Monday, December 20, 2010

The Next and Maybe Last Winner

The winner of the drawing of the next and I think last book is H. West. You have won a copy of The Tumbled Stone. Please let me know where to send it! Congratulations!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Last Chance

The drawing for the last free book, The Tumbled Stone, will be on Sunday the 19th. I have quite a few names in the box. Which one will be the lucky winner?
If you haven't given me your name yet please send me a post and let me know what name to put in the box of potential winners.
Going, going.....

Monday, December 6, 2010

And the winner is....

Congratulations to Ana Adams! A young naturalist who picked The Tumbled Stone.
One more drawing to go on December 19th and announced on the 20th. A great surprise for someone for Christmas. If you haven't already entered the drawing please send your name and you will be added to the box for a potential win.

Hurray for Ana...On its way to you now by Media Mail!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Well Here We Go!

This last week our schedule was in the newspaper. Oh no I thought. We aren't open yet but as I began to think..."This means we are going to be open!" And sure enough. We will be opening on Monday. There is a little anxiety re: wonder how long it will take to make all of those beverages. But then Thanks be to God. God's will be done after all whose coffee house and chapel is this!
So we are in gear.
The drawing will be held as scheduled on December 5th and announced on the 6th. But here is the deal. If you don't win this time you will have yet one more chance to do so as all of the names will stay in the pot except the one drawn. We would like to include the Taos Community as part of the drawing so yet another drawing will be held on the 19th and announced on the 20th.
Talk about really giving those books away! Hurray for the winners and hurray for those who have submitted their names to our game of chance.
We hope if you are in the area you will come and see us.
This is a great location.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

An Unexpected Turn

Good for God!!!
The article announcing the opening of Holy Annunciation and Heavenly Ladder Books didn't make it into the paper today.

The insurance lady, Marilyn just called and the insurance is stalled and it will be after the first of the week before she can get it moving.

So isn't that interesting. God knows these things.

I did talk to the editor, Joan today and things sound promising to have it in the paper with photos (which I didn't have this week), but sounds as if we will have to wait until we have the insurance which will be next week we hope.
So as a result the drawing for the book will be December 5th and announced on the 6th, rather than this Sunday. I would like to have the drawing in conjunction with the Chapel/Book Store opening.
So keep those names coming and we will have a magnificent drawing!!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Winner of The Tumbled Stone!!!

Jennifer Park your name was drawn last night at 9:20 PM, Mountain Standard Time.


For all those who would like to enter the next drawing please send me your names and that drawing will be held on Sunday the 21st of November.
Your choice, The Tumbled Stone or Song of the Talanton (with accompanying cd)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

More on Book Give Away

Hope you all weren't bashful about copying and pasting the name of the other authors on Google, because embarrassed to say, the web pages etc. of some didn't show up on the page. Please forgive to the authors and to those of you who felt frustrated by that.
There is still time to enter my give-away. I plan to do the drawing this evening. In fact I even have a impartial draw-er to do the job.
I plan to keep the names of people that have submitted for the next drawing. Winner is out unless you re-submit. Let people that you know submit their names for the next drawing which will be done on the evening of the 21st. Our new bookstore will open the 22nd.
I am game to let the winner have a choice of either book. The new one, The Tumbled Stone, New Varatec Press, Protection of the Holy Virgin Orthodox Monastery, Lake George, CO, 719-748-3999 (if you are interested in ordering copies) or Song of the Talanton, Conciliar Press, I won't try to link it as the link tends to disappear.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

5 Children's Book Authors Give away Books!! Sign up for the One that You Want!!

Check out the Blogs or Web-Pages of the following authors for a great start at Christmas gift giving, for yourself or for someone that you know. Free books are being given away by these authors ~ sign up for a chance to win now!!!! The First Drawing will be on November 14 and the winner announced on the 15th.

All the names will be dumped after that drawing. Then there will be another drawing on November the 21st for the book, Song of the Talanton (Includes CD) (Conciliar Press) You will need to send your name after the 15th to be included in that drawing. That drawing will coincide with the opening of Heavenly Ladder Books, Arts, Coffee and Tea .

