Monday, December 21, 2009

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Thoughts on the coming Nativity of Jesus Christ


I ordered from Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY, book 2, of their book series of Akathists (prayers for a specific feast day or a saint). In it is the Akathist Hymn to the Nativity of Christ. It is very lovely, powerful and moving!

This morning into the prayer, I accidentally inserted a word that wasn't there, but evokes a great and powerful thought. Brokenness.

We are broken in our sinfulness. There are slights to others where we do not show love but our own self will. We have made ourselves little gods, wanting things to be the way we command them, we want to create others in our image, in fact we want to create God in our image. It is hardly even necessary to mention the common equation of sinfulness which elicits ideas of stealing, murder etc.

We see ordinary people around us that are broken. People hiding behind a wall of protection so their god-ship won't be threatened. People mentally off in another world of their own devising. The here and now, true reality is hard to deal with. We can't change it and we can't change the truth of it.

I used to see a young man who wandering around town talking to himself, wearing a thin blanket for a coat in the deepest cold, mentally somewhere else. Talking to him, he seemed not unhappy with his blanket and was sure that someone was coming to help him but not wanting help in the way of a coat. There was something unbalanced and unwholesome about him that I could feel. People like that are scary.

It actually is frightening to get into their space. They are off in a particularly unhealthy "broken" world. Somehow I always feel scared when I talk to them. I sense that I might somehow get sucked into the vortex and get broken like they are. "Broken like they are" applies to all manner of brokenness. Broken is scary in what ever way it is shaped and thus the person maintaining it is scary.

Into that picture you see God, the King of Creation and Glory who condescended to be born as a man, one of his creatures. He set himself right down smack dab in the middle of the brokenness of the world, and sure enough He got broken. At least it looked that way. But there is a miracle here at play.

He knew that it would be painful. He knew that it would cost Him his human life but, He also knew -that which breaks-evil, could not "break" His Life. That in entering His creature He transformed the ability of His creature to enter His Life and become One with It. By His physical birth, the Well-Spring of His Life was invested in us, giving us the doorway back to Him.

The (Life) Spring does not function very well unless we do the things that help it to flow, unless we get the lid of off of it and enlarge the opening. The Eucharist builds that doorway mystically. That is why it is important to participate in His Church.
He begins to operate fully within us and we grow in His Life in accordance to our allowing Him to enter ours.
We weed, He makes Life grow in abundance.
Faith in that Well -Spring Life not our life is the focus. All goodness flows from that kind of Faith.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving



We are off tomorrow to spend Thanksgiving day with our children and new grandchild. What a lovely thing. I am taking wine and flowers. I think that is a great thing to be thankful for...imagine not cooking Thanksgiving dinner. Really sweet, on top of that spending a day in warm Albuquerque, with people that we love. Thanks be to God! I am looking forward to that!

I went to Albertson's and looked through their cut flower department, purchasing 3 bunches and then added some berries from a plant that I just love. I don't know what it is called, it has been growing in our front yard for about 30 years. We dug it up in the orchard at the top of the road. The seeds that started it had to come on the crest of the ditch water, flowing out of Taos Canyon. The shrub is a wonderful bird attractor because of the red berries and beautiful with bright orange leaves in the fall and yellow flowers against dark green leaves in the spring. I love to sit in my bedroom and listen to the birds talking about how good the berries are. They are very pleased about having such lovely things to eat.



I picked the wine at Susan's Fine Wine and Spirits in Santa Fe. The two wines were highly recommended by Nathan. They are Charles and Charles, Red 2007 and House Wine, The Magnificent Wine Company...both funny labels and happy looking bottles. Along with them are some Meiers Sparkling Catawba and Kristian Regale, Sparkling Ligonberry, Apple Juice. Sounds all good to me and looks very festive all in all.



Happy Thanksgiving to you!!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

That We All May Be One


Tomorrow we are off to a memorial service for my dear brother, Bill.

I seem this morning to be very conscious of all of the people who are in my life. He being one of them. It is incredible how God has given us some people that we particularly focus on, people whose lives we share intimately. They feel part of us, yet separate and because they are separate we yearn for them to obtain the best and the highest that we know. Not knowing what they know and how they think in depth, in many ways we don't know them at all. In ways they are strangers.

My mind comes back to the line - 'that we all may be One'. Separation is a terrible thing.
It comes down to God (again and again). God knows them. God seeks the best for them.
God loves them deeply and thoroughly. In what way are they mine?

If I have something that I think is beautiful, something very special, I want to share it with people that I love (most of all!) If I have a treasure, I want them to have it too.
Prayer is the gateway to sharing the treasure. That is the way they are mine.

There is a beautiful line in the prayer service - 'Treasury of blessing, giver of Life come and abide in us cleanse us of every impurity and save our souls O Good One!'

The Kursk Icon of the Mother of God is visiting Santa Fe, St. Juliana's Church there...It will also visit Holy Trinity. I feel that it blesses us who will be gathering for the service as well. Knowing is a wonderful link.

