Last night we went to Vespers to mark the beginning of Great Lent and to celebrate Forgiveness Sunday. After Vespers the entire congregation lines up and asks forgiveness of one another, one by one, with the words "Brother forgive me, a sinner" and the response "May God forgive us both." The lights in the church are dimmed, the altar prepared for Lent with the gold doors to it closed. All in all it is a moving and emotional way to begin the journey to Pascha, and Husband and I wouldn't have missed it for anything.
The boys, however? Well, I have a feeling that, next year, the promise of a $20 each won't get them to crawl out from under their beds where they'll be hiding. You see, as each person asks forgiveness of the other, they hug. And kiss. And being mostly Arab, they kiss three times - left, right, left. Some make contact and others air-kiss, but suffice it to say we were all kissed several hundred times last night. The boys bore this stoically until Two found himself in the worst possible situation ever: a third grade girl of his acquaintance was headed straight for us.
"Look out, One. We've got trouble!" said the unforgiving imp, and he promptly hid behind my back until the danger had passed.
Forgiveness? Well, we're working on it. But I'm glad to say that with the boys, kissing has a long way to go before it's deemed acceptable. And I guess that's just as it should be.