Our first day in operation with a service in the Chapel will begin on Monday, November 22, also my brother's birthday and the beginning of the week of Thanksgiving. How nice is that!

To enter one of my drawings please email me your name though the comments section under this entry and I will put your name in the hopper. The name of the winner of my drawings will be entered on this blog.

Author Chrissi Hart has a Doctorate in Psychology from the University of Leicester, UK. As a Chartered Clinical Psychologist in England, she helped troubled children for twenty years. Born in Cyprus, Chrissi now writes stories for children from her cultural heritage that are inspiring and spiritually satisfying. She lives in York, Pennsylvania, with her husband Barry and children, Adam and Sophia. They attend St. John Chrysostom Antiochian Orthodox Church, where Chrissi is a choir member and tends the church gardens. She has a podcast slot on Ancient Faith Radio with the reading of Children’s Books. Chrissi will be giving away a copy of The Hermit, the Icon and the Emperor.(Conciliar Press) On her podcast she reads the various books: See this page for her book give away:

Heather Zydek is a novelist and English teacher who lives in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin with her husband and three daughters. She served as editor of the books The Revolution: A field manual for changing your world and The Relevant Nation: 50 Activists, Artists and Innovators who are changing their world with faith (Relevant Books, 2006). Learn more about her work at Heather will be giving away her book, Basil’s Search for Miracles,(Conciliar Press) on her website.

Jane G. Meyer was a contributing editor and columnist for a journal for Orthodox Christian women, The Handmaiden , and is an active author who has published two books through SVS Press, and another, The Life of Saint Brigid, through Conciliar Press. This week she is giving away a copy of
The Woman and the Wheat on her blog. Find her at or

Katherine Bolger Hyde has been associated with Conciliar Press in some capacity for the last sixteen years, and is currently serves on a freelance basis as their acquisitions editor. She is also an author and will be giving away a copy of her book, Lucia, Saint of Light (Conciliar Press) Blog:
Lucia on Conciliar site:
Jane’s review of Lucia on AFR: http://

Claire Brandenburg has working in a variety of different art forms. She has exhibited her work in galleries and museums and has received numerous awards. In the last 10 years she has used both picture and word in the writing and illustration of Orthodox children’s books. She is currently starting a bookstore, Heavenly Ladder and reader’s Chapel, Holy Annunciation in Taos, N.M of which she is acting as manager through Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in Santa Fe, NM
See , Claire Brandenburg (FaceBook) , . She will be giving away a copy of the Tumbled Stone, (New Varatec Publishing, a small press through the Protection of the Mother of God Orthodox Monastery in Lake George, Colorado) on her blogspot and on facebook.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Moving to a New Website

I am picking up my marbles and moving to a new website representing Heavenly Ladder-Books, Arts,Coffee, Tea, Chocolate and Holy Annunciation Antiochian Orthodox Reader's Chapel. This website will keep you abreast of the happenings that will be a new part of my life. We are just beginning to work on the website and it will grow and expand as we are doing the same. Still not open and I am projecting the opening to hopefully be October the 25...THIS YEAR! Yeah!
At any rate this will be the new address:

See you there!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Lull

A new CD from Holy Trinity CDs will be offered in our
book store. It is called A Spiritual Testament from
St. Sergius of Kasimov, one of the New Confessors of
Russia. Excellent!

We are moving along with our process. We are waiting on many small details that need to happen which are the flash for a whole process to happen and our project to move forward. We are currently awaiting an acknowledgment from the IRS on Holy Trinity's 501 c3 status so that we can set up a new business in NM and open a bank account, merchant status for a credit card machine, a business application to the Town of Taos.
Who would think!
I see this waiting however as a very welcome break. Time to consider and to think. I went down to our business site that we will be renting, measured the furnishings and marked them with small pieces of paper to see how everything will fit, so now have a good idea of how we will put it together visually. How the space will work. Do we have enough furniture, where will we serve the food etc.
We would need to get a food license from the Environmental Office through the State to cook food; so decided on Food Service instead. This means everything has to come directly from the package and customers will need to serve themselves. Coffee can be made, tea etc. and put in air pots. My thought is it will be better to have the time with customers than to be a cook.
I somehow couldn't wrap my mind around how this would work but seem to now have a better concept thanks to good advise. There are still areas that I am not sure about. But we did decide that we would make 3-4 kinds of beverages for customer to try, making a different one each day - those being, coffee (1-2 flavors), tea, (alternating between herbal (ti sane) and regular tea) and sipping chocolate. We will start with one coffee flavor until we see what the flow of traffic is. We will be selling all of the above in different flavors in packaged form for the customer to take home along with interesting food items as well, all packaged.

