Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Beyond the Mist

It is like walking
In a fog,
Or a mist,
That engulfs every single thing
It permeates all
Leaves nothing to spare
It is neither light
Nor is it dark
It is purely existential
There is no up
Or down,
Near or
It both suffocates
Offers freedom
You cannot touch it
It can touch you
As it sets in
There is a choice

To give effort
To simply surrender

It seems as if there is nothing
And yet
Something lies in wait
A path appears
But there
One foot in front
Then the other
The drifting mist
Begins to fade
To melt
The light is bright
Still nothing is quite clear
There is a coolness
A fresh feeling
A calm excitement
The path becomes
More clear
Less daunting
There has been ascent
A glance down
Confirms a climb
As the misty fog
As a settled mass
Upon the past

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Random Tuesday, A Day in the Life...

O Holy hierarch, father John, pray unto God for us!

This morning we gave Barsik (the dog) back to his people, Bill and Alyona, after their trip to San Francisco this past weekend. They brought us a wonderful picture of his relics which now sits atop his icon in 'the quiet room'. I am grateful that they got to go visit St John and visit his many places of service, it is truly a blessing. Glory to God!

Katherine and I were talking after they left, she asked if they got to see St John and I told her yes. She then asked if he was serving while they were there and it occurred to me that being that she is a child, her concept of timing and passing of life is so unreal compared to a grown adult. A particularly good example of our need to be childlike in order that we enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, it is timeless there as is the reality of a child where minutes pass like days and days like hours. If a child is given the opportunity, they will gain a healthy understanding of what death is in reality and have no fear as it is a natural progression in life. Of course, we must also have a proper, even if basic, understanding of death in order that we impart that to our young ones. That being said, I will get back on course...when she asked if St John was serving, I told her yes, that his body is here in his cathedral, but his soul is in Heaven serving with God and with all His saints. She did not even blink at my answer, she does not question that it is true, again, the humbling true acceptance only a child can offer.

After placing the picture in its home above St John's icon, it seemed that prayers were in order and since we have a copy of the Akathist to St John, it was more than perfect. Katherine sat and drew pictures in 'the quiet room' at Papa's desk and piped in with the prayers she knows, which she is more than happy to offer these days. I am grateful to have all that we have, even the things I do not always care for or understand. Reading the prayers is such a wonderful reminder of the beauty of the Saint's life, as it is when reading any Akathist. It evoked memories of reading about St John's life and service. He gave so much of his life to the Church from childhood and, to this day, continues to give. He was rector to many parishes, bringing Truth to many who had forgotten...he is father to many orphaned children, who can never forget his sweet life of prayer and service...while in Shanghai, he would go out into the streets at night to look for babies who had been cast into the garbage cans, yes, this actually happened and, what's more, he actually found them there and would bring them home to the orphanage! He fled from place to place as godless communism ate away different pieces of the world before he eventually came to America where he lived the rest of his days. When he came, he did not want to leave his children, but he could only come first, but after many petitions to the government and even more prayers, the immigration laws were changed and many were able to come to America and return to their beloved Vladyka. There are so many numerous thing that St John has done, and continues to do regularly, that there is hardly room enough in a book to recount them all, so please forgive me for t he lack of stories I provide!

It befell me that St John was a father to many orphans who, being orphaned, were granted a wonderful mercy of God by being put in the care of our father John. Though being an orphan is a sad state of affairs for many, St John gave so much to these children through all of his service. While they struggled to have enough for the children to eat, he would still bring home more children, believing there would always be enough, because God provides and He always did. He gave them so much more than food for the body, but eternal manna from Heaven through the Divinity of the Church with her essential lessons and a true love for God. What a blessing to have instruction in the faith from a Saint of our Lord! It draws to mind a portion of Psalm 84 (83, septuagint, which is this translation):
10 For one day in thy courts is better than thousands. I would rather be an abject in the house of God, than dwell in the tents of sinners.
11 For the Lord loves mercy and truth: God will give grace and glory: the Lord will not withhold good things from them that walk in innocence.
12 O Lord of hosts, blessed is the man that trusts in thee.
This is how my thoughts is better to be an orphan in the house of a man of God, who is a Saint among His people and whose life is not of this world, than to live with many riches and find very little of redeeming Grace in a world of godless temptations.

