Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Junk Thoughts


Waking up this morning, I lay in bed enjoying the warmth, as the early mornings now have a chill to them. I realized what an inner conversation was going on, empty chatter! I pushed my thoughts outside of my head to the icons on the wall. The eyes of each icon were looking at me. Behind the eyes were definite Presences. The chatter immediately stopped and there was silence.

Yesterday I stayed for lunch after the Sunday morning liturgy at church. I enjoyed the people and conversations. As I talked and listened, I realized that there is a sharing of love that happens in communication between people. Communication puts you outside of the stew of meaningless personal thoughts...empty thoughts. Conversation involves you.

Attention to the noise in my head is primary to my happiness. I feel happy when empty thoughts are not chewing on me. These thoughts involve guilt, fear, worry, sometimes they just are totally meaningless and are eating up my time. I can choose to listen to the bombardment of thoughts or I can simply redirect my attention to something, someone else.

In prayer, how often I am thinking other things, rather than paying attention to the person (Jesus Christ, the Theotokos, the saints), to whom I am praying. 

The clue is listening. If I am listening as I pray then I am not involved in junk thoughts. I was surprised when I realized the joy involved when they are not present. What an oppressor they are!

One could equivocate them to reading a bad book. You wonder why you are reading it? You find an interesting angle perhaps here and there, but mainly it is a time sucker and a downer. Perhaps the thoughts involve you with an imaginary problem to solve. Some dreams are like that. Do you really want to spend time solving that problem?

Joy is connected to things that link you to another in Love. 


I can count on God to have something to say that is entirely worth hearing. If the people around me don't, then where is someone that does? 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Suicide


In a country, and perhaps the Western world, which is more and more self absorbed, and focused on personal desires and freedom from rules and morals that have held society together; suicide has become more common. 

People say, "You can understand why they did that. They were depressed. Depression is an illness from which one can not escape." Or... "They didn't want to grow old and become a burden on their families." How many remember their 'old' grandparents with love and are thankful for them and the lessons that they taught?

I know people who were depressed that did go on, so perhaps depression can be overcome. There are people who have been through tortuous times in concentration camps, and communist prisons, who have lost all that they had and with every right to despair, didn't. They came out of horrible situations as better and stronger people. In their struggle they looked to God rather than to their own solutions. They traveled the path that was set before them, and even though hard, were enriched because of it. 

If we look only to ourselves and our reasoning for solutions, we sink into despair and depression. It is through focusing on others and on God that we are able to rise above our own thinking. I would add, if one is trapped in his own thinking, then it is probably not only his own, but colored by the negative influence of evil suggestion. If you stop and really listen to what is going on in your head, you know that it is not all from you.

We as human beings are people of community. Those closest to us, the ones that we love the most, and love us the most, become little parts of us and we them. The very act of suicide cuts us out of that person's being, and cuts them from our being. Do you know someone whom you were close to, that committed suicide? Feel how that death affected you, and compare that death with the death of a person that you loved who died by natural circumstances. One feels the difference. How do those differences feel to you. Suicide is not an act of love, it is an act of selfishness. Despair stems from a self focus.

God is Love in the highest sense. We strive to be good and loving people. If we are aiming our sights at what is truly loving and not just self pleasing, then we are participating in an act of cooperation with the Divine. That may and does involve suffering. Suffering if turned into prayer for others works miracles. What better gift can one give those they love than continuing to love, even though suffering, rather than leaving a legacy of despair.

I would like to share two quotes that have been circling in my mind: 

"...pain and suffering drive one to seek a more profound happiness beyond the limitations of this world." Fr Seraphim Rose

And a small piece of a prayer:  

"Preserve me from every inward and outward impulse that is unpleasant in your sight and hurtful to my brother." Elder Sophrony of Essex

With God, Peace is to be found.

Water Tapestry © Claire Brandenburg

Monday, August 14, 2017

Fall

Fall to me is often a time of beginning.  I think that goes back to my school days. I always looked forward to school; lets see what I learn this fall.

I have been keeping a book mark that was sent to me by Eighth Day Books, in Wichita, KS.  Warren the owner always thoughtfully provides some wonderful quotes on his bookmarks. I always keep them and think about the ideas on them before I actually use them for bookmarks.

Here is this one:

You cannot be too gentle, too kind. Shun even to appear harsh in your treatment of each other.  Joy, radiant joy, streams from the face of him who gives and kindles joy in the heart of him who receives. All condemnation is from the devil. Never condemn each other... 
Instead of condemning others, strive to reach inner peace. Keep silent, refrain from judgement.  This will raise you above the deadly arrows of slander, insult, and outrage, and will shield your glowing hearts against all evil.
-St. Seraphim of Sarov

Here is what this makes me think of:

I ran across a man some days ago who felt to me like a very aggressive beggar. Being very polite: 'Hello, how are you today ma'am. Lovely day. etc."

Immediately I thought, "this guy wants something".

Then when I came out of the store with my groceries. "Do you have a spare  dollar?

"No thank you," I said.

"How about one of those beers?"

"I thought that would be high on your list. No."

He laughed.

Here was a man that was shopping at the grocery store for what he wanted from the outside.  He was waiting for the grocery list that he had in his pocket to be filled from the carts that came out of the door. High on his list I think was the alcohol.
What should I have done with that? How could I have said yes to him though, I felt offended at his false politeness, offended at his plan to ask for money when I came out, offended at his visual sorting though my groceries to see what he wanted that I had purchased.

I have really struggled with this situation. Here is what hits my heart in the above quote and pulled the cord of memory in this situation.