The Kursk Icon is a Wonderworking icon and is highly venerated in the Orthodox Church. Found in the Kursk forests in Russia, it survived war, it escaped the Communist take over of Russia and has traveled now all over the world bringing blessing to all who venerate it, healing disease, hearts and minds.

May the Kursk Mother of God bless all of us gathering, may She bless those who will not be able to come, and may She intercede for us all at the throne of her son and our God, and give us great consolation!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Pocket Full of Pups



Here are some doggie home companions that are very sweet little friends. They belong to our daughter and they are temporarily being our pups. They follow me every where and like to sit wherever I am at work or play.


I was sitting here at my computer with the UPS tracking site pulled up, wondering what on earth has happened to my Mother's bathrobe, that was coming by UPS. Shows that it should be in Taos, even though it was supposed to go to Carlsbad.


I thought I heard a truck drive up in the front of the house. Lately have been thinking that I have been imagining that trucks driving up in front of the house and wonder where the sounds are coming from...but I guess what I heard are trucks, as there was one there. It and it's occupants were looking for my sister in law up the road. The young man that was driving looked familiar and I said, "Your face is familiar." He says, "UPS". In the conversation he gave me the telephone number for the local UPS office and said they will be open Monday at 8:00. Maybe I can pick up the robe before I head south to see her in Carlsbad.


That was interesting timing. It would have taken me all morning to research that. Our Lord and God, continually sends us consolations and delights in small mysterious ways.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Discernment


From a dream:


The objects fit into the uniquely shaped case with no space left. Everything had its place and did not have to be squeezed in, yet there was no room either for things to rattle around. It was a perfect piece of packing.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Make the Shoe Fit


I had a thought provoking dream in the night. Many dreams are worthless, sometimes imparting to one a sense of worthlessness or anger, or other destructive message, but this one had something interesting to look at.

In the dream there was a man with authority that was showing me some shoes. The person in the dream that he was speaking to was me, but not me. (an abstract me)... I felt that I was being shown a universal truth, as well as a personal one.

He pointed out some shoes, a certain style though the same brand that I wear, that x wore, who was no longer here. The shoes that x wore had certain virtues associated with them and not everyone was comfortable in them. He said that even though one could not become x, as x was uniquely him or herself, or even take x's place, there were qualities that x manifested, that were worth emulating. The shoes that x wore in this case represented x's Christ-Like qualities. This was not about power or a worldly quality, but this was about sweetness of soul, generosity of spirit and a loving understanding of others.

A caution here: Philipians 2:20-21 ie: Looking for someone likeminded- "For all seek their own, not the things of Christ Jesus."

There are some things that I have read in the past day that linger and somehow inhance this in my heart.

Yesterday was one of the commemoration days of St. John of Kronstadt, his death day. He was a truly great saint of this time. In his biography it says, "-John thought about the importance of forgiveness, meekness, and love, and came to believe that these were the very center and power of Christianity, and that only one path - the path of humble love - leads to God and the triumph of His righteousness." www.oca.org- under Feasts and Saints.




Another strong and most important idea from a book that I am reading has been circulating in my mind. When Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane with His apostles, He knew that His arrest was immanent and He asked His apostles to wait with Him, to sit with Him. They couldn't do it, they kept falling asleep. He was clearly in a state of agitation, but they were not, and they could not share or understand His knowledge of what was ahead, and so abandoned Him to aloneness. The book that I am reading (which I would highly recommend, The Power of the Name, The History and Practices of the Jesus Prayer by Alphonse and Rachel Goetmann), points out that after the death and crucifixion of Jesus... He for whom his apostles could not wait, now waits with us and is present for us at our call. (The power of the Resurrection!) And indeed sticks to us like glue, as a Companion in our need. The call is the operative here, the heartfelt call to Him who is the Companion of all companions.

Remembering the beauty of the person who is gone,
Remembering meekness, forgiveness, and love,
Remembering Christ who is with us as a Companion, to help us grow and flourish in the best of ways if we ask for that direction;
...being mindful of those thoughts....it seems that the message of that dream is to practice the beauty of the loved one by holding it and cherishing it in the heart. That is the most fitting memorial to someone of great worth. To put on the shoes that represent the glory of that soul that God placed in human form, and wear that beauty as something seen and acknowledged.
Perhaps that is the way of keeping and cherishing that person who is alive in our hearts.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Quote for the Day



Moses and the Burning Bush

“O, Moses, because you are straining with so great a desire for that which is before you and there is no weariness in your progress, know that the spaces around you are so vast you will never reach the end of your journey. Here there is only motionlessness. I set you on the rock; and now there occurs the most astonishing thing of all: for here to be in motion, and to be unmoving, are the same thing. Here he who advances stops, and he who stops advances, and he advances by the very fact that he is motionless.

De Vita Moyisi, 405 AD
Gregory of Nyssa

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Pouring in Buckets



This morning a thunder storm was brewing and rumbling in the mountain valleys and down the slopes. The dogs were worried and burrowed down under the covers with me and lay next to me in the darkness. The cat started meowing as well and so the better part of valor was to leap up and get on with the day. It was literally calling to us in a fine deep voice.

