In general, a Christian perceives fasting as a time for growth, intense prayer, and active participation in church life. We also perceive fasting as a time when we can change something in our life and transform ourselves. This is right, of course.
However, a person cannot be in a state of constant tension: both physical and
spiritual ones. It is not even that they cannot: they should not. The drawn bowstring will break someday. I often think about this when I stop seeing some parishioners at confession. Is it not the case when the bowstring breaks, because a person could not bear the tension, could not handle it, and could not allow themselves to relax?
Liturgy and the participation in it are the main image of a person’s spiritual life. I always say that liturgy is a dynamic ascent of a mountain that is replaced after Communion with a period of “gliding” just like flying a hang glider. After liturgy you do not want to read anything, talk about anything serious, and there is no need to, for there comes a time of flight and inner silence.
The same goes for Pascha. After Pascha we should let go of the bowstring. We have come to Pascha: an empty tomb, and now Christ can appear to us in a completely unusual form. Just as He appeared to His disciples after His Resurrection. He was not immediately recognized. We need to stop and start looking at the world and people around us in a different way. To be prepared for the Meeting.
It is easy to talk about God, feel Him, think about Him while being contained within four walls of a church. It helps a lot: all that you can hear around you is prayers, everyone is quick to understand you, you do not feel uncomfortable or make anyone feel so, you are free to choose one out of a million ways to prove yourself as a Christian: you can wash the walls in a church, visit your grandmother, dye eggs for a refectory, clean candlesticks, and donate money. It is convenient. There is nothing wrong with that. Yet after Pascha the apparent ways of life inevitably become blurry. It turns out that it is easy to live in such a way, when everything around you is conducive to your Christian life.
After Pascha Church recalls about the Paralytic, the Samaritan Woman, the Blind Man. It is anything but random and it happens so that we could see Christ in people, in whom we are not used to seeing and noticing Him. Christ with His Resurrection pushes the walls of a church and steps beyond it, into the ordinary world, and it is essential for us to see Him there.
God came into this world in the form of a person. He always comes to us in the form of a person. He knocks at our heart through another person. He speaks to us through a person and answers our questions through people. Therefore, it is important to see Christ. To recognize Him in our loved ones, friends, in those, whom we used to ignore, who have always been a stumbling block in our religiousness.
According to the Apostle, our family and friends are often “a thorn in the flesh” for us. They do not understand us, ask “idiotic” questions, “lead us into temptation”, do not even let us pray “properly”. In fact, our loved ones usually bother us and it is extremely hard to be around them. So, Pascha becomes a chance to look at them in a different way. Not in the way that we used to look at each other or at the TV, but in the way that God looks at each of us: with love and faith. For He remembers and knows different versions of us. He believes in us! Why do we often not believe people and give up on them?
“This one will constantly drink and will never change, and that one will cheat again, as usual”, we think. We do not remember the different versions of them, do not believe in them… But God remembers and believes in us. He does not slam the door in our faces.
God will not condemn or punish you if suddenly for two Sundays in a row you will not appear in a church and spend them with family, friends, outside, or on vacation. You should spend time with children, visit parents, get a good night’s sleep, and relax with friends. God will look at us with a tear if suddenly we will not recognize Him in those, who live nearby and wait for us to finally recognize them. We must hurry.
Translated by Julia Frolova