We have been working on icons of various sizes, framed churches, small notepads, magnets, travel icons and cards to compliment our selection of great Orthodox Books.
It will be wonderful to get it all in place.
The space is very small but hopefully wonderful!
Drop in if you are in Taos.
We can't say yet when the opening will be. Mostly cooling our heels at the moment.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

What's Happening?

Yesterday I got many pieces of furnishings for the bookstore painted. One more shelf to go.
Things are beginning to take shape and that is very encouraging. I see order in the chaos, thanks be to God, without whose help I would have long ago run screaming from my studio.
Here is an interview on the Antiochian website that will tell you things that I haven't thought to tell you.

Monday, July 5, 2010

O Virgin Pure or Rejoice O Unwedded Bride

I am up to my ears in travel. Mind scattered, I don't think of much to say but here to fill your heart is a beautiful Arabic Hymn, O Virgin Pure.
Sung by Archimandrite Pandeleimon (Farah), Igumen of the monastery of Hamatoura in Lebanon. Included with this is a slide show of the Cave Monastery of Hamatoura.

Very Beautiful!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Getting in Gear

Things are beginning to move forward with our process of getting a Chapel and Bookstore started here. We met with the town and contractor. The contractor had to be specially qualified to do the ADA improvements that we needed to do. Fortunately the building inspector said that we didn't have to enlarge the doorways because the building is an older building. We do have to put up exit lights over the doorways with a fire extinguisher by each and add thresholds that are ADA approved creating a bit of a ramp into each of the two rooms and add a wheelchair accessible asphalt pad for parking with sign and sidewalk to the doorway.
The Chapel is a very nice space for us, about 7.5 feet wide and 22 feet long. Perfect for an iconostasis in the front with standing room for about 15 people and benches that we will put around the back for people that need to sit.
The Bookstore is about 17 feet by 22 feet, with a little back kitchen space. It would be ideal if we had a sink in that little room but good enough for now. The bathroom which is off of this small room is large which is great for the ADA requirements, about 8 feet square.
I have been amassing books, room decor and things to sell which are being stored in my studio(thanks to some wonderful donations). The studio is getting to be packed but I still have working space so that is great.
We will have a curtain across the iconostasis for a Royal Door. I have been working on printing a Annunciation image on linen on my computer, which can be sewn to the curtain. I will take it to church on Sunday and see what Father John thinks of it and if it will work in that respect. It looks good to me but he is the final determiner. I am hoping that my God son can build the iconostasis and am in process of working with him on it. A lot to do still but my guess is that we won't be open until mid to late August.
I am pleased actually with the delay, even though the hearing date with the Town has been pushed back a few times from our original start up time, as it has given me more time to gradually work on the details, as their are a variety of things to work on.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Living Water

I have been wandering around various shops/stores trying to obtain goods for our approaching bookstore/chapel*. These stores, sometimes filled with things up even to the ceiling can be immensely soul oppressing. I happened to pass a little fountain busily burbling away on a dark hidden shelf. *Holy Annunciation Chapel and Bookstore soon to be in Taos, NM., August.

"Well just look at that! Life in the darkness."

It was amazing how that moving water was so alive in a huge collection of dead and lifeless objects. It brought to mind the story of St. Photina. Photina is drawing water at a well and Jesus approaches her and asks her for a drink and ends by offering her living water. (For the story go to John 4:9-26)

Our lives are very much like that sometimes. We realize that we are in a funk, a dead place where seemingly there is no life. It is important to be aware of our process so that we don't get caught in something that oppresses the life of the soul. That seems to happen to me when I get tunnel visioned with something so that all I can see is the project in front of me. If I stop for a moment and do something that is frivolous it helps a lot. Even better, there are things that I need to do to make something happen, so I have to keep on keeping on. If Jesus offers Living Water then it will be present in even that which oppresses. The focus is Christ, not the tedium at hand.