I have begun a painting for a fundraising event, a small retablo. This amounts to a board, that has been sanded...I coated it with many coats of gesso and am working on an image which pictures golden aspens in the top corner, with land falling away into deep mountain valley with a stream at the bottom. It is remembered from our trip into the mountains the other day, and actually many trips to places like this. There is one incredible view near Heron Lake south of Chama...the cliffs drop away like this, but it is a much rockier drop.

Always spectacular is that spectacle of land soaring above us or dropping to a depth below us.
I think perhaps because it is a surprise. One expects things to go on at the same level, in the same tone. I think people either seek out surprises, or they like to live where things remain flat and predictable. One faction has trouble understanding the other.
Now I can't tell you where this is going, but this is something to think about.


I for one love the unpredictable. I love to watch God work in it. My trouble comes when things are the same. I want to jump in the car and go somewhere else where the views wake me up out of what seems to be a sameness. Yet I know that every day has its variety. There will never be day that is the same. Perhaps the challenge comes in really seeing the day.


Here is a saint for you. Blind Matrona of Moscow. She was blind but was a great seer.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

On Judgement


If your Father in Heaven knew something negative about someone, true or not, would he repeat it to someone else, acknowledging that sinfulness and making it yet more real? God forbid!
Would He repeat it in His mind and turn it over, examining it in His mind, dwelling on it??? God Forbid!
A Loving God forgives. Ask forgiveness for the sin for your brother/sister and be finished with your thought of it.

Lord save us from judgement of our friends and neighbors and all we come in contact with.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Surprising Grace

It is a beautiful cool dawn here. Silver light is shining through the Russian Olives outside my studio window. The frosts have come and nipped the growing things so the fields are golden. It is a nice thought that all the things that we grew in the garden are in the house and mostly dealt with in some form or another. Below is a photo of some plums our neighbor brought that made the most wonderful plum jam. Delicious!


I roasted tomatoes and onion with Italian herbs and garlic in a big turkey roaster day before yesterday, using a recipe from my daughter-in-law, Ayesha. It makes a wonderful pizza topper or spaghetti sauce.

Simply wash the tomatoes and add as much bay leaf, parsley, oregano, basil, onion and garlic (and whatever else sounds good) as you want, placing all in a roasting pan and roast in a 300 degree oven for as long as it takes to evaporate most of the liquid. Ours were particularly juicy tomatoes and so it took an afternoon and there was still to much liquid and so left them all night at 200 degrees, and then the next morning at 300 until noon. It was a very full roaster. I meant to take a picture of the pan full as it was so beautiful but...

I had to clean the oven, but it created the most wonderful toasty tomato sauce!

There are more ripening on the table, a bumper crop. We planted Early Girl which we have always had wonderful success with. There is also a good cherry tomato that is part of the mix. My husband says that compost mixed in with the soil when he plants is the secret of their success.

We had some surprise pumpkins that came up in the compost bin. I dug one up and planted it next to the irrigation ditch thinking that it was a winter squash, lo and behold it turned out to be pumpkin. I had the two that it produced in the house and found a third one that was still green before the hard frost.

I am always amazed at the surprises that gardening produces. One expects a certain outcome more or less, but there are always those remarkable surprises that show themselves and leave one somehow awed at the small unimaginable gift that comes or the abundance of the crop. What Grace! What delight!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

God's Remarkable Timing


My trip south was a timely one as my brother, William Edward (Bill) Wilson reposed in the Lord on Tuesday, on the afternoon that I arrived to be with my mother for a few days. It was rather amazing that I was there with her, a surprising thing.

On my visit to see my Mother we had spent the morning and afternoon driving all over the surrounding community visiting old and favorite spots. Mind you, that is two generations of favorite spots. We stopped in the afternoon a little after 4:00 at the cemetery to visit my father's grave.

It seemed strange and disorienting, as we tried to find the right row, for there was a canopy over the area about where my father's headstone should be. Then I thought maybe I had the wrong row, but I was in the right location. My mother's burial plot is next to my father's headstone and the canopy was at the grave plot next to that.

During the time that we were out of the car, my sister-in-law called and left a message on the phone notifying us of Bill 's passing. I had left the phone in the car and so didn't get it right away.

It was just so strange and lovely. Seemingly a message of Bill's passing into God's hands; A very gentle and sweet honoring of Bill, who was a very unique, loving and remarkable person.
May his memory be eternal!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Struggle


This has been a period of struggle for me. My Mother who was living with us, fell and needed a lot of pretty intense nursing. She now is in a nursing home in our home town several hours from us. It is a beautiful place, a Christian nursing home and the people there reflect Christ. They are caring and very sweet, as is the community that is there.

There are still details that need to be taken care of and I plan to drive down there again this next week to see if they can be accomplished. There is also a certain worry about her though I know she is living where and how she wants to. It seemed to me that it was like I was taking her to college, in a way yes...though she is more helpless as she is almost blind and very hard of hearing, so worries about how she is able to get along. Something I need to shed as I know God is watching over her and that there are people there to help her.