May his presence in our churches, and prayers to God in Heaven, incite us all to live a more fervent life of prayer as we cycle through the fasts and feasts of the liturgical year, creating in us a true oneness through the communion of our plight to God as we strive to follow Christ through the example of the footsteps of one of His chosen as he himself succeeded in following after Christ throughout his life on earth. My hope is that many more people will continue to learn about St John the Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco, a Saint clad in flesh for our sake, to the Glory of God our Father! Holy, Holy, Holy art Thou oh God of our fathers! Lord have mercy and may His peace be with all of you.

Here is an excerpt from one of St John's sermons from 'The Church as the Body of Christ':
"The Church is unity in Christ, the closest union with Christ of all who rightly believe on Him and love Him, and all their union is through Christ.

Now the Church consists of both her earthly and heavenly parts, for the Son of God came to earth and became man that He might lead man into heaven and make him once again a citizen of paradise, returning to him his original condition of sinlessness and wholeness and uniting him unto Himself.

This is accomplished by the action of divine grace granted through the Church, but effort is also required from man himself. God saves His fallen creature by His own love for him, but man's love for his Creator is also necessary and without it salvation is impossible for him. Striving toward God and cleaving unto the Lord by its humble love, the human soul obtains power to cleanse itself from sin and to strengthen itself for the struggle to full victory over sin."

Friday, October 2, 2009

It begins again...

I feel the approach of everything right now. The impending difference between one and the other. The light is changing, the air is cooling, the days are crisp and chill and the last of summer tries to hold onto us through the lovely sunshine which filters through the orange leaves and finds a warm place upon our cheeks, just before the wind picks up to escort it away. My home is far away from here, my love, also, is far. A sigh of relief as things settle in for the cold of winter. Searching, gathering, storing...I have always liked this time of year.

The entirety of my life is overshadowed by all things within the realm of our faith. Seasons do not just come and go, ebb and flow...change. Each new season ushers in the upcoming feast. We are nearing our feast of the Holy Protection of the Theotokos and we will be home in time for it...barely, but thankfully. Everything will be in blue, such a beautiful color throughout. I can almost taste the things which will come afterward. It is so different being an adult during some of these times, the eyes of my daughter offer such an astounding view that would not be afforded if I were not a mother and also I could not see if I were not grown, but I am sure things will be different this year even from last.

I find I do not look forward to the individual main feasts these days, but, rather, the journey leading us there, the anticipation and pathway is much more fulfilling than in the past. Everything is so congruous and is like the ocean. The more I am washed out to sea, the more beautiful the land looks and an ability to stop struggling overwhelms because the knowledge of the tides calms the urge to fight them. This is not to say that the undertow does not have its day and an encompassing feeling of suffocation and helplessness sneaks in as if there could be anything to be done about it all, forgetting all knowledge of Love, Strength and Humility. I am a sinner, I am not perfect, but there is much hope and Love.

The constant sound of the waves and their rocking will lull me to sleep through the long winter months and keep me. Until next time, peace be with all of you...

Saturday, August 15, 2009

She sleeps

We embark upon the Dormition fast. The year is coming to an end, she now September, she will be born and the cycle will begin again. The rise and fall of each liturgical year has a great beauty in its tides. Everything is blue for her, such a bittersweet, lovely change. As the leaves prepare for fall and impending frozen winter, she prepares her womb to bring forth something so magnificent, it is amazing how her simple flesh could contain something so full and perfect! How much love she must have in her human heart and soul to be counted worthy of such grace, humility and obedience. She will have her 40 days, which seems to reflect the 40 weeks we have for our own births. He will be born and there will be a baptism in the waters of the Jordan, a presentation in the temple and we will begin to ready ourselves for great lent. It will consume us again as we walk with her to the tomb and death and into new life. Joy and laughter, food and friends, family and closeness...she will be with us as the whole year changes, but will never fade or falter. Ever-present, ever-loving and forever Mother. Summer will begin again and fly away again and here we will sit again. Same hope, same anticipation, same heart only a Mother can hear and understand. Hearts will be saddened, but then will gain strength, she will be born and it will come again. Peace, contemplation, struggle, love and warmth awaits.