There is a wonderful old hymn of fundamentalist root that was about the funniest thing I had ever heard as a teenager. It was called "Telephone to Glory". I remember some of the words.

It went like this:

"Telephone to Glory over Joy Divine, you can feel the current moving down the line. Made by God the Father for His very own. You can talk to Jesus on the Royal Telephone." (Set to Country Western music)

Seems to me this song has stuck with me all of these years because it is where Living Water is. Our connection to God...Our taking the time to give Jesus a drink and then in return we get Living Water.

That 'giving Jesus a drink' can come in lots of forms: Helping someone else, playing and observing the life that comes from (for instance) folding paper, cutting something out and gluing it on something else, taking some time to pull some weeds focusing on only that spot and not the mass of weeds to the left of it, etc. Focus is the key word here...focusing and watching what comes of some simple act, watching the thread play itself out and following the thread. That thread is tied to a bucket with Living Water. Be mindful of the Water in the Process.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Byzantine Chant

The Bookstore/Chapel is still in progress. There are so many things that combine to be part of it. I have been primarily working with the Town to get things in motion. We are stalled temporarily on changing a doorway, putting in exit lights and pricing a parking pad for wheelchair accessible use. This is an old building that we have our eyes on and are really not in any position financially to pay for big updates. We have gone to the owner to see if he will be willing to make those changes. We certainly pray so as it seems a wonderful space for this to happen. Keep us in your prayers!

Along with the idea of the chapel I have been looking at a very interesting website, Ancient Faith Radio, which is full of pod casts that are from great speakers, even readings of childrens books. They have workshops in Byzantine Chant which is just what I need to learn for the readers services. I can do straight chanting...but it will be great to build my knowledge and see what I can do with this.
If you are interested go here:
Pictured above is St. Romanos the Saint par excellence of chanters and song writers of the Orthodox Church. St. Romanos pray for our memory and learning ability!
You can link backwards from here and see what else is offered. I downloaded the different tones so I can practice in the car as I travel. What a great thing!

Thursday, April 22, 2010


I was cleaning out some drawers and came across a paper band that had been pulled off some Orthodox Word publications from St. Herman of Alaska Monastery Press. It incorporated several pieces of used papers. They were taped together to create a band that bundled a number of booklets. I had been using it as a bookmark at some time in the past, so I don't know how long it had been sitting there. It has a good word for today.

One page of the three taped pieces is from a random Orthodox Word;page 357:

"...ture, outstanding for a village church, compelled us to admire it for a long time. Then all of a sudden, before our eyes, right beneath our feet, a whole picture opened up--to the left there was a ravine, leading to a valley, We needed to bear right, so as to continue to the opposite edge of this ravine which, by a wide prominence, proceeded upwards, overlaid with bright emerald green in the gentle illumination of the setting sun, and which drew us to itself. We did not succeed in walking a hundred steps when an even more picturesque scene brought us to even greater astonishment. Right beneath our feet, from north to south, a ravine appeared, overgrown here and there with bushes, but for the most part covered with grass. From above, the eastern edges of this ravine were still all illumined by the parting rays of the setting sun, while below the evening shadows had already fallen. Goat paths led all the way to the bottom of this ravine. Luckily for me, I soon saw a small gully, probably left after a spring waterfall. I safely descended along it to the bottom of the ravine. Here at our feet there flowed pure, clear water, but the channel was quite narrow and we crossed it without any difficulty. At once there began a steep upgrade and we began to ascend by a narrow, winding trail. We had to stop two or three times to rest while we were climbing. But what is this water in fenced-off reservoirs? How could It be here on such a steep slope?!