This morning's reading of the Matin's Gospel speaks to that. It is one of my favorite readings and one that Mother and I discussed before she went off on this adventure.


John 10:9-16 (Matins Gospel)
9
I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.
10
The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
11
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.
12
But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them.
13
The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep.
14
I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.
15
As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.
16
And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.


In many ways I see myself (and my own ablility to help myself )as the 'hireling'. I am totally at the mercy of those that want to chase me away from the flock and my center which is Christ.

Here I am set to watch over myself and keep myself on the right road, in a happy space and at peace. Not so easy when one becomes shaken and troubled.

Jesus is the Shepherd, thank God! I just need to say 'Uncle' and let Him be the Shepherd.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Tumbled Stone


I have just received the advance copies of The Tumbled Stone, my new book printed by Holy Protection Monastery's, New Varatec Press. The printer did a beautiful job...Regent Printers, NY City...having that office here in the US and one also in Hong Kong, with the printing done in China.
The last email I got from Michael Buening, my contact in New York was trying to locate the Abbess of the monastery so that she could sign a power of attorney, for an attorney, to act as her agent in getting the books through customs. The letter came to me as an email attachment and was sent back to New Jersey to the brother of the Abbess, who then delivered it to her and it was then sent by mail to the Port Authority in Jamaica, NY. Only with email could something like that be accomplished so quickly!
I was involved with the pre-press work on this book, which I have not done before, and it was and is an amazing education. Who would think that there are attorneys whose job it is to get projects like this book through customs.
Once the paper with her signature is received on that end it will be trucked across the US to a small rural area of Colorado west of Colorado Springs. All in all an amazing process in how things get where they are going.
The book looks great. It is exciting to see it in a bound edition. I made some mock ups of the book to send to reviewers so it doesn't really seem as fresh and novel as it would have if I had not done that, but it is good to see all of the special additions to the graphic end of it that our daughter Catherine added. It looks very nice...though I still miss the purple end papers.
To order:
Call 719-748-3999 or write Holy Protection Monastery, P. O. Box 416, Lake George, CO 80827-Price $14.95

Monday, August 17, 2009

On Hold

Just a quick note, My mother has fallen and broken her wrist, needing constant care now for two weeks. We are in an intense place and moving her into a nursing home possibly this week.
Of constant benifit to me in this time is the Jesus Prayer. Thanks be to God for this prayer of the heart.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Righteous Fr. Seraphim Rose

I have a photo on the wall in my studio, that is a photograph of Fr. Seraphim walking down the dirt lane between the buildings at the Monastery of St. Herman of Alaska outside of Platina California. It is in the book that was published by the Brotherhood on him, Father Seraphim Rose, His Life and Works, by Hieromonk Damascene.


In the photograph it is a snowy morning. A light dusting of snow is on the ground around the buildings; but the road itself is mostly bare. The air in the distance behind the figure is a soft blur of fog or of light snow.


I love to look at the figure of Fr. Seraphim. The is a quietness and a peace about his form, a solidity in his walk and a presence in that photograph that makes me expect him to arrive here soon, for he is just a little bit down the road.


Several years ago I sat at his grave praying for something, I didn't really know what it was. God knows.


Now as I sit and look at his figure I think I was praying for that same peace and acceptance of life as it is in every moment which is given to us, as I perceive that I see in his figure. It is good to realize for myself what my prayer was about. I feel that knowing what one prays for is 85% of any prayer.

Photo courtesy of St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, Hieromonk Damescene, Author

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Off for a bit


I am off in the morning for a short trip to Colorado and will be gone for a few days.

Thought I had better get something written in my discipline of writing here once a week at least.


I picked up the book, Bread and Water, Wine and Oil by Archimandrite Meletios Webber. I have found the first chapter stunning. Some wonderful exploration of the human mind vs. the heart.

One that gives me pause to think. I am paraphrasing...When we see someone we don't know, we judge them in some way, peg them, so that the mind can understand them.

Hmm, said I, yes indeed that is true.

The author suggests a practice of being aware of that, and resisting that urge to do so.

Very thought provoking.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Saints Peter and Paul







I found this wonderful Akathist on line at the website of St.s Peter and Paul Antiochian Church in Topeka, KS. Http://peterandpaul.net/node. ..if you too would like to have it.



What a treasure it was to pray this during the fast. How enriching! How lovely of that Church to provide food for the hungry!

As I proceeded in the fast I became curious where St. Peter and St. Paul's relics actually were in Rome. I knew of course that St. Peter's were under the Basilica in Rome and knew that St. Paul was was martyred at the same time according to Church Tradition...during the reign of Nero. Many Christians were martyred during that time. As Nero set fire to an area of Rome to destroy an unsightly neighborhood, much of Rome caught fire. As a result of the furor over so much of Rome burning, Nero, felt it expedient to blame the Christians as the culprits and the instigators of the trouble and so began the martyrdom of many.


I went again to Google Earth and explored the areas where the relics of St.s Peter and Paul are noted.

