It is also my birthday. I find it very appropriate this year to spend this day with extra prayer and repentance and to begin the next year of my life at the same time as we begin the journey to Pascha (Easter.)
Last night we traveled about an hour and a half from our home in order to attend Forgiveness Vespers - the service that actually inaugurates Great Lent in the Orthodox Church. We had never been to this type of service before and it was very, very, beautiful.
We prayed the Prayer of St. Ephraim:
We observed the beginning of the Rite of Forgiveness, where everyone in the church asks and receives forgiveness from each other. The Professor and The Boy were a little shy about participating, so we slipped on out of the church, but we did a little Rite of Forgiveness later with each other. I found that service to be a very healing experience, if that makes any sense.
It was a beautiful way to begin Lent and the next year of my life.