Let the blogging continue.
Easter Sunday in the two church calendar traditions has just a 1 week difference this year. Ash Wednesday happened during Pancake Week in Russia.
Yesterday was "Forgiveness Sunday" in the Orthodox Church, marking the final day before the Lenten Fast. You can look it up, but it's meant to be a day of repentance and asking other people for forgiveness. Sometimes I might get a text from an Orthodox friend saying "I'm sorry, please forgive me if I've wronged you." In the age of social media, people make general posts saying they're sorry if they've offended anyone.
I like the idea of making relationships right. I don't like ignoring the elephant in the room. I mean, there are generic apologies and there are specific wrongs that no one acknowledges. I did see some of my local friends lamenting publicly. But we are not really allowed to comment at this point, so, I just pray that those who are repentant for their part will follow their convictions to act accordingly, and receive the gift of forgiveness.
I have a mom friend in the neighborhood. Lena is her name. We bump into each other once a month or so and actually talk to each other! I can't take credit for the friendliness though, because I noticed that she knows everyone and asks how each person is doing.
But anyway...Lena is a bit older than me and has a new baby! I was excited to spot them recently with a baby buggy instead of burgeoning belly. She even let us take a peek, which is a no-no sometimes in Russian culture due to superstition. No showing the baby's face initially.
Lena told me about her disappointment visiting church a few days before. She paid the offering amount to get a few candles and light them, with the understanding that her prayer requests would be voiced. But someone extinguished her candles after just a few minutes. Then she was trying to pray and meditate and another member of the church staff approached and invited her to give another offering. And she said she just never got that peace of feeling that her prayers were actually heard.
Trying not to sound prideful, I said that at our church, needs are prayed for right away, out loud. So we do get that feeling of our burdens being shared and lifted up to God. We also have quiet time for repentance at each service. So while I mentioned Forgiveness Sunday, it's something that we incorporate each week.
In Russia, it's against the law to proselytize. But I can at least share my own faith journey. As we said goodbye, Lena asked me my name. We parted knowing each other's names, for the first time.