But that wasn't enough. I wished that I could understand more. I searched the web and came across the book, The Archeology of the New Testament, The Mediterranean World of the Early Christian Apostles by Jack Finegan, Westview Press, Croom Helm 1981. I ordered it and sure enough it provides much of the information that I had been seeking. The book discusses the tombs of those saints as well as providing information on others. It is hard to know where some of the place locations currently are from Bibical reference as many place names have been changed.

Mr. Finegan lists references of the writings by authors of the time , one of the things that I wished that I had access to, as well as mapping and the description of locations. I will include here this wonderful map of the catacombs, from page 32, of the above book,

which stunned me as I saw the names and locations of the relics of saints that are patrons to many in the Orthodox world. (Sadly this can't be any bigger than this, but get the book and you will love what you see.) This book is a wonderful treasury of information. If you are interested in knowing the early saints in a personal way this is a marvelous help in that journey.

I know a Pricilla (#4) for instance who would surely welcome this map.

I also have to say how very awesome where the lives and the energies of St.s Peter and Paul. What they did was stunning!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Small Quiet Room


I have always felt a special attraction to small quiet simple rooms. They always seem to contain in a very special way. I remember many small rooms that seemed to have special grace.

One of those was a very small room, I think it was actually a container that had been given wooden walls inside. There was nothing in it but chairs around a table. The feeling that lay under the "furnishings" was quite profound. It was in a Orthodox women's monastery, clearly that room had been used to pray in and to be focused on the One Thing Needful. That unseen but felt silence, filled the space in a way that nothing else could.




Another room that has been a special place, is an outdoor room. We seem, as we have lived in our home over the years, to have divided up the space into small intimate spaces. Not intentionally, but it was a home built in the 70's, and I guess for that reason the home itself has lots of small rooms. We had a lot of space around us and realized as we went along that somehow we needed the boundary that a fence offered in our back yard. It marked the area that we needed to care for, as well as giving a sense of order. As we got just a bit older, we decided that we didn't really want so much to care for and so closed off a small part of that yard and created a very small yard that has wild grass and things that need almost no maintenance.




My husband's study looks out on this little intimate yard. It has been the home of a little cottontail for about 5 years. My husband became very friendly with this rabbit and the rabbit grew used to my husband's voice and didn't feel like she needed to hide when he was close. She sensed my husband's regard for her I think. Sadly she died the other day, not the victim of one of the kiyi-ing coyotes, but seemingly of old age. He found her in the driveway with no apparent injury. He was very sad, not surprisingly. They saw each other all summer long for those years, enclosed in that small fenced yard that opened into the bigger view of the hill beyond and the mountain. The yard offered her protection and a small tree to sit under, with a hole between the aspen log fence into the car port, giving her a quick out, if the red tail hawk was cruising. That yard was the stage for that relationship, which is especially dear to my husband.

I have been pondering a small intimate room, a place free of things...a place to be still.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Thought For The Day











As I have said before, I am highly interested in Pilgrimage. I would love to wander the world in search of Holy Sites.



My legs have been bothering me so much. I have been on a plan of doing errands, gardening etc. in the morning and keeping my legs up in the afternoon with leg rests also in the morning. I am going to call the knee doctor on Monday. I think I am going to have to have knee replacements.


At any rate I took an interesting journey the other morning. Checking into Google Earth I took a great trip and wandered around the island of Patmos. On Google Earth people have uploaded their photos which is helpful in getting a picture of what the island looks like and then I did a bit more research on the Cave of St. John.



Certainly not a perfect journey, missing are the larger stirrings of the heart, the smells and sounds...But none the less it was a pretty nice journey with an Akathist planned this evening to St. John the Theologian.



"Enlightening thy soul with an understanding of the true knowledge of God, thou didst follow thy good and gracious Master, learning the wisdom that flowed from His lips. On account of thy perfect innocence and virginal chastity, thou was beloved of Christ thy Lord. So hearken to us who cry to thee...." From the Akathist of St. John the Theologian


The true pilgrimage which is of the heart, is in prayer.





Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Of The Secular and The Spiritual


I am reading a very interesting and thought provoking book. A book by Charles Taylor, it is called A Secular Age. It is a real brick of a book, that is going to take me many, many evenings to read, the kind of book that is so rich in thought that I can't read very far without wanting to stop and mull over what he has said for maybe 4 or 5 days. I guess I am looking at about a year for this one.

A look at the secular age is shocking. It is a sly thing that has crept upon us over time. I am brought to the thought that the thinking of past generations are very different worlds. The thinking of the present age is colored extensively by it.


I read the first few pages and thought, I don't know if I want to read this. (?)
After mulling it over and even dreaming about it, I see that it has great power to show me ways that are adverse to Christ's thinking and I will add, good to be aware of.

By encapsulating and simplifying Charles Taylor's point, the book classifies people's approach to life, the secular, being a living for what the mind can create and generate, as opposed to the spiritual life, in which there is something or someone greater than ourselves, or perhaps a third option of a mixture of both.