And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.
And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.
He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.
He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.
He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy;
As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.
(Luke 1:46-55)

'More honorable than the Cherubim
Beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim,
Thee, who without corruption gavest birth to God, the word
the very Theotokos, thee do we magnify'

May peace unto all who read this and love abound therewith.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Bike Riding Baby Girl!

Well, after Rowyn and Iona's birthday, Katherine was determined to ride a 2 wheel bike. She already had it down, she was only lacking confidence. Next day, we went to the thrift shop and picked up a tiny bike (like Rowyn's) for under $5 and brought it home for the once over Daddy inspection. Next day after that, we took the dog on our morning walk and Katherine brought her bike. She nearly had it, was riding all by herself, just needed a little more practice. Then, the day after (wed) she was riding away and leaving us in the dust. She has spent nearly every day on her tiny bike and we had made a deal with her early on about the bike situation, sort of incentive to get her riding a 2 wheeler (but nothing says incentive like one of your best friends doing something you don't!!!) Anyway, she rode on her other, bigger bike a little, but went back to the tiny one.

The other day we were on an errand and we decided to pull in to the bike shop to whet her little appetite for a little nudge (can you tell, I am almost more excited than she is at this point?) So, on our way in we noticed a little bike on the 'used' rack. They have a trade in for bikes purchased there to upgrade into the next size up (that is my understanding) and we wandered a bit. She was definitely stimulated and said she would like to try this little bike out front. Not too big, not too small. Well, that was it, she didn't want anything else and agreed that this was the bike for her. We asked Daddy for his 'final word' and went about the business of picking out a shiny new bell and a tiny rear flicker light, yay! So, here it is, and the girl who rides daily:

(Papa added the basket from her other bike, nice touch!)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Tidbit from my recent reading...

"Before anything else one must believe in God, 'that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him' (Heb. 11:6)

Faith, according to the teaching of St. Antioch, is the beginning of our union with God. One who truly believes is a stone in the temple of God; he is prepared for the edifice of God the Father, raised to the heights by the power of Jesus Christ, that is, of the Cross, with the aid of the ropes, that is, the grace of the Holy Spirit.

'Faith without works is dead' (James 2:26), and the works of faith are: love, peace, long-suffering, mercy, humility, rest from all works (as God rested Himself from His works), bearing of the Cross, and life in the Spirit. Only such faith can be considered true. True faith cannot be without works; one who truly believes will unfailingly have works as well."

-St. Seraphim of Sarov, on Faith, from the Little Russian Philokalia: Spiritual Instruction, pg 25

Saturday, June 6, 2009

A Little More...

Well, it was one liturgical year ago on Pentecost, that we found out about Jay's problem's with fact, on Ascension just before that, we had a Molebin to pray for answers to his health problems and here we are. Seems funny to me, that year was so long ago. Things are far from where they were and still further from where we are going, but still we truck on. There are so few words to adequately describe the way our lives have changed and become molded in our struggles, but many things have come to pass. It is amazing to me the things we learn and what becomes important when life is more valuable from breath to breath, than anything you could imagine.

Katherine has blossomed as her papa's little girl. They have been learning to have such a wonderful relationship and have so many interests alike. They are really quite a sight, I love them both dearly. She is growing up in ways that make my heart break with love sometimes. She is articulate, funny and just like the both of us, which in turn, becomes her very own person with a whole lot of spunk! She loves art, animals, horses, books, learning to ride her bike (and going on the back of papa's tag along), friends, family and nearly anything you can imagine. She is something else.

Jay has been improving, though we are reminded on occasion how far he still has. I have caught myself getting used him being better, not well, but better than before now. It keeps me on my toes and I can be grateful for that since my tendencies lean me toward lazy and I can appreciate a little nudge ;o) He will start school again in august, God willing, so we barely have these few weeks before that to get him in top shape to give it a go AND spend time together AND try to rest AND keep a get the picture.

