucked into a Homebrew Dungeons & Dragons style podcast. Sure it was exciting and entertaining, but did it do anything to help me prepare for Pascha? How about all those times when I wasn’t driving and instead of picking up my orthodox psalter or my OSB, I instead played Pokemon on my phone or watched Star Trek via Netflix? Don’t get me wrong I can talk it up with the greatest of trekkies and I can be quite the poke nerd when the interest comes around. But the things that are truly important get left behind as I allow my distractions to take hold.
Lent didn’t hit me until Monday night. I knew that Holy Week had started and my initial reaction was oh that’s exciting. Then I moved on like it didn’t really matter. But then Monday night I was attacked in my dreams. I had one of the worst dreams that I’ve ever had in a long, long time. In my dream I was walking through an opalescent canyon that glowed with bright reds and oranges. Picture the desert of southwest Arizona at sunset. Desert sand shifting under my feet with each step. Out in the distance like a mirage dancing in the wind was a person from my past, someone that I once cared very deeply for. This person, or actually this memory was nothing more than a temptation, a temptation that nearly cost me my marriage two years ago.
My wife stood behind me in the distance calling my name, trying to get me to turn around. Littered all around me on the desert floor were my son’s toys. Most of them were broken or mangled with a random container of mac and cheese or other toddler appropriate snacks lying about. In order to reach the Temptation I was going to have to walk through the wreckage that represented my family. I didn’t walk forward but I didn’t walk backwards either. Instead I looked up towards the heavens and cried out for God’s help. Then I woke up. I was confused and angry, with my heart racing several beats faster than normal. My wife and I are already stressed because of a family situation, and to have this temptation rear its ugly head again… well let’s just say that the timing could have been better. I now know that it was nothing more than an attack by the evil one and have resumed saying prayers before going to bed.
My go to relief for spiritual troubles, especially when I’m on the road, isn’t my study Bible. It’s actually my Orthodox psalter. Opening up that thick black book and reading the words of King David, provides me with the spiritual ointment needed to sooth the aches and pains of my soul. In a way it helps me reconnect and to remember that which is really important.
Several things happened to me today. Little things not all at once, but when put together they provided a clear and direct message. First it was a friend’s post regarding his own struggles with recognizing that the Passion was now here. Then while hanging icons up on the inside of my truck I recognized that feeling of being watched. And then finally while I was walking to the the office door in order to get my paperwork for dispatch, I noticed on the ground a little plant growing out of the gravel that was in the thin space separating the two chunks of concrete. I know it was just a weed, but the thought struck me that even in the space where growth was not probable, this little guy found a space to thrive. If that little weed could thrive with what little it had, then how much more can I live if I actually use what I’ve been given?
St John chrysostom said in his Paschal homily “If anyone has arrived even at the eleventh hour, let him not fear on account of his delay. For the Master is gracious and receives the last, even as the first; he gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour, just as to him who has labored from the first. He has mercy upon the last and cares for the first; to the one he gives, and to the other he is gracious. He both honors the work and praises the intention.“
Looks like it’s time for my eleventh hour entry. looks like it’s time for my 11th Hour entry.
Thanks for reading my friends. I hope you all have a blessed and wonderful rest of your Holy Week and I look forward to being able to shout with all of you the good news about Christ’s Resurrection.
Until next time