We looked, and before us ran one thin trickling stream, then another, and over there a third, forming a tiny waterfall. This was excellent spring water, pure as crystal, ever so tasty, without any impurities or odor. We climbed upwards and glanced back. The sun departed beyond the horizon, the scarlet of the clouds died down and the evening twilight softly stole upon the earth. O Lord, O Lord--I thought--if only this earthly beauty would enchain my heart forever to the contemplation of eternal, unfading beauty! Scenes from sacred history swept over..."

Beautiful, that a writer of long ago can take one on such a contemporary journey. What a beautiful scrap to find.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Changes in the Air

Christ is Risen!!!

Starting out an Orthodox bookstore (used and new) here, with a Chapel. We will be serving coffee, tea and goodies, great books and heart-full worship during the week. We will be having an occasional speaker in Fr. John on some Fridays followed by a Saturday morning Liturgy. Wow imagine that!! Maybe with a start up around June.

Hoping to gather some people that might be interested in Orthodoxy. We are working on a year's lease and hope it will be very successful! Right now we are jumping the hoops with the Town and Sign group then when we have the idea approved by the Town we will sign a lease. Lots of forms to fill out and hearings ahead of us to get a Special Use permit to do this.

I was thinking that we will be slow moving at first...had an encouraging dream last night. Dreamed there were all sorts of people coming in and out. May God bless the plan and the fulfillment there-of!!!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Christ is Risen!!!
A Blessed Bright Week to you!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A time of sacrifice - Great Lent

We are midway through Holy Week today...Wednesday! Imagine that!
I am going to Church tonight to a Holy Unction service and staying the night in Santa Fe.

I always love traveling New Mexico roads this time of year as there are lots of walkers on the road. You might wonder what a walker is. In the Roman Church many of the faithful walk to a church,usually El Santuario de Chimayo in this part of the world. El Santuario (The Shrine) was built between l8l4 and l8l6.

As I went down to church on Tuesday morning, there was a lone walker carrying a wooden cross. It was probably about 24" x 12", beautifully and carefully carved in a spiral design. I left early in the morning and by early afternoon as I was coming back I passed him again looking hot and tired. He had traveled about 20 miles. May God richly bless his sweet heart. He filled my heart passing him both times.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Jesus Prayer

I probably have used this title before and I am sure that I will use it again.

I was listening this morning to Metropolitan (used to be Abbot) Jonah's talk, From Psychology to Spirituality, (available through Holy Trinity CD's). I love having the series with me in the car as I drive around and do my errands. All I need is a little snippet of what he is saying to pray around and think about all day.

This morning's little piece had to do with thoughts...thoughts that you act on or that fill your head. He commented a few days ago during another errand, how our thoughts are 90% of who we are, an important point. Also on how thoughts run rampant. Mine were running rampant this morning.

As I left this morning to pick up a few necessities, I had to turn around midway up the road because I didn't think I had locked the back door. Sure enough I hadn't. Off again...this time I made it all the way to Walmart and realized I didn't have my purse. Hmmm. Back down the road, unlock the back door get the purse, go back to Walmart. I was exhausted already and hadn't even started. Does that tell you something about thoughts that are out of control?

Metropolitan Jonah meanwhile was saying something on the CD that was really important to my day. I am paraphrasing:'The thing to do is take charge of your thoughts and not to let them run you. Even the Buddhists feel that enlightenment is reached when the thoughts are conquered. The thing that they are missing is Christ, the Personal and the Other that comes into your being changes you, embrases you and temporaily pulls you into the Kingdom. To get there you have to work on get rid of the thoughts.'

He talks further about how if you can do this the world becomes illumined and one can see God in His creation, in those around one no matter who they are, no matter what their beliefs are.

I know because this is about the third time I have listened to this CD that the Jesus Prayer plays a very important part in taking your space back from the thoughts.

It seems to me that the Jesus prayer takes some time to get into, to break in so to speak, sort of like a pair of really good shoes. It becomes comfortable and helps you mightily down the path of life.

My goal this morning is to practice the prayer.

