Thursday, February 7, 2019

Three of us, members of Holy Trinity Church in Santa Fe, meet at a lovely hotel for a book study here in the community where we all live.
We are studying the book, Bread & Water, Wine & Oil, An Orthodox Christian Experience of God By Archimandrite Meletios Webber. It was published by Ancient Faith Publishing in 2007.


We inevitably find some wonder in it as we read parts out loud, sitting around a small table and drinking hot tea.
Today's section was on 'The Mystery of the Present Moment'. Being present to your life in the right now, no memories connected, no future to worry over but simply being. We were all struck by the Cosmic quality of who we are in relation to an awesome Cosmic God.  This quote particularly captured me:

P 80 (next to the last paragraph)
"The present moment is the interface between ourselves and the rest of the universe, and, more importantly, it is the only point of contact between the individual and God. Of all the possible points of time, only the present moment is available for repentance."

The infinity of Creation boggles my mind so it is hard to wrap my understanding around it.  This quote makes me aware of the importance of each human life in a huge incomprehensible universe. Thinking of our very personal lives, our motion, and interaction in our homes and our communities and the understanding of what we do matters and make a difference in the expanding world of stars, planets, and farthest space. It says to me that we are of infinite value.

Our cooperation with a God that cares for us so deeply and wants us to be in relationship with Him, who invites our repentance (turning back to him with apology at our breaking of relationship).
I find that totally awesome. Truly God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is breathtaking in His love for us and his continual invitation to be one with Him.
The simplest element of our lives, a moment, is of unfathomable importance.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

A snowy day here at the very beginning of the new year, January 1, 2019.



I fed the birds early in the day, being reluctant to go outside, I used a dust mop to pull the tray that I am using to feed the little birds over to a window.  The larger seeds are great for the bigger birds but the little guys, Juncos, Black-striped chickadees, and House Finches, get bullied away from the feeder by the larger birds.
Here is a photo of the small birds:



The larger birds every once in a while get the upper hand. Interesting that the dove is hanging back from the Tohee.
Pecking order!


Many of you probably feed birds as part of your daily routine. I love to go to the window and look out and see what is there today, right now. There is something filling in that process and such endless variety and motion, a wonderful entertainment.

In parallel to that, it is wonderful to look higher, to God, in prayer, so we are fed by him as He brings a deeper life and motion to us and a Presence of calm and joy.

May He Bless your New Year!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Looking for a way to use your resources today?
I know a sweet young family that is raising money to adopt a baby and increase the size of their family.


They would be immensely thankful because a contribution would enable them to meet their financial goals to adopt. It  would increase the size of  their family and give a child a wonderful home in which to grow up.
Thanking you in advance for your generosity!

Donate here:
https://purecharity.com/zappe-family-adoption?utm_source=Zappe+Family+Adoption&utm_campaign=df80af6f53-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_11_23&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_2e3afa9757-df80af6f53-2875001

Photos:

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Junk Thoughts


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Suicide


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And a small piece of a prayer:  

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

With God, Peace is to be found.

Water Tapestry © Claire Brandenburg

Monday, August 14, 2017

Fall

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

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

Here is this one:

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

Here is what this makes me think of:

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

Immediately I thought, "this guy wants something".

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

"No thank you," I said.

"How about one of those beers?"

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

He laughed.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Blessed Nativity!

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




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