I have been riding my bike more often and that has proven to be a tremendous joy. I enjoy the challenge and am glad to give myself the opportunity to be more active. I am still many projects, so much yarn, but so little time. I have often found myself thinking of things that I would like to say, but then hiding them away in my mind or heart until they hatch and establish themselves...In the midst of all of this, I have had many thoughts on life that sometimes I still chew. One of the most resounding things I have been learning to grasp is that no matter what we do, or try to at any rate, can keep us from death, the death of the body, if He so wills it. I know there are many an unbeliever in the world these days, but I wonder where a persons heart and soul is when they are in the 11th hour and death is so near you can almost touch it. I have found where mine is, and has been, when contemplating the mortality of us all in the minutes that peel away the hours....

So, here we are, one liturgical year ago we discovered one problem, for which I am thankful. We have had loads of help, support and prayers, for which we are grateful and now we look toward what will continue to become of us. Until next time, Sprazdnikom, Happy Feast of Pentecost, Congratulations!!!

Blessed art Thou, O Christ our God, Who hast revealed the fishermen as most wise by sending down upon them the Holy Spirit - through them Thou didst draw the world into Thy net. O Lover of Man, glory to Thee!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Grab Bag

I have been wanting to blog lately but haven't been around or had anything in my brain that was trying to seep out into the bloggo-sphere. Anyway, I thought that maybe I would just update on what has been going on around these parts. Here goes!

Jay's health has been improving, he is by no means well yet, but is certainly on the way inn that direction. Still, there are 'good' days and 'bad' days, the good days are great and the bad days are still pretty low, he just gets wiped out. It takes a lot of energy being ill and what little energy he has in the first place is zapped away for the day, sometimes more than one day at a time, if we include recovery. If we look on the bright side, we are miles from where we were months ago, even just weeks ago, so for that, we are grateful.

Katherine is getting SO big anymore, all she wants to do is swim, eat watermelon and grapes, and go on bike rides. Can't say that I blame her. She is becoming quite a little girl, so very animated and deliberate in herself. Tonight there was a thunderstorm and when it is bedtime, the thunderstorms get to be distracting with a bit of uneasy excitement. She ended up in our bed and I laid down with her and turned off the light. We cuddled and talked while the lightening would flash and we'd count until the thunder would come rolling in. I kept thinking to myself how big she is and how I will miss this when she is bigger, but I have it now...

I went to home depot, finally, and got the material to make a large, two-tiered planter for the patio. Went by the garden place and got some good dirt to fill it all up. It is hard to describe, but growing things is far more than just for food or something pretty, there is something there in the co-creation of a living thing. We have LOTS of things in different places planted and we are just waiting for them to pop out and say hello. I am particularly interested in the basil, we planted two different kinds, a flat-leaf italian one (I think) and a greek mini bush basil. MMMMmmm, basil! Katherine is old enough now that she may get the concept to not eat all the herbs before we can make something with them...but even if not, at least she is enjoying the little patio garden. In the newly built planter we gave her a small section to plant her own carrots. She chose the 'carnival' blend and so they are supposed to be different colors of the rainbow. I will never forget when she had a carrot that was purple (I think, or so purple it looked black) and she said, with a hint of disappointment, "It just tastes like a regular carrot!" I hope her crop is bountiful, it is a good experience for her. When we have pictures, I will try to remember to post them.

I am feeling industrious lately, trying to get a good handle on things around these parts. The nice weather helps because I try to set times to get things done and then go enjoy the rest of the day with the little family. While I am more industrious in those areas, I have been particularly unmotivated in the knitting arena...I need a project that has a deadline, I think. So many things to knit, but nowhere to start...or something like that. Maybe I will think of something to make for Jay for his birthday, that gives me a month, just over. Maybe some nice wooly socks for when the weather cools, or for camping or something...hmm, perhaps....

Anyway, I think I ought to be off to bed here soon, Katherine and I might get to go to coffee tomorrow for a long overdue mother's day treat. Maybe we'll ride any case, I am off to bed! Good night to all...'For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. Psalm 91:11'

Monday, May 25, 2009

Oooh, pretty!

