Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Prayer by St. John of Kronstadt, in honor of his feast

The following is a wonderful prayer to read before participating in the holy mystery of Confession.

Preparation for Confession
by St. John of Kronstadt

I, a sinful soul, confess to our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ, all of my evil acts which I have done, said or thought from baptism even unto this present day.

I have not kept the vows of my baptism, but have made myself unwanted before the face of God.

I have sinned before the Lord by lack of faith and by doubts concerning the Orthodox Faith and the Holy Church; by ungratefulness for all of God's great and unceasing gifts; His long-suffering and His providence for me, a sinner; by lack of love for the Lord, as well as fear, through not fulfilling the Holy Commandments of God and the canons and rules of the Church.

I have not preserved a love for God and for my neighbor nor have I made enough efforts, because of laziness and lack of care, to learn the Commandments of God and the precepts of the Holy Fathers. I have sinned: by not praying in the morning and in the evening and in the course of the day; by not attending services of by coming to Church only halfheartedly.

I have sinned by judging members of the clergy. I have sinned by not respecting the Feasts, breaking the Fasts, and by immoderation in food and drink.

I have sinned by self importance, disobedience, willfullness, self-righteousness, and the seeking of approval and praise.

I have sinned by unbelief, lack of faith, doubts, despair, despondency, abusive thoughts, blasphemy and swearing.

I have sinned by pride, a high opinion of myself, narcissism, vanity, conceit, envy, love of praise, love of honors, and my putting on airs.

I have sinned: by judging, malicious gossip, anger, remembering of offenses done to me, hatred and returning evil for evil; by slander, reproaches, lies, slyness, deception and hypocrisy; by prejudices, arguments, stubbornness, and an unwillingness to give way to my neighbor; by gloating, spitefulness, taunting, insults and mocking; by gossip, by speaking too much and by empty speech.

I have sinned by unnecessary and excessive laughter, by reviling and dwelling upon my previous sins, by arrogant behavior, insolence and lack of respect.

I have sinned by not keeping my physical and spiritual passions in check, by my enjoyment of impure thoughts, licentious and unchastity in thoughts, words and deeds.

I have sinned by lack of endurance towards my illnesses and sorrows, a devotion to the comforts of life and by being too attached to my parents, children, relatives and friends.

I have sinned by hardening my heart, having a weak will and by not forcing myself to do good.

I have sinned by miserliness, a love of money, the acquisition of unnecessary things and immoderate attachment to things.

I have sinned by self-justification, a disregard for the admonitions of my conscience and failing to confess my sins through negligence or false pride.

I have sinned many times by my Confession: belittling, justifying and keeping silent about sins.

I have sinned against the Most-Holy and Life-Creating Mysteries of the Body and Blood of our Lord by coming to Holy Communion without humility or the fear of God.

I have sinned in deed, word and thought, knowingly and unknowingly, willingly and unwillingly, thoughtfully and thoughtlessly, and is is impossible to enumerate all of my sins because of their multitude. But I truly repent of these and all others not mentioned by me because of my forgetfulness and I ask that they be forgiven through the abundance of the Mercy of God.

Friday, October 29, 2010

It's Late and I Ought to be in per usual

After 32 1/2 years of living, I can honestly say that the more I learn and experience, the less I truly know. Such an odd place to be. Time has begun to seem as if it were never really real, while people, faces and places meld together to make the varied contents of my life. The surreality of everyday life overshadows what would be tangible. This illusion of life and control over its course is so completely draining, it is all I can do to look up and notice the days passing into years and watch my little girl growing in more ways than can be described. There is a monotony that takes hold and refuses to let go, but it is a constant reminder of the small ripple that we create in this vast pool of life. I get tired of all of this, it takes its toll and I have to figure out how to fill the remaining days of this life. I do have ideas and goals, but sometimes feeling trapped inside of the fleeting walls of a prison that cannot contain, nor explain, that which is true.

There is a struggle, and just like any struggle, the fight becomes a source of wearing. Hopefully this current grinding away produces something useful. Usually it does, but right now, I just can't see it. It just seems so much like flapping in the wind while everything just passes right by. But hey, what do I know?

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Solemn Thought

"Children and saints cling to You, O Lord, the rest rebel against You.
Children and saints are the boundary between the Kingdom of existence and the shadow of nonexistence.

Guardians call themselves parents and cast Your children off crags into chasms.

Guardians presume that they are parents, and so they direct Your children as though they were their own property. Truly, they are directing nothing but aberrations and disruptions.

The children, whom you guardians have abducted, belong to another, and you will answer for theft and banditry.

You own neither the life that is in you, nor the life for which you served as a channel. Everything belongs to another, except for the wickedness within you, and you will answer for theft and banditry.

You will answer for theft, because you have been calling those who belong to another, your own; and you will answer for banditry, because you have mutilated and butchered those who belong to another.

On earth there are only guardians; and this is a very great honor.
You have been entrusted with the guardianship of the most precious treasure that God has. And this is a very great honor.

One, who was never even born and was never entrusted with the guardianship of anything, will be more blessed than you, if your guardianship is an abomination and a mortification of souls.

