I've never been one for moderation.
In almost every area of my life, I tend to go for the extreme measure. I try extreme diets, extreme makeovers. My first flight was to Russia. Not somewhere close to home, but Russia, half way across the world (a country also given to extremes, come to think). I never dated casually--I was always all in from the start. I make big plans, and then crash spectacularly when they fail. I am often at odds with myself.
I joined the Orthodox Church, which was extreme at the time, given my upbringing. And the Orthodox Church, it must be said, has many extreme elements--big liturgy, hard core fasting, and big time feasting. We have big vestments, high hats for clergy, big soaring choirs, and intensely long services. We also have small intimate services with a group of chanters and candlelight.
Great Lent is one of those times of extremis. Much is expected of us during Lent. We are to fast more strictly and for longer than any other time of the year. We attend many extra services, and try to limit our social engagements during this season. Lent requires a pretty extreme effort in order to truly enter into it and thus be prepared for the Resurrection of Christ on Pascha morning. As a person who loves extremes, Lent is always an interesting time for me. I tend to swing around wildly--first committing to extreme fasting (or not), and then failing, then trying to recommit (and usually failing that too). I try to cut out the white noise, and don't usually succeed there either. When I was single, it was easier. Even when I was married without children, it was easier. With three small children underfoot, one of whom has chronic health issues, it is hard to tone down the noise in my head (and in my house). I don't feel very well myself these days, and as I sit on the eve of Great Lent, having stayed home from church for illness for the umpteenth time since E was born, I am thinking more about moderation.
I want this Lent to be something for me, mostly because I feel so utterly deflated inside. I am all done in, as the British say. I don't remember what normal feels like, and desperately want to recover it. My first thoughts about what this Lent should be for me were, as usual, extreme. I've read a few articles about total fasting in the last few days, and to not eat for several weeks seems appealing and appalling at the same time. What if I could really kick the demon of gluttony once and for all? What if I could make my pain go away? I know that one day of fasting for a medical procedure was incredibly difficult; how on earth can I contemplate a week or more of such lunacy? I still need to parent my children, and to be strong enough to carry them around. I need to have calcium so that the stress fracture in my foot will heal properly and in good time. How can I think of this? I know it is extreme, and I know I can't think of this. I need to put it out of my head and remember: moderation. It is also tempting to throw my hands in the air and to just forget the whole thing. I'm unwell, my food allergies are still in a fairly extreme state, I'm still fighting for a full postpartum recovery, and maybe this isn't the year to attempt anything this season. But again, I have to remind myself: moderation. Instead of contemplating extreme measures, which are sure to fail, given my mental and physical state right now, small measures would be a better step in the right direction.
So my resolution for this Lent? Small measures. Instead of making big plans, and then flaming out in a big way, I am going to take baby steps. Maybe I'll fail, but at least with small steps, I don't have far to fall, but I don't have far to get back up again either. Perhaps by the time Pascha arrives this year, I can look back on these 46 days and say, I have fought the good fight, and I am winning the race, one small step at a time. And if not, I can take small steps to pick myself back up and keep on walking.