Jay found this and I thought I might re-post it to share with everyone...enjoy!

The moon is seen rising in the sky above the domes of the Smolny Cathedral in St.Petersburg, Russia, in the early dawn, Tuesday, May 19, 2009, in this photo taken with a digital camera through the eyepiece of a telescope. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

THe Baptism of Pelagia, a God-mother's account and musing

Everything is sort of a blur, and I am here sitting and thinking about my God-motherhood. I remember being spurred on to say the trisagion prayers for the churching and then bundling the little darling in a blanket to begin the prayers and baptism. I held her there as Katherine wandered over next to me, meeting this task and adventure with a family, not just a 'mother', to represent. A few little whispers and kisses, prayer after prayer and confession of faith, a little to be unwrapped and be immersed into the tomb of Christ thrice. Out she came, so soft and warm. Getting dressed was not welcome at first, but she gave in after a minute. More prayers and a procession around the church, a little more of this and that, then it is over. WHOOSH, and so it begins, a life in Christ.

I awoke this morning in anticipation of taking her to her first communion and being able to commune myself, God help us get there in a reasonable time so I can sing, Palm Sunday is not a day to get lost in the crowds if a person can help it! Well, enough on that...Fr Boris came out to finish 'churching' just before communion, the servant of God, Pelagia...tiny and angelic in her little white gown and bonnet. Her stiff arms outstretched as if reaching for God. As she was lifted up, "in the name of the Father" and her small crown of white bonnet is the top of the sign of the cross, I imagine to myself she is being lifted up to God the Father, in Heaven..."and of the Son," her feet dip down and make the bottom of the sign of the cross and I think of how Christ came down, into this earthly world to save us..."and of the Holy Spirit, Amen." Her bitty reaching arms and hands go side to side to complete the sign of the cross and I envision between God the Father at the top and God the Son at the bottom and then God the Holy Spirit which is everywhere and fillest all things in between. I cannot truly describe it all, but she was like a little angel and so darling. She was first to commune as per tradition and partially woke to receive and get back to sleep, no fuss.

She is my fourth God-child and they are all girls (maybe God is trying to tell me something). I have more children through God's Grace than my own will, and I am grateful, even if 80% are spiritual daughters. If I could not have anymore just yet, or even ever, I will always have my girls. I love them all dearly and each has a special place in my heart. I find this task bittersweet, a challenge and a blessing, a sort of podvig. One of the greatest benefits, I think, is learning how to truly pray, for that is what I think will come of it all. They are not of my blood, it seems easier to pray for those of my own line, but they are a part of me and so the greatest gift I hope to offer for each of them is a heart of a mother that is offered to God in prayers of love and hope. If prayer is love and vice versa, perhaps I will stumble upon that as well. I have learned a lot from being mother to Katherine and I have the opportunity to use some of what I have learned to give to my other girls. So, to Sara and Elena, Talia and, now, Pelagia, I love you all dearly and hope to live up to the expectation of my duty, Kuma is so happy to be a part of your lives, hugs and kisses always...May God bless you all the days of your lives.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Thought and Reading

We have been reading a lot during these last couple weeks. As a family, we have finished the first 'Little House' book and started into the next. Katherine absolutely LOVES them and we spend a great deal of time reading and hanging out together, which never would have been the case right now had Jay not gotten so sick causing him to still be at home. Our other readings are the Bible, our routine readings that include the daily readings and our own selections.

I have enjoyed reading in Genesis lately. I find myself thinking about how there is reference to how men are the sons of God and women are the daughter's of men. Now, if you think of it just as it is as I have stated, it only stands to reason that it is particularly sexist and that it does not include us all as children of the Almighty. If you read it in context, and I mean start from the beginning and get there, it really makes more sense than it gives way. You see, God made 'man' from the earth, dirt...woman was made from Adam's flesh. It only stands to reason that men, who were born of God and earth, would be sons of God and women, being born of Adam's rib as he slept, as a gift from God, should be referred to as the daughter's of men, for we have sprung forth from his flesh. It also brings into light, our union in marriage, we become one flesh again, we are no longer our own persons, but one. The rib is joined back to the body of Adam and we can begin to work symbiotically toward our eternity, together in oneness and unity. We are two halves of the same whole, we each have a share in our eventual eternity whether or not we work together. Just something to ponder...