Why do you rejoice in children, unless you intend to keep watch over them as though they were angels from heaven? Why do you grieve for them, when they leave you early and flee to the angels in heaven? You were rejoicing in what belongs to another, and you are grieving for what belongs to another.

Do not care only about keeping the bodies of your children safe, for even foxes do the same for their foxlings. But care about God in your children. Once God is cared for He will take care of all the rest. And what you have been ac cumulating for your children so strenuously, He will effortlessly gather for them quickly and easily.

Do not drive God out of your children, for you will deprive them of their peace, their happiness, their health, and their prosperity.

Even if you leave the entire world to those whom God has left, you will have left it to starving people, who will devour it all and still die of hunger.

Do not ensure a piece of bread for your children, but a piece of the soul and the conscience. Your children will be ensured and you will be blessed in two worlds.

Care for this property of another better than your own, and your reward will be immense.

Royal children have been entrusted to your guardianship. Truly, the King will give no small reward to those who guard His princely progeny, and have not erased the Father's name from those children's memory.

Through children the King is looking at you with amazement, and is awaiting your responses. If your responses are deathful, you will be taking care of corpses.

Children and saints cling to You, my Lord, the rest rebel against You. Children and saints are Your way of testing the world.

Be careful, my soul, be careful and make no mistake." ~ Prayer XCV, Prayers by the Lake, by St. Nikolai Velimirovic

This is a sobering account of our stewardship of children. We have a great many things entrusted to us, none so precious and fragile as children and we often take for granted their very existence. We brush them off when we cannot spare the time, we hurry them along when they don't not keep with our schedules, we correct them in their action when they do not suit our expectations and we act as if we will always have them, day in and day out. I think this is demonstrated in this passage from the Gospel of Matthew 19:13-15:

"13Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them.

14But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

15And he laid his hands on them, and departed thence."

And also here in Matthew 18: 1-11 :

1At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?

2And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,

3And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

4Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

5And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.

6But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

7Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!

8Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.

9And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.

10Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.

11For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost."

"13Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them.

14But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

15And he laid his hands on them, and departed thence."

These are only partial thoughts as I let this all sink into my heart, considering my great task as a mother and attempting to gather strength for this journey. It is a long and very thankless road, at times, full of pitfalls and tears, but also of a great many joys and warmth. These earthly rewards of parenting seem to offer a bit of needed encouragement and focus to keep moving and give us a better direction and determination, but some days just drift into weeks and we look over to find our small ones quite big. They grow with time and always as we have shown them to grow, not as we have instructed. They will take from us that which our heart offers, so if it is grudging, harsh and indifferent, it will be what they know to give. If we nurture love and selfless giving in our hearts, they will also know it with intimate feeling in their own.

To take this concept one step further, I want you to imagine that each and every person you meet is someone else's child. If we are charged with the care and love for 'our' own children, why not all children. We come from the same first parents in the flesh and we ought to act accordingly. We should care for everyone of us, great and small, old and young, as we journey through this life. If we cannot demonstrate the same Christ-like love to all in creation, where will we end up? If we try to confine love with the bounds of our jaded perception of it, we do not know love at all, for:
1If I speak in the tongues[a] of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames,[b] but have not love, I gain nothing.

4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

9For we know in part and we prophesy in part,

10but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.

11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.

12Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13

Oh, to be a parent, it is truly the hardest job a person could ever love.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

This Knitter's Recollection

You know, I started knitting, not counting a day or so in my early 20's a decade ago, about 3 years ago when I asked my darling dearest husband for lessons for our anniversary. (Isn't the 5th anniversary fiber? Ha ha!) It is one of the most valuable gifts, I have found, that anyone has ever given me. I have had the opportunity to do so many things through knitting, though not all of them are visible representations of my crafting. I was not quite as keen for the first months following my lessons, possibly because they were at Michael's and I didn't know of our lovely, nearby local shop, The Knitting Habitat. In any case, I sort of dabbled more than anything and turned out a few creations. I never quite felt limited by my lack of knowledge or abilities, but that stems from my family upbringing that we were quite capable of just about anything, we just had to pursue it. Some of my first projects were large, but always realistic. There are a great many things I have learned, but will try to expound on a few of the most interesting (to me), as well as unexpected.

Many of you know what our lives consist of day to day. Food is at the forefront of whenever we leave the house and Jay's health is a daily reminder that life is more than any meaning we try to give it and tends to keep us in check through our turbulent trials. When Jay first fell ill, my knitting found me. I say it like this because I am not sure I would have chosen something that can both gratify and aggravate so much as knitting can. It is those exact things that create a dear love of my craft. What can be learned from something so aggravating as, say, a project where something has gone horribly wrong? Well, in my case, patience was to be gathered and applied. Nothing was ever greater than the next stitch, or else it could always be ripped out or set aside to work on another project. My time was metered and tempered in ways I could not spark within myself. The best part is while I was growing patience within, my hands were creating usefulness without. At the worst time, in the beginning of Jay's illness, I can recall having some pretty difficult days if I didn't knit and I think it was because it paced me and had become so routine, that things seemed off if I didn't take the time to knit a few rows. I would even tell Jay that if I seemed stressed, or something, he should tell me to sit down and knit for a few minutes, and he still does to this day.