And by the way this CD package is highly recommended!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Soul Saturday

On the OCA (Orthodox Church of America) website, I always enjoy the Feasts and Saints section which shows the icons of the day of Saints who are being honored, as well as telling their stories. I found in today's search that it is Soul Saturday. There is a custom, in honor of the soul of one who has reposed, that a donation is given, as well as prayer, as a remembrance to God.

In the printout it says:

"The angel who spoke to Cornelius testifies to the efficacy of almsgiving, 'Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God." (Acts 10:4)

That is an interesting thought to me-of the spirit of giving ascending to God as a prayer, as alms. Here are a spiritual treasure and a material object side by side.

Somehow this 'picture' is very intriguing to me.

I have been thinking a lot lately about 'Mystery'. That is, that which is hidden and suddenly revealed. How are mystery and miracle alike?

An illustration of mystery:

I have had a lot of conversations with different people in the last few days about wild animals that have suddenly come into view, always surprising the viewer.

Depending on where you live that sometimes happens often, still it always seems a surprise when suddenly they are there. One realizes that they are around you, perhaps even seeing footprints showing that they are there, but not seeing the actual creature until whoa...there it is.

Mystery has that element of surprise. All of the sudden a 'wow' or
'look!' sort of thing.

Going back to the original theme, (giving alms in memory of someone, as a memorial to someone), I tend to think of that kind of gift primarily as a comfort to the family of the reposed, when in fact there is a MUCH bigger motion involved. It is an act that contains amazing mystery, an act unexpected in its outcome. Giving from your treasure (that which is carefully used, guarded even) in memory of a person for whom you have a regard.

It says that giving -period- has that power, but giving of what you guard...what you find most precious, has an even greater power.

That is a surprising mystery!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The First and Second Finding of the Head of St. John the Forerunner

Some days I get on the wrong track. I try to keep a daily remembrance of the Saints commemorations for each day. Sometimes my brain just does not take on what day it is, and I begin celebrating a saint's day early or a day late or think that I have missed a favorite saint's feast day. Weird the way my head can't take in things sometimes. I have to admit that I had a lot of ideas circling yesterday.

At any rate yesterday was the commemoration of the First and Second Finding of the Head of St. John the Forerunner. I thought I had missed it the day before and here it was yesterday. It seemed like the icon of St. John was giving me a curious look...(which it seems to me sometimes icons do). It was kind of a sad look, like "what is going on?!".

I found a reproduction of an icon a few years ago that is very powerful and one that has moved me greatly many times. This is an intriguing history as well. Here is the story:

After the Beheading of The Holy Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John (August 29), his body was buried by disciples in the Samarian city of Sebaste, and his venerable head was hidden by Herodias in an unclean place. St. Joanna (June 27), the wife of King Herod's steward Chuza (Luke 8:3), secretly took the holy head and placed it into a vessel and buried it on the Mount of Olives on one of Herod's properties.

After many years, this property passed into the possession of a government official who became a monk with the name of Innocent. He built a church and a cell there. When they started to dig the foundation, the vessel with the venerable head of John the Baptist was uncovered. Innocent recognized its great holiness from the signs of grace emanating from it. Thus occurred the First Finding of the Head. Innocent preserved it with great piety, but fearful that the holy relic might be abused by unbelievers, before his own death he again hid it in that same place, where it was found. Upon his death the church fell into ruin and was destroyed.

During the days of St. Constantine the Great (May 21) , when Christianity began to flourish, the holy Forerunner appeared twice to two monks journeying to Jerusalem on pilgrimage to the holy places, and he revealed the location of his venerable head.

The monks uncovered the holy relic and, placing it into a sack of camel-hair, they proceeded homewards. Along the way they encountered and unnamed potter and give him the precious burden to carry. Not knowing what he was carrying, the potter continued on his way. But the holy Forerunner appeared to him and ordered him to flee from the careless and lazy monks, with what he held in his hands. The potter concealed himself from the monks and at home he preserved the venerable head with reverence. Before his death he place it in a water jug and gave it to his sister.

