There’s nothing spectacular about this picture of Jared and the dog. It isn’t even recent. Two years old, in fact. I just happened to be looking for something else in the picture files and ran across it. When Lonna got a new camera for Christmas, she didn’t know that the date was incorrectly set to 2010. So, all the pictures she took were randomly placed by the camera software in the folders already established with pictures we actually did take in 2010. She still hasn’t changed it, so finding a picture is kind of like a mix between a journey down memory lane and the most annoying scavenger hunt ever.
Poor, pitiful Jared. This picture stuck out to me, because he just looks so peaceful, and his baby soft complexion (without a trace of a facial hair, he’s sorry to say) shines. Not at all like the Jared of 2012. He is well into his third week of fighting scarlet fever. I admit, I had no idea what scarlet fever was until three weeks ago. I thought it was one of those old-time illnesses that was crushed by the mighty blow of the discovery of penicillin. Nope, it’s alive and well. Scarlet fever is that old nemesis strep. Strep gone wild all over your skin. It started out as a blotch here and a blotch there. A bit of a fever. A yuckiness. A stomach ache. Soon, he was knocked on his butt with sickness and became one giant rash. Just what every teenage boy wants…something that makes everyone stare at your face. Now, he wishes for those days. The rash is long gone. He’s in the peeling stage. Parts of him peeled like a sunburn. Other parts, like the palms of his hands, have skin coming off in what can only be described as chunks. And then yesterday, as a further insult, he came down with pink eye. Did I say how pitiful the poor guy is?
He has missed eleven days of school. Eleven…unbelievable. He has missed social events and family events and pretty much everything else you can think of. But the worst for him has been missing all those church services that heralded the beginning of Lent. No Forgiveness Vespers change of robes from gold to purple. No Presanctified in the candlelight. No Akathist rejoicing. No Sunday of Orthodoxy proclamation of triumph. Jared loves church, because he loves to serve God in the altar. He’s always there. Always. Even if we’re not. Missing is a huge deal for him.
So, to have these services taken away has been a humbling lesson for him and me both. A friend mentioned that not being in church has become Jared’s fast during this season. So true. It’s making us both think about prayer and worship. Jared loves to be at church, and so do I, but do we love God as much as we love church? We ache to miss a service, but do we ache to miss God in the daily moments?
I told Jared that this is a great opportunity. It is a gift to see that he doesn’t need an appointed time and place to worship. Worshiping God in illness is the stuff of a multitude of prostrations. He doesn’t need certain sights and smells and sounds to lead his heart to prayer. Finding God in the stillness is an awesome pleasure.
Lent is a time of so much more, even when more comes dressed in less. As I watch my child struggle back to health, I thank God for the lessons I’m learning through his journey. How every soul needs to praise in suffering to truly taste the sweetness of rejoicing. How having what you thought was important taken away shows you where the value truly lies. Not in the doing or the going, but in the being and the resting in the presence of God. The God Who is truly everywhere and fills all things. With that in mind and heart, all the world is a holy place and all of life is an altar. How sweet it will be for Jared to worship God again in His sanctuary. All the sweeter for realizing and appreciating the sanctuary of his own heart.