I have been reading a little in a couple books: Dorotheos of Gaza: Discourses and Sayings, Elder Macarius of Optina and The Spiritual Psalter. I like them all very much, the one that has my most attention is the Psalter...I will one of my most recent favorite portions:

"Third Stasis, #117: Life's lessons-eight evil thoughts

Know that there are eight evil thoughts that bring about all that is vile: those of sensuality, lechery, love of money, anger, inappropriate grief, despondency, vainglory, and pride. All these conduct warfare with every man."

Here it goes on about each in turn, but here is the one that I like best...

"...If you want to conquer pride, then whatever you do, say not that you do it by your own labors, or with your own strength. But if you fast and stand vigil or sleep on bare ground or sing psalms, or serve in the altar or do a great number of prostrations, say that it was done with God's help and protection, not by your own strength and effort."

Well, off to have lunch withe little family...and I am sure some of you are wondering, the answer is, yes, I am knitting almost daily too =)

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Here we are again

Well, here we are. Forgiveness Sunday, Great Lent...this year is a particularly interesting one for so many reasons. There is not a lot for me to say, I would not have the words if I tried, but we are here. The lenten cusp, what will there be? There is not much difference between great lent and other times of the year, we are just trying harder, we want to come to the feast as clean as possible, difficult as that may be at times. Here is what I am thinking about...
-I plan to be offline during the week days and have minimal use on weekends.
-I hope to find a chapter book to read as a family in the evenings to increase family togetherness and such.
-Find a better routine for cleaning around this joint since we are pretty settled into Jay being home.
-Spend less time idly and more time being productive and proactive.
-Read through all the Psalms at about 3-4 a day as well as the daily regular readings.
oh, the list goes on...some I will not share because they are for me to know, but you get the idea.
Please forgive me if I have offended any of you, in mind or thought, word or deed, known or unknown, please forgive me a sinner. May God bless everyone during this wonderful time and give us wisdom to grow closer to Him.
Much Love to all!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Random Clarity

This morning I walked out the door with my knitting tote, off to my first sit and knit with a group of ladies who knit/crochet for charitable causes at the library for 2 hours...well, I was running late, more like 1.5 today. As I left, I rounded our corner and Katherine had run to tap on the window for one last air kiss, wave and smile. At that moment I imagined to myself, her, years from now writing that book I have never gotten around to writing. I imagined the narrative as this, "My mother was always knitting something, or going somewhere to knit with other knitter's..." Then, it struck me! those sorts of books don't really get written any more...which then inspired this thought:

We are losing our craft. (I know, bear with me).

Knitting and other things of the like are on the list (yes, they actually made a list) of things that are stress relief. We have all kinds of people who depend on substances, anti-depressants, drugs, other people, t.v., and so on to take us out of this world into a plane of numbness and oppression. We are oppressing ourselves with our own self-medicating, whether substance or technological or career.

You may say..."What in the world is she talking about?!?!?!" I will tell you...if we spent more time WITH each other instead of apart so much to have the things we want but never get to actually HAVE each other; if we would spent more time creating with our gifts and talents those things which help us to grow and cope and most importantly, love, instead of working so hard to keep what we never really had in the first place; if we really paid attention to what was going our lives, in our families, in our hearts, might we not discover the world for which we have been searching? Might we not find that which we seek and then some?