His book called me to think about my own thought process and the path that I live by...I have to say thinking out things is fun, but I certainly do not, or could not live only on the surface. There is too much that I see and feel as an under-current in life. Emotion and motion are very alive in my life. I had a dream in which this motion was the subject. I would have to say that my life is about pilgrimage. (That is, an awareness and discovery of what is under the surface.)

In my former life, before I became an Orthodox Christian, I was aware of lots of different spiritual motion that seemed to be popping up in many different areas. It was chaotic and alive in many different directions. I certainly could see how a variety of people believed different things about different spiritual paths.

In a dream that I had after reading the first few pages of The Secular Age, I was on a spiritual pilgrimage. Towards the end of it I was passing over a beautiful forest. It was a breathtaking view, with rolling green meadows, high lakes and deep cloud shadows in patches over the landscape. At the summit of the hills was a beautiful forest with tall stately trees that edged the rolling hills. The trees were amazingly tall and beautifully barked with almost a smooth skin and at the fullness of the growing leafy crown they burst into the most beautiful green leaves that were full of life and motion. I asked the person next to me..."What is that forest? It almost looks like Lórien." The Brit said, "Yes, Lothlórien." (The forest from Tolkien's, Lord of the Rings.)
I was astonished.
(The above image of the aspen forest is a poor representation of the lush forest mentioned, but perhaps you will get the drift.)

The next morning in my reading of the psalms I came across this from Psalm 95.

12 The fields and all things that are in them shall be joyful. Then shall all the trees of the woods rejoice 13 Before the face of the Lord, because he cometh: because he cometh to judge the earth. He shall judge the world with justice, and the people with his truth.
All of the sudden there was a realized structure and beauty to the Christian Orthodox path, a Profound Loving, Beautiful and Solid Reality that was deeper than the ocean and the night sky, and huge and beyond description. There was no question in my mind as to the Path.

How lovely the words of Charles Taylor were for they helped me see the reality that I walk in as well as the realities that I have walked in.

What a great blessing...on with the exploration of his words.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Indeed Good!




Last week I had begun reading the Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare. (Ages 6th grade up) I finished it last night. It is a remarkable book and I could see it would make a wonderful spring board as a whole study on the ministry of Christ. I would like to read this book again and interweave the life of Christ through the eyes of John with it.
How often Jesus brings me back over and over to Love. And how often I do not Love like I should. The central message of the Bronze Bow is that.
What a totally lovely book!

Friday, May 22, 2009

How Powerful This Is!



John 8:51-59

51
Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.
52
Then the Jews said to Him, "Now we know that You have a demon! Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and You say, 'If anyone keeps My word he shall never taste death.'
53
Are You greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? And the prophets are dead. Who do You make Yourself out to be?
54
Jesus answered, "If I honor Myself, My honor is nothing. It is My Father who honors Me, of whom you say that He is your God.
55
Yet you have not known Him, but I know Him. And if I say, 'I do not know Him,' I shall be a liar like you; but I do know Him and keep His word.
56
Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.
57
Then the Jews said to Him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?"
58
Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM."
59
Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.


What an incredible conversation and what incredible action!

I am reading a children's book right now that I have had on my shelf waiting to be read for about 2 years and here I am down towards the bottom of my 'to read pile' where it has been waiting. It won the Newbery Award in 1962 in an age in America that was still a very Christian time. I don't think it would get the same award now, but none the less, Elizabeth George Speare, writer of the Bronze Bow has made the life of Christ real enough...and the above quotation from the bible has haunted me all week because it fits so much into the dialogue of the story as well as being so very powerful in its own right.
This has been a week of slowing down. Much of it was related to a leg that was so sore that I could hardly function with swelling behind my knee (Baker's Cyst) and along my ankle. I have been going to a foot doctor in Taos, thinking that with such problems I had better start at my foot and move up towards the knee, dreading a knee replacement. Turns out that the swelling in my ankle that I attributed to a falling arch (O! The traumas of advancing age) was an inflamed tendon. A shot of cortisone has cured not only my foot but also my knee. Thanks be to God. What a miracle that is!!! What a remarkable thing to be pain free.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mull This With A Cup Of Tea




This morning my Mother and I were headed for Denver to visit my sister. I have had kind of a growly stomach the last few days and not much seems appetizing. My sister called and said she didn't feel great either, so we decided to lay low for now and connect a little later. My Mother is still abed so she probably is enjoying not having to leap up and get in the car to go.

This is a good example of the day not being what you had in mind...and actually, though I miss not seeing my sister, there is a great sense of peace in the day that hadn't been there before. A day to be still. Perhaps...

I wrote to a friend who is having trouble getting a book going...the flow of that conversation that came out in the email seems like a good program if one is stuck by time strictures and not quite knowing direction. As I looked over this I thought I would like to do this too.


I am working on a story that is a young adult novel. I have been working on it for about 4-5 years now (only) and think I know its path, but it does seem to have a life of its own. I would really like it to have its own life and see where it goes.


I am thinking it would be a good way to get back into the story. The other things that I have been working on are on the shelf or almost so.

