Monday, June 27, 2011

A Tale of Three Finches

For a long time, Katherine has been wanting to attract goldfinches to our feeders, they are her favorite. Jay’s favorite is the Robin Red-Breast, mine is the Red-Winged Blackbird, both of whom regularly avail themselves for our viewing pleasure, but the goldfinch is far more elusive.

We have friends who have a plenteous amount of goldfinches, not 5-7 miles from us. Katherine was so in awe when she saw them on our friends’ feeder, we have been trying to figure out the best way to get them to come, without spending a load on feeders, or special food. They are kinda picky and we only had one on a feeder a couple summers ago.

Ok, so enough of that rambling and onto the real story, you get the point, I think. So, yesterday morning, as we readied ourselves to go to church for the parish feast day, I looked out of the front door and what do I see? A goldfinch. She was sitting there hopping toward the feeder, with hopes of black sunflower seed, I daresay. I called Katherine over to see and told her to be quiet and slow as she came. She was so excited! We listened to the song and we watched as she hopped onto the feeder and then up into the tree after a sparrow decided to ‘share’.

We gathered our things and kept hearing the song of the goldfinch as we made our way to the car. What seemed like only one goldfinch was, in fact, three! They came out, one at a time, and they flew off. We thought that was all we would get, but were mistaken. From tree to rooftop to tree again, we were being followed. A little male goldfinch perched himself in the tree next to where we were parked and we kept being regaled with the sound of the delightful birds who came to send us off.

You can be assured that our feeders are nearly always full of birds, considering I was awakened this morning at 4 a.m. as they fed, which wasn’t the first time, but when they came, the feeders were strangely abandoned, aside from that sparrow. It wasn’t the time of day, since birds will eat whenever there is food and shove each other around. There isn’t any rhyme or reason for things to have been the way they were. I tell Katherine that they came to wish her a happy feast day, especially for her. How more wonderful that there were 3, though seeming as one bird, as a symbol of the Trinity.

If you can’t tell, I think it was pretty fantastic and I am so grateful for such a gift for Katherine. They really are a beautiful bird, whose song seems to float upon the wind while they pitter-pat in your heart a little.

Sometime, I may tell you the story of the dance of the Red-Winged Blackbird on the fence, or the baby bird on the bench.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Into the Tomb

I haven't completely processed the entire day yesterday, it was rather filled with everything, ALL day long! It was good, beginning with waking up and having a latte for breakfast, which Jay popped over to the corner coffee shop and grabbed while I tried to gather myself together. We had to remember a few items before leaving so as to be prepared for everything that followed the most important event of the day...better yet, of the month, or even year, in my opinion. Food, check. Get dressed after drink latte to prevent spillage onto my white top, check. Clean house, courtesy of God's grace, allowing me to properly execute managing of time to accomplish on THURSDAY, check! Water, check. Kat's clothes for afterward at the park, check. Hmm, I think that is it. Oh yeah, prayers to start the day off on the right foot, check!!!

We got to the church at about 10:25ish, with a few minutes to spare and we simply waited. We received a trickle of people who had come to share in this day of Holy Baptism. They began with the Mystery of Confession of sins. One by one, they went to stand before the Holy Cross and Gospel, with Fr. Boris as witness, to confess of their sins before God.

When they finished, we filed into the church, Jay and I at the rear of them, in the doorway of the church. We are the Godparents, Jay for the boys, myself for G. (I think I will abbreviate their names, in case they would rather I not use full names.) We went through the first prayers for the renunciation of evil and the acceptance of Christ before Fr. Boris vested himself to perform the Mystery of Baptism. When he came out in full vestments, he wore white, the color of purity and the Resurrection, a color reserved for feasts of Christ, weddings and baptism. Certainly significant, by no means coincidental, and it represents the soul after baptism, as well. So, he came to bless the waters of the font and then proceed to the most anticipated moment, yet also the quickest.

