Monday, August 29, 2016

A quiet Monday







I had a very quiet day today.
A dear friend reminded me of encouragement I had gotten
when I blogged about feeling that I would not be 
I see that I have written about it again, here.
I am learning that I can slow down,
that I can take days I need to rest so that I am better
able to handle my week.
***
I am seeing how much gentleness and space each person needs;
I know that I am not perfect, that I don't always do the best 
for others or even myself.
***
But I hope I am learning.
***
Today I baked a chicken, 
am baking potatoes,
I am thinking always of my writing,
of my long list of things to do.
But I am trying not to let the long list produce a 
need to do things when the best thing to do is rest.
***
I got a new cookbook today, from a dear friend;
I hope to make the flour-less cake sometime soon, if God so grants. 
***
But I knew, today, that it was OK to rest, be quiet...

Friday, August 26, 2016

About today...



I am having a lot of fun with my new writing work.
I created a FB page for my work as a writer, feel free to have a look.
***
I wanted to note that my post on Conciliar Post was their 695th post
since 2014.  They have been doing a lot of great work in
dialoguing for 2 years and I am quite happy to be 
involved now.
***
This weekend is going to be full.
We have work being done on our condo;
Feast of Dormition on Sunday.
***
Read and appreciated this post by Fr. Lawrence. 
***
Thinking about topics of love and boundaries; 
a friend reminded me of this podcast:
Here's the one about boundaries.
I found it to be a great summarization on the topic.
 ***
I feel like I am straggling towards a finish line - 
summer is almost at an end, and then new things begin.
We are trying some new things with our Sunday School
because of changes both in our team and in the numbers of kids 
coming (we've doubled in size).
If you would, please say a prayer for us!
***
I am still loving the Donald Sheehan book;
am also quite intrigued by this book:
***
My Aunt's surgery went well, 
Thank God.
She will be recovering for a while.
Thank you for your prayers.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

From life to death and everything in between



Mr. Husband's Uncle, as his father wrote us early this morning, 
passed on into glory.
May God remember him in His Kingdom!
***
I feel like I understand the Orthodox prayer, memory eternal, in a very 
simple warm way now: it is like a Mother praying for her child, 
asking God to take care of the child and always remember this child in His care,
for the Mother one day will die and not be able to pray on earth anymore for this child,
but the prayer has already been made:
Lord, always take care, always remember, this child who I am committing to Your care. 




My first article went live, whew, that was a big deal for me! 
It's currently at '96' views and I am grateful for each one.
Thanks for everyone's support, love, well wishes and esp. to those who read
my article and commented!
What a blessing of a blog community I have! 


In other news, I went swimming this morning.
There was a family there, a tall strong dad,
a teenage brother who did dives very well,
two younger teen girls, and a small girl, maybe 5 years old,
with a smile so big, and she was very good at taking instructions and had
no fear of swimming.
It was lovely to see.


I painted. 





The blanket that Mat. Anna did for my newest godson came!!!
It's beautiful!
(My picture shows it uneven, but it is actually perfectly strait!
A real lovely work of art!)
I think I have everything for our godson now!
***
My Aunt's surgery went well, last I heard and we are all quite relieved. 
***
And so today had death, new life, continued life, normal summer life and 
new ventures all in one day!
Eventful, to say the least! 
I hope your day has been peaceful...

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained



I've been thinking for a long while about my 
dream of writing short essays, meaningful
nonfiction that can connect, comfort and give people the 
pause we all need, for thought and reflection.
***
Suddenly, an opportunity came to me, that
was unexpected but welcomed!
***
one of the founders of the web-platform,
that this man wrote on,
asked if I would write for them.
So I said I would be honoured to,
and now, I am!
***
You can find me here, at Conciliar Post,
DV every 2 weeks. 
I also have created a new blog, dedicated to the essays
that I am writing for publication.  
You can see this blog, here!
***
A lot of my essays will be familiar to my dear
blog readers!  The first one I am writing, 
is one that I first wrote on a year ago.
***
We write best when we write our own story; and so it is with this
understanding that I begin!
***
My first essay for Conciliar Post is on the topic of anxiety,
really a meditation on anxiety and what I learned about it over the years.
***
Perhaps I will write another essay on it someday,
it really all started in 1998, when one day I was in my dorm room,
and it is like I suddenly woke up, 
though I was standing at the time,
and I realized that my entire self was riddled through with worry.
***
It would be some years before I would even begin to untangle all the causes,
 reasons or even see that this anxiety could be fought and healed.
I am still in that process but I know now what it is a war to be waged,
it is something to be fought.
***
And so, my first writing is on this journey... 
***
My first essay begins...

"When I still lived in Ottawa, I went through a time when I was unemployed, spent my carefully tended savings to survive and then ran out of money completely.   For a few months I did not know how I was going to pay rent or buy food.  Scary.  Twice in my life I went through testing to see if I had cancer; each time, no cancer.  Everyday now it seems that apocalyptic fearful things happen; the news tells us only of some.  Anxiety has weighed me down deep in it’s ocean, submerging me under in its waves.  It was there I learned you need to fight and deal with fear and anxiety while you are in the midst of it.