The more we look, are we not let down for want of searching for something that has already been known from eternity? I think the hardest thing for any of us to ever learn to do is to let go, simple as that. Let go of the falsehoods and follow Truth; let go of insecurities and allow love in; let go of ourselves and let our neighbor be important; let go of our pain and let the tears baptise and cleanse us into newness; let go of pride and let ourselves to feel, to learn; let go of who we think we are and

What does all this have to do with knitting, you say? This is what this means to me...when I knit, my hands are not idle, I am creating, for once in this world, I can really create something useful over and over again. If I can do nothing of use to the Glory of God but this, I knit. I knit to try to be more humble and selfless. I knit to learn discipline and patience. I knit to finish what I have started, even if it drives me nuts. I knit to persevere and struggle. I can only hope that the intention behind it all will somehow take root in my daughter, sweet as she is and find her craft that can bring her virtues for which to struggle to attain. All this from a craft.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Reflections of a Humble Heart

A selection from the book that I have read, but can't seem to stop thinking about. =)

"Indeed, the devil dealt the human race a terrible blow. And we? we did not even resist, and we lost paradise, and joy, and immortality. Without a fight we ceded to the enemy all of our fortresses. But in war it is not the first battle that determines the outcome. Has it not happened frequently in history that nations and great armies have suffered defeats and losses, and have remained without military equipment, have retreated, and, in general, have endured deprivation, suffering, losses, and dishonor? Nevertheless, experienced generals did not allow themselves to despair but continued the war and, in spite of all the defeats they had previously suffered, they suddenly dealt the enemy a decisive blow and ultimately emerged victorious.

So, too, brother, do not doubt your victory. If you continue the struggle and do not throw down your weapons and run off the field of battle, but rather, regardless of all your previous defeats, if you hold fast the shield of faith, and keep your helmet of salvation on your head and do not let go of the sword of the spirit, i.e., the word of God (Eph. 6:16-17), then you will gain the victory and the trophy will be yours. There is Someone who will be fighting alongside you, and, if you really want to know, He has already conquered your enemy--who is also His enemy. God Himself is with you; He is your Countryman, your Defender, your--all. With His name, with hope in Him and with love towards Him, go and fight. If you get wounded, that is, if you sin in one way or another--inasmuch as the fight is not an easy one and the enemy is skilled at delivering blows--do not despond, because for a Christian no wound can be mortal. Come to the frontline hospital, i.e., to the Church, and here repent of your sins and weaknesses, and your wounds will straightway be healed. The arrow of sin that wounded you is taken out and already the wound is no more. Go then back into battle with the enemy. See here, the enemy has struck your sword from your hand; that is to say, he has thrown you into a state of spiritual weakness through misfortunes, griefs and anxieties, which have disarmed you, as it were. Bow down humbly before the will of God, bend down and pick up your arms, reproach yourself for your faintheartedness and repel the enemy's attack. If you act in this way, you will emerge victorious, and as victor, you will be crowned.

O Christian, you are a soldier of Christ in this life and you are called not to a peaceful and ordinary, tranquil existence, but to war, to a fierce war. If you are victorious in this war, you will enjoy peace, honor, and happiness in the age to come."

Let us not forget with whom we are fighting, where our anger should lie, and the focus and purpose of our struggles as Christians here on earth. Our anger only for the evil one and how easily he distracts us and at ourselves for so simply being shown falsehood as reality...our fight, against him that is the deceiver who continues to lead us falsely through our own weaknesses...our love, for all that is Him and from Him, let us fight to keep the love that we learn and emulate in His name...

Peace be unto you...

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Way

The way is not shut
Still I refuse
Standing there
Looking there
Feeling the warmth

The way is so straight
So sure
Precise and unwavering
I stumble and trip
I fumble back up

The way smells so sweet
Like a field full of flowers
Ever-blooming flowers

The way is so light
Full of clarity

The way is so solid
My flesh is so weak

The way is everything
But I still ask for
As if there is something
I do not have

The way is so simple
Oar in the water
I push against the flow
Harder than I try
To save myself...

The way is all-knowing
I still want to hide
Crawl into bed
Take a rest from it

The way is so good
Full with love

Yes, the way is Hope
I still have hope
As I hold it
I look around
I see the straight
narrow path

The way holds my Hope
I see it all so clearly
When I fall
And in this Hope

The way is not shut
I wish to enter
Chin up and dusted off
I hold out my hand
Will you come with me
My love...

Monday, January 5, 2009

Two Banquets

Misha, this is for you!

