Can an angel change? I have spent all week thinking about my pride, and if that's what makes me dare to sass God. I thought about how the publican debased himself which reminded me of how God lowered Himself to become human. Humility must be a common denominator between man and God, the place where Father and child meet.
I think that when men try to show off their power, which compared to God's power is absurd, they become trajectories blasting away from Him.
Somewhere in all this thinking I vowed to try to control my attitude. Who knows how much more I could be loved if I didn't love myself so much?
But why would I want to become humble? I don't have to worry about Hades or death. There is nothing threatening me, and there is no reward of paradise to lure me.
The only thing I have in common with humanity, well, some of them, is that I love God. Perhaps simply to please Him I should want to be more respectful and not irritate Him as I often do. After all, I do believe that God is amazing! He is unique among all the powers of the heavens, light-years ahead in brilliance of mind and thought, and compassion and love. I love Him for Who He is and I love Him for His amazing acts.
"If you love Him so much, then why don't you ever show it? In fact, why do you do the exact opposite sometimes?"
"Who said that?"
Poppy flew up to me in the dome without greeting, as lacking in social graces as when she had disappeared without saying good-bye many months ago.
"Poppy if you were listening, you would have heard me vow to change, to become humble. I want God to be proud of me. Maybe He has tolerated me this long because He was waiting for me to repent. Well, I haven't done it yet, but I want to try."
"Stick around then," said Poppy. "The Bride will show you the steps to take. You weren't here, but the Sunday before last, the Gospel lesson that preceded the Triodion was about a short man named Zacchaeus who was so eager to see Jesus that he made a fool of himself by climbing a tree. When Jesus noticed Zacchaeus He honored him. Maybe God will notice how eager you are to become humble. Desire to be near God is the very first step into the Lenten period of metamorphosis! Have you ever seen a caterpillar become a butterfly?"
"No. That sounds impossible." I replied.
"It is fantastic but real! The Triodion season is a cocoon. By the time it is over you too can be one hundred times more beautiful, spiritually of course, than you are now. Sh, let's be quiet, here come the people."
Poppy had given me even more fodder for thought, and as much as I wanted to fly around and contemplate it all, I controlled myself and picked a spot in the balcony pew to hover over, pretending I was human. The chanters and priest, the altar boys and deacons, and the parishioners one by one took their positions filling that sacred space with their holy spirits. This manifestation of the Bride as a building, especially this building which was becoming so familiar to me, suddenly felt like a mother's womb, or a cocoon where my transformation could occur.
About an hour later, so agitated by my thoughts that my self-control vanished, I took off to fly around the large volume of space knowing that no one could see me, and only a few of the people could perceive me. My whirring mind had made it impossible for me to sit still. I needed to stop thinking, but I didn't stop listening while flying figure-eights and somersaults. Looking closely at the mosaic of Saint Barbara in the balcony it seemed as if each little tile was a gigantic cell that God used to form her.
When the time for the gospel reading came Poppy flew over to me. "Stop flying now and listen. The second Sunday of the Triodion is about to tell you the next step. Pay attention."
Today, the shorter and older priest brought the Book out and read, "Then Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’ So he divided his property between them. A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.”’ So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate.
“Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’ Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’ Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’"
After the reading the priest closed the Book, turned around, and went back into his cave while Poppy said, "This story tells the people when they miss the mark that God gave them in the Law and in Jesus commands, they are drifting away from God farther into a mean and insecure world.
Today in the Bride's year suggests that children of God return to their Father from that world out there that is so very full of foolish people pretending they are powerful. It's like a suggestion that Adam and Eve try to return to Paradise where they last saw God, their Maker."
Then Poppy added, "For the humble publican, his modesty already made him close to the Father. But the Pharisee is oblivious to ever having left, much like the Prodigal Son's brother, who did not leave physically, but who with his pride, alienated himself from his family!"
Poppy's eyes grew wide with fear as she still fretted over the condition of the Pharisee.
I tried to comfort her by saying, "Come on Poppy, they are only stories. Relax!"
The Bride's Procession to The Great Lent -