Kontakion of the Prodigal Son
O Father, foolishly I ran away from Your glory, and in sin, squandered the riches You gave me. Wherefore, I cry out to You with the voice of the Prodigal, “I have sinned before You Compassionate Father. Receive me in repentance and take me as one of Your hired servants.”
At worship today, the hymn above was sung. For the Orthodox, the three-week period of preparation for Lent (the Triodion) is in its second week. All of a sudden, I began to feel that Lenten breeze begin to flow over me. All of a sudden, I knew that I was that foolish son who, “ran away from Your glory, and in sin, squandered the riches You gave me.” And, as in so many years before I again became grateful for this period of Lent. I became grateful again that the Church asks us to keep this period of Lent for the sake of our souls.
Every year I arrive at this period realizing that my life has again been muddied by sin during the last year. I am like that window in the house that gets dirty over time, until you finally notice it. And, then, you look at it and realize that it is not only dirty, but it even has spider webs in the corner and dead bugs on the sill. Lent draws our attention to the dirty windows in our life. Lent helps us to see the spider webs and the dead bugs on the sill. In other words, Lent sensitizes us to those sins in our life to which we have become desensitized. Lent opens our eyes to our blind spots.
I do not know why this year the Lenten breeze has begun to flow so early in my life. I suspect that this means that God wants to get my attention a little more strongly this year. Hopefully, not like C.S. Lewis had Aslan doing to Eustace Scrubb in Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
“The water was as clear as anything and I thought if I could get in there and bathe it would ease the pain in my leg. but the lion told me I must undress first. Mind you, I don’t know if he said any words out loud or not.
I was just going to say that I couldn’t undress because I hadn’t any clothes on when I suddenly thought that dragons are snaky sort of things and snakes can cast their skins. Oh, of course, thought I, that’s what the lion means. So I started scratching myself and my scales began coming off all over the place. And then I scratched a little deeper and , instead of just scales coming off here and there, my whole skin started peeling off beautifully, like it does after an illness, or as if I was a banana. In a minute or two I just stepped out of it. I could see it lying there beside me, looking rather nasty. It was a most lovely feeling. So I started to go down into the well for my bathe.
But just as I was going to put my feet into the water I looked down and saw that they were all hard and rough and wrinkled and scaly just as they had been before. Oh, that’s all right, said I, it only means I had another smaller suit on underneath the first one, and I’ll have to get out of it too. So I scratched and tore again and this underskin peeled off beautifully and out I stepped and left it lying beside the other one and went down to the well for my bathe.
Well, exactly the same thing happened again. And I thought to myself, oh dear, however many skins have I got to take off? For I was longing to bathe my leg. So I scratched away for the third time and got off a third skin, just like the two others, and stepped out of it. But as soon as I looked at myself in the water I knew it had been no good.
The the lion said – but I don’t know if it spoke – ‘You will have to let me undress you.’ I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.
The very first tear he made was do deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. You know – if you’ve ever picked the scab of a sore place. It hurts like billy-oh but it is such fun to see it coming away.
Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off – just as I thought I’d done it myself the other three times, only they hadn’t hurt – and there it was lying on the grass: only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly looking than the others had been. And there was I as smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been.
If God is going to do to me like above, it might be a long Lent. But, the end will be worth it.