1.Picture book The Tumbled Stone has gone to the printer
2. CD project, Abbess Thaisia - editing almost finished

Here is the plan.

On your book. Count out the right number of pages with computer paper (32) (staple them together so they stay put.. then...write on your book page by page - what you already have... If it is a picture book then really all you need is one thing..text..long or short for every two pages as illustration might cover one of those pages or both. Use a printed book of your children's to get the layout. Doesn't matter which one you pick just use the first one that surfaces. ie page 1 title, page 2 credits, page 3 dedication or info...Page 4 now you begin the story.
Open your book to the part that you want to start on and pray and think about that page all day. Maybe keep a note pad in your purse/pocket/car (in this case a children's picture book) Then after you put the children (or?) to bed. Write down what you thought about that page that seemed good. Don't worry if it doesn't make sense. Just write it down and the next day pick up the next page and pray/think what should be on it. And keep going don't stop until you get to 32 pages. "Your story may change as you go along and not be the story that you originally intended. That is OK. God is helping you write it. See where He wants you to go. It is really a wonderful game that He will play with you. Who could be a better friend!! Doesn't even matter if it isn't great. You will have a great time doing it. Forget about making it important or REALLY meaningful. Just do it.

So I will leave you too with this thought. Where would you go with it?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Doubt


Fr. John, talked about doubt these last two Sundays.

The first sermon was about doubt. A) The doubt that confronts one ie: not being sure about something. (Taking more time and research to understand.) B) The doubt that is double-mindedness. He gave the example of Peter asking Jesus to tell him (Peter) to come to Him, as Jesus walked on the water. Peter started out and he was doing fine, only to 'doubt' and sink.

The second sermon reiterated his summation of doubt. I was glad that Fr. John did that, as I had forgotten that was his original premise in the previous sermon.

I find that usually after Pascha, I am somehow waiting for direction, what is next. It seems a new beginning. So often I have ideas that I am dwelling upon, paths to take, choices to make that seem after Pascha to be unanswered. I guess I feel that I should immediately know a firm direction after the Resurrection. I forget that His disciples didn't know what was next until the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.


I find the second state, double-minded doubt to be often part of making a decision. I start out with an idea that usually is a change in direction, and then the opposite comes into the picture and I can't decide between the two and am in a state of confusion. I often think that the new thought is the better idea of the two that war against each other. My Mother pointed out that perhaps the second thought, maintaining the status quo, is the better of the two.

Don't know if you have that confusion? Perhaps both are the true path, this and that?

At any rate I thought...God is faithful. He will convict me of what he wants of me.

Faith, confidence in God's plan is the erasing of doubt. Also what an interesting thought to... hyper me...this is a time to sit and be still.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Bright Week

Often it seems that Bright Week, the week following Pascha is a struggle for me. I did some writing about it. Fr. John addressed that issue on Sunday, so it seems apparent that others also have the same problem that I experience. He spoke about Christ before the Ascension exhorting His disciples to tell others what they had witnessed. Act on your faith in Jesus' Resurrection.

I thought also as he was speaking of the mindfulness of putting Pentecost in the forefront during Bright Week.

In prayer earlier in the week, some other thoughts came to mind.

At Pascha the Eucharist must be especially powerful with a strong renewing characteristic to it.

Powerfully, Christ renews us yearly so that we grow in Him continually with growth spurts at the time of Pascha. The fasting and ascetic disciplines that are part of the Lenten season add to our ability to prepare ourselves for new growth. (Emptying ourselves of a focus on the good things of life so that we are focused on Christ in it.)

In an Akathist to the Resurrection which I read this morning, in Kontakion 1, there is this line: "I thy servant renewed and recreated by Thee..."
Recreated...now that is an interesting thought. How about using Bright week to be watchful of being recreated. One wouldn't probably see that in a week, but certainly that is a fruitful thought and the beginings of those stirrings are there.
The idea of the thought that we are saved once and for all, doesn't reflect the gift that we continue to be saved again and again, recreated again and again...saved from our own falls and sinful choices, so that we can grow continually more and more into the likeness of Christ. (Theosis)

An interesting exercise would be to write down during the week...or weekly until Pentecost ways we see that we are being recreated each week.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Tumbled Stone


I have just gotten my new children's book, The Tumbled Stone, to the press that will print it in China, for my publisher Protection of the Holy Virgin's publishing arm...New Varatec Publishers. The abbess, does not currently have a web presence but can be reached through her address...P. O. Box 416, Lake George, Colorado, 80827, or phone 719-748-3999. She travels to conferences with her books and bookstore and also does women's retreats.


Because the monastery is small with not a lot of people, I did the managing of the production of the book as well as the writing and illustration of it. Much of that part of it I could do, but came to a stumbling block with the graphics preparation of the images. Wonderfully, my daughter Catherine stepped in and did that portion of the job for us in InDesign. She did a beautiful creative job on the cover and I was very impressed with her ability!! During daylight and work week hours she is a administrator in a University Medical School Library.
From the back of the book:


"A pilgrim finds a smooth stone on the island of St. Herman of Alaska. In it God speaks to him of the Saints of North American."


