This is the first week of Lent for Orthodox Christians—see Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick’s post on the date of Pascha if you’re curious about the difference from Catholics and Protestants—and it’s been a busy week for our family, with church services every day (including today: shortly after I post this, we’ll head off to Vespers). It’s a lot of effort, and I don’t just mean the services themselves. There’s also the planning and coördination it takes to even get our big family (or sometimes, just most of it) there to church. There’s the changed, essentially vegan, diet of Lent—all kudos to my eldest daughter for taking charge of planning out this week’s meals—both in terms of adjusting what we eat, and in some cases cajoling the younger children into eating it. Sometimes America’s fusion of cultures leads to combinations our forebears might have squinted at, but I don’t care what anybody says: spinach/tofu spanikopita with soy sauce and sriracha is good.

Most emphatically, though, especially as we close out one week and look to the next, there’s simply the tiredness from all the above effort. As every church service comes up, it’s hard not to at least think, “Maybe we’ll skip this one.”

When I was a little boy, my dad always used to say, “One step at a time, put one foot in front of the other: that’s how you get up a mountain.” It used to drive me nuts! But he was right; that is how you get up a mountain, and it’s how we live in Lent. Things will slow down a little bit—not quite so many church services in the coming weeks—but we’ll keep putting one foot in front of the other. That’s all we can do.

I ask your forgiveness and prayers.