THE DOORS OF REPENTANCE
“Open to me the doors/gates (πύλας) of repentance, O Giver of Life: for early in the morning my spirit seeks Your holy temple, bearing a temple of the body all defiled. But in Your compassion cleanse it by Your loving-kindness and mercy.” (Byzantine Hymn at Sunday Matins before and during Lent)
This pre-Lenten (and Lenten) hymn reminds me of “doors” that are presently closed. Otherwise I would not be asking for them to be opened. The fact is, I have closed the way leading to change, or “change of mind” (“metanoia” or repentance), having stagnated in certain, habitual patterns that “defile” (from “defouler,” to trample down) or “trample down” my growth in God, the Giver of Life. And I need help, when it comes to making a change and opening those “doors” again, leading to change.
So this is an exciting time, this pre-Lenten season, which speaks primarily of change; a change I can enter into, when I pick up the simple tools laid out before me in the prayers, discipline, and atmosphere of Lent. It reminds me of the exciting time when John the Baptist first proclaimed a great change that was coming, as he “prepared the way of the Lord” and “went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins…” (Lk 3: 3) So let me join in and embrace this season of change; a change I can believe in.