I think it is a very pretty book. Lots of nice color. Sadly my artistic heart was broken that the purple end sheets which I was hoping to have would have added $.30 to the cost of each book. Ouch!


Had to decide that the book was saying an important message not the end sheets.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Christ is Risen

A Blessed Pascha!
As the fire illuminates the darkness of the Church in the late hours of the eve of Pascha, may Christ light your heart also! What a beautiful celebration at Holy Trinity Church.

I always think of that fire and the mystical fire in Jerusalem.

There was a wonderful article a few years ago in Again magazine by Fr. George Hill (Vol.28, No.2, 2006) who made the trip to the Holy Sepulcher a Pascha for that purpose. He went through much struggle to achieve entry to the church and was rewarded by holding in his had a candle with the mystical fire of God; a fire that does not burn but heals.

"Cries of 'Axios' went up as the patriarch made his way around the tomb, ...I waited with my eyes glued on the Holy Tomb itself, when all of a sudden I heard a woman scream from the balcony. I looked up and saw blue-colored flashes of light flying around in all directions and an orange burst of flame arising from the center of the tomb. I saw the torches the patriarch bore as he exited the tomb, and in a matter of seconds I had the flame on my candle!

"The flame was hot. It was fire, but it did not burn. I moved my hands in it until they were black with soot. I held my hand directly above the flame, close enough to roast a marshmallow or blacken a hot dog, and there was nothing but deep warmth. As I put my hand deeper into the flame , it got hotter until the flames were leaping through my fingers. I pulled my hand out because it got uncomfortably hot, but there was no burn whatsoever!"





Fr. George sums up his article with these words...

"We don't have to go to Jerusalem, every Pascha is a wonderful blessing from the Lord, but becoming one with Him though His Body and Blood is infinitely more profound. It brings us remission of sins and life everlasting, which is truly the miracle of miracles."

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death and upon those in the tomb bestowing life!

Christ is Risen!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Great and Holy Friday




Crucifixion from

St. Catherine's Monastery

in the Sinai

Great and Holy Friday has dawned. I awoke thinking of the death of Love. Imagine that, what a heartbreaking,frightening, horrifying thing that would be! Thanks be to God we know that the outcome of Good Friday as a glorious Pascha!
I am counting on going to the early service, but here we see 3-4 inches of snow with the coming light of morning. I live an hour and a half away from church with winding roads in between. Once I almost skidded off of the road on a snowy morning with a deep canyon to one side and a deep depression on the other, not realizing my tires were not as good as I thought they were. I turned around that day and came home again. I will try it this morning. We live off of the beaten track. I will at least go out and check and see what the highway is like. You never know.

At any rate...here is a wonderful reading...not complete but a wonderful section of it, from John 14:28-15:13 (The whole reading is John 13:31-18:1 (Matins, 1st Passion Gospel)

28 You have heard Me say to you, 'I am going away and coming back to you.' If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said, 'I am going to the Father,' for My Father is greater than I.
29 And now I have told you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe.
30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me.
31 But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do. Arise, let us go from here.
1 I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.
2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.
4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
5 I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.
7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.
8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
9 As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.
10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love.
11 These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.
12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Breakfast



This is very good to my mind. I can't say that I really understand it, to be able to totally practice what he (Metropolitan Jonah) is talking about, but I would deeply like to.
I have read in the bible that God is I AM but never thought of I AM as me, always Other. He is saying here that I AM is me as well as God, our oneness, in the depth of each of our souls. That is something to deeply ponder today.

(click on image to enlarge)
The Photo is from STREAMS OF INSPIRATION,
Monastery of St. John of San Francisco; Volume 2, Issue 2
written by (then) Abbot Jonah

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Dream

I had an interesting dream this morning.

I was working with a group of people. If I became slowed on part of an operation or in knowledge, another person would step in with the information that would enable what ever it was that I (and thus we) was/were doing to move forward. There were some very high tech projects going on in the dream and some of us were really at a loss to provide the answer. However there was no hesitation in the process...A phone would ring wherever we were, sometimes in an alley, sometimes in a building, once at a museum with ancient bones, and the answer would be provided to one of us who would then step in and accomplish the thing that needed to happen for the job to be completed, so that we could move on to the next thing.

Upon waking I thought- what an amazing concept! That we all may be one. Hmmm

Doesn't that require that the individual be humble?
Doesn't that require community in a remarkable way???
Isn't it interesting that the answer was always provided and the the One who knew could find us no matter where we were. There was complete trust in that One, with no suspicions as to motive or ability.

What a blessing. That we all may be One!

All we have to do is allow the other man in to provide the answer. And perhaps it is we who are the provider in an instance and so we step in with the key. (ie: someone requesting something of us. Money? Goods? Energy? Time?)

And taking this thought into understanding...does it bring joy to my heart to do it, knowing that I am doing it for the One, rather than to only please the individual. Is it in agreement with the One?

May we all be One... in Jesus Christ our Lord and God!