Another aspect of our existence is our having difficulty in expanding our family. Truthfully, going through acceptance, only to figure out the reason for our troubles, then to have hope again and then go further into accepting the will and direction of our lives that is so tremendously bigger than we, can be exhausting. We are still only 3, which is dandy, but it goes to show that even when we imagine things a certain way, they are likely to turn out the way they ought and not the way we thought. What on earth has this got to do with knitting?!?!?! Well, in the peace of my art and crafting, I was creating. It may seem like nothing to some, but to me, when there was emptiness in the baby reaches of my heart, it would get filled as I created things for others. I have always preferred to give, rather than receive, but this gave new meaning to what I had to offer. Some may think that what I write is plain silly, but what every knitter knows is the part of their heart that has been taken captive by this craft.

On an odd note, I have learned to appreciate sewing more and more. I used to say that I didn't become a knitter so I could sew, but the more I knit, I can truly be in awe of something well grafted and the time it takes, whether sewing sweater bits together, or a cotton dress on a machine. I do believe that we all have a bit of a crafter inside us, it only matters what finds and touches us deep into our core, that takes us in and won't let us go, if we only let it.

I have learned that things that seem insurmountable are no more difficult than starting at the beginning and seeing where the next step gets you. Sometimes we mess up, but there is always some way to fix the problem and, if we don't know, ask a tried and true friend who has been through the same thing, or is just willing to take the time to talk it through with you. I have learned that the problem is only as big as the energy we give it. I have learned to work hard at becoming someone who creates, rather than destroys or, what's worse, is indifferent to this life. Doing is more than talk, because words will disperse on the air, but actions will linger in ways we cannot imagine. I think that most of all, I have learned how to utilize more of myself in order that I mat be of better service to others. I must admit that I am hopeful to glean more from my knitting, but even if this is what I get, it isn't a bad lot. I would say, I like my lot and the content that it brings through all of the chaos.

I can safely say that I am a knitter for life. I am grateful for the chance to knit, the materials with which to craft, the people with whom to share it and the endless occasions to follow a new path of knowledge.

Friday, October 15, 2010

October Times

Katherine has been getting into her new regime with schooling. We have decided to have a basket full of school related items with workbooks and expect one page to get done each day. I don't think we are asking a lot, but oh BOY, we have been so relaxed about things that, even being warned of our start day, she fell apart at the prospect of doing it! We may be relaxed, but it isn't as if she never does anything, we have just simply never asked for anything particular from her. She draws and makes up stories, makes her own food, paints, crafts and other projects, LOVES being read to, astronomy, field trips to the zoo and other places, and so on and so forth, but to call it work is almost offensive to her. Ha ha! I find it downright hilarious that she does so much stuff all the time, yet she doesn't want it to be called 'work', or to have anything expected of her. This is where her orange streak plays through her blue (you color people know what I am talking about here). What a kid!

After a couple of weeks of no t.v. for her and getting into a routine, she is seeing that it really isn't that much different, just a bit more structured and visibly so. We have things printed off of Paidea Classics for copywork, Usborne workbooks, pens, pencils, stickers for encouragement, and a few other things in the basket. We got this put together primarily because my darling has an obvious orange streak and we wouldn't otherwise be able to find any of these things if they weren't given a home. She does quite well with the copywork and I think her success is related to my reading aloud to her whatever her little heart desires as she plugs away at her task. She gets what she wants and so do I! She is an auditory learner and is quite visual spacial, so it comes in handy that I rather like to read and I can empathize with her since we are incredibly alike. Her interests are as varied and lovely as the stars. She enjoys such a vast scope of wonderful things that it is sometimes hard to imagine her trying to narrow any of this down to fit a career. I suppose she will have to become a homeschool mom just to stay in touch with all of her loves ;o)

We have begun sewing! It is one of the things that I am hoping to help her grown, since it has proved to be her one true love in crafts. One of the things that I adore about being a homeschool mom is learning all of these nuances about my daughter and how her heart grows just a little bit more as she grows into herself and finds her way through this world in such an unabashed manner. Anyway, we have some projects on deck and we are looking forward to getting ontop of them. We are beginning to stash things up as material and patterns have been on sale recently. One of the first things to make is a reusable shopping bag out of a pink floral print cotton she chose. Another is a coat for her that also has a matching jumper. I have a pattern to make some warm fuzzy jammies for Jay. We will see how we do on some of these projects, though I am sure t would help if I would be in full health so as to have the energy, so we shall see.

I am also knitting as much as I can, hoping to finish some things. I am currently working on a pair of felted slip-on slippers for Jay and I hope they turn out, they are my first pair. I have been making hand warmers and I need to make some everyday use ones for myself. I made a pair for each Jay and Katherine and they wear them quite regularly, so I am happy. Jay wasn't quite sure what use they would be, but he soon found out how nice they are to wear and hardly goes out in the crisp of fall without them. These were my first pattern that I put together myself and developed with what I knew about what I was doing and they turned out great! Yay!

Well, I think that is all for now, I had better scoot!