“The best laid schemes of mice and men…” “To a Mouse,” by Robert Burns
I have always loved that quote. There is another one I like, too:
Why, I am sure you are wondering, am I bringing this up? Well, it is Holy Week. And I normally am bustling around getting prepared for Sunday – Easter – Pascha. Opening our home and celebrating the Resurrection of Christ! And part of Easter is just the time of the year. We get to wash our windows, put our screens back on, and open the windows. We get to enjoy sunshine until something close to 10pm every night. And things are blooming everywhere. Not this year! Yep. Snow. And it started last night with rain and as of this afternoon, we had about 6″ of snow on the ground. Only it is still snowing. And snowing. And snowing. Can’t wash windows. Can’t put on my screens or open windows. It is snowing so hard right now, I can barely make out the trees in our back yard.
This has been happening all day long. A friend commented, “Oh no. Snow in Alaska!” And I get it. We live in Alaska. But darn it, it is almost Easter! We relocated to Alaska six years ago this month. And by Mother’s Day that May (just a couple of weeks later), we had blizzard conditions. So it should not surprise me. But I made plans. See…?
The first photo is of all the plants I wanted to lay out in the yard or in pots, even one of those magnetic screen doors for our back door. And in the pot on the right? That is my baby blueberry plant. Needed to get it into soil, but it is not strong enough to survive a freeze yet. So, it gets to hang out in my dining room. I mean, it is April. And we are supposed to be having Spring. So I was ready. And God is laughing at me. Cracking up.
I have been doing this wonderful Lenten study using “Songs of Praise, A Psalter Devotional for Orthodox Women,” by Sylvia Leontaritis. (Do yourself a favor and buy this book. Click here). I love this book so much. The Psalms are just magnificent, if you give them the time and attention they deserve. But at the end of each group of Psalms, or Kathisma, Sylvia gave us some very good devotional reflections, which have really affected me. My goal for Lent was to embrace simplicity in all areas of my life, as well as to embrace a quieter lifestyle. Less noise. Less chaos. “Take control of the things you grant entrance to your heart.” (Page 189) That quote has been huge for me. What am I allowing into my life? My heart? What is taking up my time? “A woman’s home is a reflection of her heart.” (Page 208). Wow. What does my home say about me? Is it a haven? Is is a place of peace, comfort, and prayer? “Have you ever asked yourself what do you do differently than an unbeliever? How will the world know Christ if those of us who call ourselves Christians are no different from those who worship at the altar of the world?” (Page 225) This also struck me. How am I different? In how I treat others? What I say to them? How do I serve God in the world??? And quotes like, “Our shortcomings should humble us.” on page 242 or …”we have to remember the healing power of being still…” on page 259. Her entire reflection on “Unsocial Media” (pages 312-315) were the most profound for me, because this is where I struggle. This is where I find myself being pulled by the world. This is where I am my most vulnerable. “It takes constant effort to not fall down the rabbit hole.” Boy, does it ever! “Accept that your life does not need hundreds of likes or comments to confirm that your life is good.” And that is where I am today. She goes on to say this, “Decide which life is really worth investing in – your spiritual life or your virtual one – and then fill it with the things that truly make your heart happy. If we struggle to fill our lives with good and spiritual things and constantly have prayer on our lips, there will be no room left for the unholy.”
Because I have been quieter, and more reflective, and because I am choosing what I allow into my heart, a little hiccup like an “un-called-for-snow-storm-when-I-planned-to-prepare-for-Pascha (Easter)” sort of day truly does not derail me anymore. Instead, I re-read some Psalms and reflections and my journaling, and I prayed longer. I caught up with friends. I spoke to my brother and we enjoyed ourselves, laughing at memories of childhood. I was not in a hurry to catch-up to my made-up calendar in my mind. I can still pull off Easter dinner. The Lamb and Ham can still be prepared in a snow storm. Driving will stink. Getting around town will be more of a chore. But it is NOTHING when I look at where my Lord is walking this week. Where His suffering is this week. Where we will walk together on Good Friday: “We adore Thee, O Christ, and we bless Thee because by Thy Holy Cross Thou has Redeemed the World.”
And we will rejoice on Sunday, like every Easter Sunday, snow or sun, rain or shine. God never breaks His promises. But I am sure He cracks up when we make plans. Or sends us snow storms. I think He sent this snow to help me with my stillness and silence. He so knows what I need. Thanks be to God. Blessed Holy Week, my friends.