Presvytera Vassi Makris Haros is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati's College of Design, Art, Architecture & Planning and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. She is the owner, designer and photographer of V’s Cardbox, In Service and Love. a greeting card company featuring cards with an Orthodox voice. She strongly feels that experiencing the Orthodox Faith through the church’s cyclical calendar of feasts and fasts is a gift that is too often overlooked.
I received a pair of gray and black patent leather cowboy boots for my fortieth birthday. They were a gift from my mother-in-law. She thought cowboy boots would serve as a reminder of what American grit can accomplish and that I once lived in Colorado. I loved wearing them—that is until the heel broke. For the past few months they waited, slouched over with a detached heel, near the door to my garage waiting to catch a ride to the cobbler to be repaired. They even made it to the trunk just in case I was out that way only to be removed for more trunk space. Eventually, I became tired of seeing these once beautiful boots in such a sad state, so I took them purposefully to be repaired.
I handed the man my broken boots. Seeing them engulfed by his dry, mangled fingers gave me comfort. I could see his hands had experience in this type of work. I told him what they meant to me, that this past weekend we remembered my mother in law’s 5-year memorial and how the cost for repair was worth the joy of wearing them again. As he filled out the paperwork, he shared a story with me.
Earlier that week a gentleman brought in an old, well-worn pair of army boots. He said they were his father’s, and he wanted them restored. In their conversation, the young man mentioned his father was given a few weeks to live and wanted the boots repaired. The cobbler told me that he offered to polish the dying man’s dress shoes for the funeral, but the son declined the offer. He said it was the father’s wish to be dressed in his fatigues, like a soldier in the field. He wanted Christ to see him in uniform when he reached heaven, as a servant of Our Lord. He was going to be in God’s army now. I imagine he wanted his family to remember him that way as well.
As I walked towards my car, repeating the story I just heard, it dawned on me. We need more cobblers and fewer retailers. We need more seamstresses and fewer catalogs. We need more repairing and less replacing. I imagine fewer people are experiencing Lent with prayer, fasting and almsgiving because they don’t know what it means to repair anything. Everything broken is replaced with new. We’ve lost the art of restoration, and this spills into our spiritual life.
Lent is a time of restoration. It’s a season when we offer ourselves to be repaired. We empty ourselves and make room for Christ. Fasting, prayer and almsgiving are all tools of the trade when it comes to spiritual maintenance. But if we aren’t used to repairing what is broken, if we just replace things when they are no longer a use for us, how will we make that association when we are spiritually broken? Most of us, when we are spiritually broken, just live with it. We forgive ourselves. We cry out “No regrets!” or “God must have had a plan.” But we are not repaired. We are not restored.
During these last few weeks of Lent, I encourage you to seek out a spiritual craftsman, a priest. Ask for his guidance and rule of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Allow him to hear your confession and to pray the forgiveness prayers over you that you too may be restored.
This is the season. This is the time. It’s not too late to participate in the blessing of the Lent. You have until we start singing “Christ is risen!”
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