From that time the venerable head was successively preserved by devout Christians, until

the priest Eustathius (infected with the Arian heresy) came into possession of it. He beguiled a multitude of the infirm who had been healed by the holy head, ascribing their cures to the fact that it was in the possession of an arian. When his blasphemy was uncovered, he was compelled to flee. After he buried the holy relic in a cave, near Emesa, the heretic intended to return later and use it for disseminating falsehood. God, however, did not permit this. Pious monks settled in the cave, and then a monastery arose at this place in the year 452. St. John the Baptist appeared to Archimandrite Marcellus of this monastery and indicated where his head was hidden. This became celebrated as the Second Finding. The holy relic was transferred to Emesa, and later to Constantinople. (From the OCA site, Feasts and Saints)

And here is the reproduction of the icon that I find so moving. Even though a day late...may St. John bless us all!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Children's Book Illustration and writing

I have created a facebook page that I plan to use as a venue for Children's Book illustration and writing. I have had several requests for information on this so if you are interested...go here.
Claire Brandenburg, Facebook...

You can see my books on my web page and places to purchase them on the links page.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Fast

I have been doing some reading lately that has, as so often happens a similar message but authors that are not related and from different times and places.
The message of both articles/books being that Christ came to earth and left as a legacy what... ? Not the Bible, but the Church.

The Church began at the death of Christ with passage of the teachings that Christ left to the disciples and of course with the teachings of Paul. It continued along with the growth of that teaching through martyrdoms, monasticism and word of mouth and the Bible, that record of the memory of God's relationship with His people, the Jews, and a recording of the memory of relationships with Christ the Messiah.

At the great schism it broke in two... 1054....with the one path leading on as it always had been and the other path renamed and re-theologized to become the Roman church. After that there were other breakings and re-theologizings until the "Christian Religion" came diluted into many teachings into this Century.

If one retraces that One Church and the practices that make up the ancient Church, one finds the Orthodox Christian Church; and it is found now in its motion in the prelude of Christ's continuing departure in Great and all Holy Lent.

The Fast.

What does the Fast do? It leads us away from the earthly physical beauty of the world into a closet, so to speak. A closet that should hang empty of things. It seems to me that I can fill that closet up again with the trappings of the world or I can not only leave it empty, but expand it in space and time and silence in willingness to have it be Jesus Christ's. The expansion happens through Confession and Sacrifice, and a putting away of the garments of the ego.

What are those garments? How are we to be re-created? Certainly not totally through our own mechanizations, but through this mystical season within the Church. Our actions can not really change who and what we are, but Jesus Christ can.

I underline mystical...something that happens in time and space through our efforts, in a certain direction, but not by our effort alone, but by an amazing miracle that takes place through Grace and our willingness to abandon our current self for one that God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit re-create in us. Imagine....who did God create you to be before this world and your ego got hold of you? I cannot even conceive of that. But God can and does. The mystery awaits in the emptied closet.

The Fast is at hand.

The Church and its Body, the Saints will pray for us on our journey forward.

The Cross is at hand.

Friday, February 5, 2010

An interesting comment on Fasting

I think you can guess the question. But maybe I should clarify just in case; this pertains to the Orthodox Christian practice of eating shellfish during a fast. I thought it fit right in with my thought process at the moment and with the upcoming Lenten Season as well. This was written in 2007 by "Herman".
I think that this is a great answer.

Glory to Jesus Christ! Traditionally, in earlier days, shellfish was not the delicacy it is considered today. Shellfish were considered trash, something to eat if nothing else was available. Also, there is no discernible blood. Blood is believed to be what stirs the passions. Based on this, shellfish was not prohibited. But it doesn't take much to figure out that a fancy expensive lobster dinner, while "legal" in a literal sense, violates the "spirit" of the Holy Fast. Meals should be small and simple. Money that would have been spent on meat is given in alms for the poor. "Trash" shellfish in coastal societies would be relatively cheap and often eaten by the poor, but not in our society so much today unless you live on the coast and go clamming or crabbing for yourself!Fasting is spiritual exercise. Like any kind of exercise, we must find out what we are capable of. There is as much or more danger in overdoing as there is in under doing. In determining an appropriate fasting regime for yourself, it is always a good idea to check with your priest, just like when we ask a coach at the gym for advice before we start pressing 400 lb. free weights. Not enough effort and we do not see the results we desire and become discouraged. Too much effort and we "burn out" or perhaps even hurt ourselves. The key is to not get too focused on the "rules" and to do what you can, always striving to do a little better next time. Push yourself, but recognize your limits.Wishing you a blessed and spiritually profitable Lenten Spring and a blessed and joyous Holy Pascha!Your servant,Herman

In Response

I realize that my thought of the Feast means that I give permission for my body, (the obsessive creature that it is), to have most every thing to eat that it wants. This defeats the path of the Fast.