Instead of condemning others, strive to reach inner peace. Keep silent, refrain from judgement.  This will raise you above the deadly arrows of slander, insult, and outrage, and will shield your glowing hearts against all evil.

I did judge. I felt insulted and outraged at his journey through my groceries looking for the one thing on his mind.

I had trouble getting rid of this. I talked to my priest and friends, discussing the situation. My priest said, always find a little thing that you can give. It doesn't need to be what is asked for, but give something.

Finally after tumbling this around in my mind over and over, I came to the conclusion that I should make St. Phanourios Bread and keep some in the car to give as a treat to people that want what I feel I can not give. I bought some oranges and am ready to begin. Some recipes call for brandy, but I have used a recipe like the one below.  A caution, mix the orange juice in a large container, using only fresh juice, when mixed with the baking soda it will fizz way up so that mixture needs plenty of head room.
Thinking it would be good to ask for something in return...prayer for St. Phanourios' mother.


See St. Phanourius Bread: http://orthodoxandvegan.com/2015/08/27/st-phanourios-and-the-phanouropita-recipe-included/

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Blessed Nativity!

Byzantine Arabic Nativity Troparian at its finest
A Blessed Nativity to you!




https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvjiVam2HO4

Sunday, June 1, 2014







I had an interesting walk this morning.  I had watched the movie, "The Way" about the road, El Camino de Santiago (The road of St. James)  which starts in the Great Pyrenees in France and continues into Spain to the Santiango de Campostella.  It is a good film.  I have always been intrigued by pilgrims walking great distances to pilgrimage sites; of course that is not an unusual thing in Northern New Mexico where many people walk at Easter to the church in Chimayo and/or the church in Santa Cruz.

 There is a wonderful book called "The Mystery of the Wonderworker of Ostrog" (St. Basil of Ostrog) that discusses a pilgrimage into the mountains of Serbia, up high rocky passes to the cave church and monastery of St. Basil with pilgrims often crawling the last bit before they reach the top.

At any rate, watching the film spurred me on to walk to the mailbox which is a mile from home. Not much of a pilgrimage I admit, but started thinking....Every new day is a journey.  What if I thought of it that way and actually prayed the prayer for a journey on land from the Orthodox prayer book each day.   With that thought in mind I began.  I walked about half way down the road and got a rock in my shoe so sat down on a telephone box and shook it out.  About the time I was putting my shoe back on there came a woman walking past me. I didn't realize she was even behind me.  I could tell by her legs that she knew what walking was about.  I said, "Got a rock in my shoe."  She said, "Rocks feel really big when they are in your shoe, but when you take them out they are very small." I said, "Yes, I know what you mean."  So we kept walking and she who was walking much faster than I, when on her way.  I realized that I still had the rock in my shoe so went on to the mailbox and leaned against it and took it out.  It was a little rock.  How like our problems, that seem so large and turn out to be nothing much.

As an afterward...in "In the Way" a pilgrim starts out with a rock that is given to him and is told to put it down when he feels the time is right to do that.  I kept that little rock and have it in my purse, thinking I will know when to set it down. Certainly the worries that I carry with me should be set down at once as they are really quite small though I work them up into giants.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Illusion



Illusion


As I drive
 miles
are rushing behind me.

Before me an object on
the road.

I ask myself.
an obstacle?

Something fallen?

An animal perhaps
right there-
laying across the road?

But as I approach
its darkness
takes the form
of a shadow only-
that I pass over
at 65 MPH.

But wait-
that was no shadow
but a masked
Sun.


Monday, February 17, 2014

Holy Cross Road



On Santa Cruz Road


Does your heart ever say, 
let it be so forever?

Today even though it seems
A trivial thing, 
I cried aloud,
Yes! Let it be so forever!

The object of my eye was a 
cottonwood limb.
It hangs like a teacup handle over the 
road to Santa Cruz.

The tree has seen at least two hundred years
of history, 
passing back and forth along that road.

That branch alone must be as big around 
as my chest 
under which my heart hangs
beating.

How the image of it burns in my mind.
How I weep at its predictable fall.
Something dear will be gone 
And so seemingly will those two hundred years.

And I will sigh and weep perhaps,
because it will hurt my heart.

And then there will be a time that
no one will remember that it was even there, 
that teacup handle pouring out golden leaves in autumn.

But I wonder, will that tree that has heartened me, 
live in Paradise?

Will what we have loved in God's Creation,
be part of the world to come?

I think ... yes.



На дороге в Санта-Круз 

Ваше сердце когда-нибудь говорило -
"Пусть будет так всегда" ?
Это может показаться неуместным,
Но я сегодня плакала во весь голос -
"Да! Пусть будет так всегда!"

Я смотрела на ветвь тополя.
Она висит, похожая на ручку чайной чашки, 
над дорогой в Санта-Круз.
Чудесное творение Божие !

Это дерево свидетельствует в течении 
более двухсот лет,
как по этой дороге проходят туда и обратно.

Эта ветвь должна быть столь же большой, 
как моя грудная клетка,
под которой бьется мое сердце.

Этот образ так и стоит в моей памяти.
Я грустно вздыхаю, думая что когда-нибудь он исчезнет,
А вместе с ним - и память об этих прошедших двух столетиях.

И может быть я буду вздыхать и плакать,
чувствуя грусть в своем сердце.
А потом придет время, когда
никто не будет помнить, как это было тогда,
когда та ручка от чашки излучала свет золотых осенних листьев.

Но мне интересно - дерево, которое так радовало меня,
будет жить в раю?
Будут ли творения Божии, которые мы полюбили,
частью мира грядущего?

Я думаю ..... да .


Translation by Neonilla Kovalevskaya