Mostly, things are now a bit of a blur, as they usually are, but I will share they things that stood out for me. I loved that there were entire families there to support and partake of this glorious day. As with a wedding, it is a day that only really comes once, at least, in the Orthodox Christian's life, that is the intent. So, it is so wonderful to be able to have this day with so many lovely friends and their families.

During the service, I got choked up a couple of times, but it wasn't where I thought I might. It is amazing to be at an Orthodox baptism for grown people and not just babies. It is always wonderful, but there is something particularly special about converts to the Faith. When J pulled back his already short hair, so Fr Boris could anoint his ears and forehead, it was one of the most endearing bits of the entire morning. He is such a fidgety kid, G didn't know if he would able to stand there for the entire time and whether he might bounce around too much (he is a very active 7.5 year old, much to be expected). Just the same, I think he surprised everyone when he quietly participated in the entire service eagerly, with only two little spins in place as he held his candle and cross.

Just when I didn't think that things would seem much different than they had been, they went in the tomb of Christ (the baptismal font) and emerged to put on their blessed garments and crosses. Into the tomb with the old person, out of the tomb clothed in the Grace of God. The expression on all of their faces were changed and all seemed quite childlike, though I don't know that they realized their appearance may have been that way. As Fr. Boris went from one to the next anointing with the oil of Holy Chrism, I noticed how he knelt to reach their feet. It reminded me of the stories of foot washing in the Bible and the humility implied therein. It also made me think about how Fr. Boris, a priest and father of his flock is kneeling before those coming to Christ, which does not happen when it is a baby, since they are held in the arms of the Godparents. I am sure I cannot impart to you the exact particulars here, but you kind of get what I mean.

In all of this, I was very glad to have G's husband involved in the process. Without him, I think she would have been more anxious, considering she was nervous enough with all of his help. By God's Grace, he was there, with a myriad of purpose. He has a good heart and loves his family and I am particularly grateful he could be with us.

In any case, after the seal of the Holy Spirit, the service seemed to fly by, but we were already close to the end. Though the end of a baptism is really a shift in purpose and intent with the whole rest of a Christian's life, not really ending, but a new beginning. Tomorrow, we will partake of the Mystery of Holy Communion. Three Holy Mysteries in three days can seem a bit overwhelming, but it is such a blessing. I am looking forward to it and may find time to write after that also.

I thought that I might be rather effected differently than I was. It was joyful, peaceful and solemn.They came as G, D and J and, by the end, were baptised into Christ and named Mary, David and John, taking on the name of one great-grandmother and two great-grandfather saints of our extensive Christian family. The day will forever be etched in my mind, as I am sure it will be for those who were able to come.

Congratulations to the newly illumined!!! May the God of all send peace, love, wisdom and understanding to us all!

Friday, June 17, 2011


The light begins
And darkness fades
In wounded illness
My soul doth wade
Heart clings to shadow
While brightness brings
Resplendent mystery
New days of spring
Edging forward
Onward, true
I long for peace
I yearn for You.
Unsettled, I stay
With but one sight
I will not sleep
This passing night
Wishing to enfold
And keep this dream
Persistent in manner
Afloat upon a stream
Of illusory delight

Monday, June 13, 2011

Without Words

There is an everlasting struggle
It abides in silence and stealth
Invading minds and hearts
No one is exempt
The only thing eternal is the human soul
I have heard it said
Glory to God for all things
It is more than words
So much harder than thoughts
Applied to daily life
Practice peace and prayer
The rest will come
It will slip in as quietly as the silence
That begs to steal your heart
Putting to shame
The efforts of the ungodly
May the Lord of all be with us
In all corners and facets of life
Peace, Love and Light to all

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Update and Thoughts

We have been without internet for a week at this point and I am finding it somewhat of a relief. To be sure, I like to obsessively check my email just as much as the next person, but this has been freeing. At first, I had a few withdrawals, as it was a regular part of my morning routine, but now I find peace in it. Maybe it will last a little longer, perhaps a lot longer, who knows for sure.