A sermon by St John of Shanghai and San Francisco

Homily on the Two Banquets

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Today's Gospel's readings present before us a mental image of two banquets. One banquet, described in the parable, was arranged by a king full of benevolence and mercy. When, however, the banquet was ready, those invited did not come. They preferred to occupy themselves--one with buying, another with his domestic affairs; others seized and insulted those who were sent to call them and even killed some of them. The incensed king, having severely punished the guilty, again sent forth his servants-to invite to the banquet whomever they should meet. Many gathered, and when the king came to see them, he noticed one who was not in proper festive attire. The king asked why it was he had not come suitably dressed. The man was silent, indicating disdain for the king and a lack of desire to participate in the festivities, and for this reason he was made to leave. And so, at this banquet there were many who had been called but few turned out to be chosen, who took part in the supper.

The other banquet belonged not to a parable but to reality. It was a banquet of the iniquitous Herod. It seems that in this case none of those invited refused to come, all were dressed as befitted the occasion, and they enjoyed themselves immensely. The evening passed in drunkenness, in revelry uninhibited by shame or conscience, and it concluded with a monstrous crime, the murder of John the Baptist.

These two banquets are images of two ways of life, two kinds of enjoyment. The first is an image of the spiritual banquet, of spiritual enjoyment. It is arranged by the Lord. This is the banquet of Christ's Church. We are invited to this banquet when we are called to participate in the Divine services, especially the Divine Liturgy and the Communion of the Divine Body and Blood of Christ; when we are called to good works, to vigilance and to sobriety. We refuse to go to that banquet when we do not go to church services, when instead of good we do evil, when we prefer life's cares and pleasures to godly life. We come without a wedding garment when we bring an alien, sinful disposition into that life. Each of us is invited to that banquet many times a day, and we refuse each time we prefer what it carnal and sinful to what is spiritual and divine.

Every day we are likewise invited to Herod's banquet. Often we do not immediately realize that we are being tempted by evil. Sin always begins with a small thing. Herod at first even delighted in listening to John the Baptist; inwardly he realized the sinfulness of his conduct, but he did not war against sin and he ended up murdering the great Saint. We go to Herod's sordid banquet each time instead of good we choose carnal, sinful pleasures and hardheartedness; each time we choose to disregard our souls and so forth.

Once having begun with what appears small or trivial, it is difficult to stop, and if afterwards we do not catch ourselves in time and do not forcefully take ourselves in hand, we can fall into grave sins and crimes, for which eternal torments await us.

Even now John the Baptist calls to each of us: Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Repent, in order to enjoy the supper of the Lamb, slain for the sins of the whole world, in the bright, eternal mansions, and not to share with the devil the banquet of malice and torment in Tartarus (in the nether regions) and outer darkness.

Archbishop Andrei (Rymarenko) of Blessed Memory adds: From this Sunday of the Holy Fathers begins a new cycle of preparation for the Birth of Christ. This is the beginning of a new life. From the manger, the light of Christ will shine on us. And in this light will be the warmth of our adoption by God. At the manger we will feel like one family.

It is the same in nature. During the whole winter there was light, but no warmth. But from the moment of Christmas, our earth will turn toward the sun and will begin to experience the life-giving warmth which in the spring will produce greenery, flowers, and fruit. So it is in our spiritual nature. Something wonderful happens every year at the manger of Christ. We all begin to feel like brothers and sisters, children of one Father. And these are not just words, but reality. Love becomes manifest. There is a desire to gladden one another, to help, and to love.

And again this year, from the manger of Christ our new ways will begin: family, monastic, social, domestic, business. But all of them will guide us to one goal--to the Kingdom of God, to the communion with God, to the Lord's Feast.

So let us not forget our dignity, our calling, that we are invited to the Lord's Feast. And let us spend our temporary life as pilgrims, proceeding on the paths that will bring us to the Heavenly Jerusalem, where there will be "the ceaseless sound of those keeping festival."

And then we will become not only those who are called, but those who are chosen.


Father Michael went on to remind that in order that we be 'chosen', we must first choose God.

Well, there ya go...Misha, I typed it all up with Jay's dictation =) Hope you all like it as much as I did!