It’s funny to think about our spiritual lives in terms of planning. Spirituality, at least in our culture these days, is something sort of emotional, fleeting, and ephemeral. It is like the muse of a poet–it comes when it will.
But here’s the secret: the poet shows up every day to write poetry, whether the muse visits them or not. Likewise, you have to show up every day to work out your salvation, whether a grand spiritual epiphany visits you or not.
So, for Lent, I’ve drawn up a plan for myself and my family, in my own small way, to make room for spiritual growth. Growth doesn’t happen if you don’t prepare the ground, gather seeds to sow, and watch the weather.
Prayer: I will pray the prayer of St. Ephraim every day during Lent. My children will do so with me in the evenings before bedtime. More prayer, more closeness with God.
Fasting: I will decide how to increase my fasting discipline with the help of my spiritual father, and communicate with my children each week as we plan our menu — our foods will shift during Lent to accomodate everyone’s level of discipline and nutritional needs
Almsgiving: I will dedicate myself to giving of my time, talent, and treasure to specific projects during the Lenten season. We will spend our time as a family preparing the church’s garden. I will donate some design work to the church at large. We will all give out of our allowances to a communal piggy bank, and write a check to the church for Pascha.
And there you have it. Showing up is to do work isn’t as glamorous or exciting mountaintop experience, but with fear and trembling, you’ll get somewhere in the end.