The Fast focuses on limiting the body so as to benefit the soul. The development of the soul is the purpose of life. Making it conscious of God through Jesus Christ and ultimately by God's Grace and by my own direction, repentance, etc., and becoming One with God. This is a never ending and challenging process. One that only the saints have achieved;but being humanly possible through their example, a path that might be obtainable. The supreme desire being closeness and relationship with Jesus Christ and my desire for the Kingdom.

One does that by limiting the body's desires. The body is like a spoiled and demanding child. It is up to me to guide it and allow it the things it has, rather than letting it run out of control.
So in the Fast one guides it, directs it and allows it things under the rule of the Church. It is easier for me because I can say, these are the options. Without having that "rule", it is most difficult.

So I need to think about a rule for Feasting. I do better with guidelines. What is a good way for my body to behave that will help my soul grow? I think of the 'Wedding in Cana', where the Mother of God asked Jesus to make water into wine as the wine had run out. He made better wine for the guests that the host had provided. So He wants the Feast to be the best. Wine alone doesn't make a Feast. His Presence does.

In the story of the 'Prodigal Son', the father prepares the fatted calf for his wayward son. The best! But there would have been no Feast for that son if he had not returned and begged his father to forgive him and be joined with and in the company of his father.

Hmmm...this calls to mind the 'golden calf' that was erected by the Jews on their way to the promised land.

The Feast has the true focus of the Presence of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
This requires yet more prayer and thought.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

February 3, 2010???

Wait a minute! I thought it was January at least, not already the Leavetaking of the Presentation at the Temple. But reality is setting in now that I think about it. Lent is on the way and Pascha is down the road.

I enjoy Lent a lot. In fact often I think that it would be good to eat fasting food all of the time, a leaner more watchful way to live. The hard thing is the feasting. I always get out of control. There ought to be a way to think about feasting that would be just as watchful as fasting.

Perhaps limiting amounts of feasting foods would be a way to do that. Perhaps being more thankful for such amazing abundance and variety would also be part of that plan rather than easily getting used to it. As a random thought I think rich foods kind of kill or numb ones taste buds. Fat sparkles on the tongue and it wants just more in quantity. Surely the feasting has to do with celebration, joy in the goodness of good times, people that one loves and of course, God who is the greatest feast.

Maybe there is someone out there that can tell me something that will really hit my heart about feasting. Hello?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Can it finally be January?

I can't believe a month has gone by since I wrote last. How time flies! A very snowy morning here in Northern NM. The big storm is at our doorstep and a strange sleepiness has overcome me. A good day to stay inside....6 inches and counting.

I have been looking for a commercial place to rent. I (we) have the idea, (in conjunction with Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in Santa Fe), that it might be good to see if we can collect some people interested in Orthodoxy here. I looked at one place. Too hidden. I looked at another in a great location, the door and bathroom were in the east corner, (want to set up a big icon corner) so that seemed not quite the right place. Also the bathroom is shared with the next office and that seems like it might not be so good.

Seems to me this morning that there is some other place that I haven't come across yet that might be just perfect. I feel that Jesus is telling me to look a little further. I don't quite know the shape of what I want to put in there. Certainly there will be books and lots of icons, and lots of prayer.

While I am praying and thinking that out there is something to look at, someone sent this to me. It is a fascinating site with 360 degree pictures of the Holy Sepulchre. Try clicking on the the bottom and you can look at the beautiful floors in different parts of the Great and Holy Church. Swing the picture to the top and and the ceiling can be viewed. Use the arrow keys to view different rooms. A pretty stunning virtual trip into this Holy place of Jerusalem!