We have gotten 3 goldfish in the last 2 weeks, because we lost 1, then 2, now we only have Ponyo, while Goldie (the first, and most beloved, rests peacefully at the foot of our tomato plant, Bertha. Bertha is in a container on the patio and Katherine buried him and, after crying from a broken heart, framed his tiny grave in yellow roses and set a little wooden cross as a headstone. She even took the time to inscribe initials, date and hearts on it. I know it is sad to lose a pet, especially when you've only had it a week, but I am grateful for the opportunity for her to learn a little more about loss. This life is bittersweet and I do not find that my job is done well if all I ever offer is sunshine and roses. My job as her parent is to guide her through many of her triumphs and trials as a child, so that when she is grown, she is equip to manage those things I her life that come to her. At the very center of that, I pray that God give me strength and lead me to the best way to do these things and also to turn her heart where it ought to be.

About that tomato plant, it is ENORMOUS! I am looking forward to reaping the fruit of its massive growth. It is seriously huge! I never, in all my life thought it could get quite so large in a pot on the patio, but it is thriving on lovely organic, fertilized soil, sunshine from above, water and God's will. There are so many tiny fruits that are green and I am imagining them with the greek mini basil that is healthily growing in another pot around the corner. YUM!!!

We have had some really great evenings of hanging out, as a family, or with friends, and bbqing. This is the start of a relaxing summer and I am trying to appreciate it all before I let myself get the better of me, but you never know, I may end up letting the summer fade into Katherine's birthday and fall away into autumn in a warm and calming wave. We shall see how everything plays out. I am actually particularly happy that we have made it to the pool with Katherine nearly every day since it opened (it is across the street in our condo complex, otherwise, it wouldn't be like that!). She loves to swim and sometimes we go in the evening when everyone else has packed it up for the day to go home for dinner and we have the pool to ourselves.

There are moments when I dream a lovely dream of living in the woods, or mountains by a stream, or a little farm, you can imagine where I am going with it. Anyway, I find a bit of unrest being in the city, but I am trying to glean from the city what I can, because it isn't likely that our situation will change any time soon. I have always been a 'bloom where you're planted' kind of girl, and I truly am, but it has been a bit rough lately when the family is at such peace in nature and Katherine wants so badly to run off into the wilderness to live with the creatures. There is a part of me that wants to give it to her, but the other part wants to help her to be in this world, but not of this world.

I have also seemed to come to a point in my life where I cannot see past now. I find it difficult to imagine what more life can bring, than what I have already known. When Father Boris gave the homily on sunday, among many things, there was a part that really struck a chord inside, where he pointed out that we need to pray for peace and long-suffering. If I have learned nothing, it is that much is gained through suffering, no matter how great or small. There is much to be understood, uncovered and brought to light, when forging our ways through this life. If I pray for peace in this long-suffering, which this corporal life has plenty to offer, it will help me embrace all situations. (I am not sure I will be able to really convey what I am trying to say with this, but bear with me the best you can.) When striving to be in this world but not of it, there will be some sort of suffering and in an average life, it will likely turn to a long-suffering. Patience, perseverance and prayer all come with long-suffering, which can turn trials into triumphs where ever the heart chooses to lie. Do I follow a path where life is nothing but stings and arrows causing scars and pain, or do I go to the spiritual hospital for healing, comfort and peace? The choice is not always hard, but keeping the answer to that question alive within ourselves can be more struggle than is always welcome. A peaceful and humble heart in God is what I desire and so I must take up each challenge and joy with the same direction and intent. My emotion will not swallow me, if where I put my trust is in the tried and true measure of prayer in long-suffering. I do believe that it is also perfectly reasonable to think that suffering is not always the picture that we might imagine and can be totally different with each person. Ok, I think that is all I can manage for now, but I may visit it again later.

Well, that was longer than I meant it to all be, and my time is up and I am set to go home so I can head back out the door to go to knitting, yay! I am currently trying a new stitch on a pair of topless mittens. My mommy got me the yarn when we were visiting and I am really enjoying working with it, the colors and texture are superior. Her rule is that she will only get me special yarn if I make something for myself, so this will be interesting and we will see how they turn out. So far, so good!