When overwhelmed, I pray small quick prayers: when I am afraid, I trust in Thee; I repeat this prayer many times.  I can breathe again.  I do small prayers, cross myself, say the Jesus Prayer(Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me), these all help.  I am learning to tune out a lot of news and worry. That you can choose to have a peaceful day or an anxious day. It's all where and what you focus on and put your energy towards….With Christ one can develop a well of interior peace, an inward fortress.  I am not there yet.  But Mother Gavrilia shows that the way towards this peace is to accept everything in my life, to live in my ‘today’ with God and trust that God’s will is unfolding, even if my life and well being are in peril.

I started learning this in Ottawa when I was unemployed;...". read the rest
here (or here)!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Weekend Adventures


Pom Pom had asked a question recently that I have been meaning to answer....
She wanted to know about the fast that we are in right now.
It's a great little summer fast; it is for the Mother of God;
I know that some of my readers may not understand this term;
it was established by the 4th Century AD in an effort to show 
both the humanity and divinity of Christ;
the Virgin Mary gave birth to Christ as fully God and fully man;
the Church at the time was dealing with the Nestorian heresy
which was trying to take a way the name of the Virgin Mary, 
which in Greek is Theotokos 
Theo = God
Tokos = bearer
Theotokos = God-bearer 
(if you want to know more, see here).
***
Of course the Church was getting this also right from the Holy Gospel.
when St. Elizabeth, the Mother of St. John the Baptist,
asks the Virgin Mary:
***
Now that this is clear, 
the little summer fast is for the Mother of God,
and is specifically about her death.
While this event is not in the Gospels itself, it is in very 
early Church documents and Church tradition; 
you can read more here on this, to see how she was already 
being written about by the 1st Century and by very early Christians.
If you want to know more, some places to look are
here, here, here and here
***
So the Dormition fast for the "New Calendar" Orthodox Christians
(they have Christmas on Dec 25) is from August 1-14, with August 15
being the Feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God;
the "Old Calendar" Orthodox Christians (who have Christmas on Jan 7),
Dormition fast is from August 14-August 27, with Dormition being August 28th.
It's too bad in a lot of ways that we Orthodox are on 2 calendars,
but these decisions were made in the 1920's in some but not all 
ethnically Orthodox Countries; so we are stuck with the calendar 
split now; the time that the Orthodox calendar is still 'one' is from 
Lent-Pentecost... 
***
Anyway, there's a bit about the fast!
If you are fasting fully (We fast according to our health needs)
this means that you would be abstaining from meat and dairy products.
***
It's really a lovely fast and a favourite of mine! 
And the Feast of the Transfiguration of Christ is right in the middles of it!
But that's for another post... :)



We are praying for one of my Husband's Uncles who is in his last hours now,
after a very long valiant struggle with cancer; he is a very Christian man and 
I had the honour of meeting him a few summers ago.
His immediate family is with him, as well as others...and the rest of us are 
surrounding him with prayer....


I got some new books recently!
I am reading some incredible ones right now,
that in time I hope to write on; it's a book one needs to read
slowly or one misses a lot of what is being said; it's a beautiful,
riveting and thought-provoking book.



 We stayed local today for church...not the original plan,
but our AC stopped cooling on Saturday and we had to be nearby for
the hydro company to come and check it out...
only to find out that it had froze up so much that a copper pipe was 
totally white with frost!
So we are carefully defrosting it and trying to make sure that it does not leak into our
neighbour's unit below us (this has happened before!).... sadly! ... 


So we have been having no-bake cold meals...
but it's summer, so lots of wonderful fruit to enjoy!
***
The AC person comes back tomorrow, hopefully everything will be put aright!
***
And that's the latest here!
What's going on in your neck of the woods?

Friday, August 19, 2016

Time with our dear friends and our goddaughter












We had such an enjoyable time.
The meal was as follows: 

Fast Friendly Delicacies :)

Salad
Fruit salad
Nuts
hummus, pita
avocado 
guacamole and chips 
yellow / red / green peppers
tomatoes
watermelon
strawberries, oranges, pineapple and banana salad
blessed grapes
shrimp roll with cocktail sauce
Dates
Indian Junk Food :)
Nuts
lemon water
Still water
***
I had great fun playing with my goddaughter who
loved the IKEA 'bang the coloured pegs down' toy!
I read to her, we gave her a beautiful icon of her Guardian Angel from
Holy Dormition Monastery, which I forgot to photograph...
Another special memory was carrying her downstairs (we live on the second floor)
and singing to her...
***
It was so delightful to see our old dear friends...
***
I am in a really busy time of year already now,
I wanted to mention,
so if I don't blog as much,
it's not that I am unwell,
just busy and figuring out when to do what.
***
I am glad I got a moment to capture this evening, that was
a week ago tomorrow!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Wonderful Visit!


It was so wonderful to see our goddaughter again!
I hope to write more later this week,
lots to do right now, 
but wanted to quick pop in!
She's so cute and loved playing in the kids station/area! 
I loved seeing how she 'Crosses' her self too! 
So precious! 
Do you see how she is on her 'tippy toes' to play? 
One happy godmother here! :) 

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Various Happy Things


The big gaping black 'thing' above is a swordfish;
My Husband thought it was really cool, as it is so big! 


Mr Husband and I went shopping tonight,
stocking up on things and getting lots of simple foods for the fast
and, excitingly, DV, to share with my our dear friends and our 
goddaugther (who is almost 2!) who we get to see for the first time
in over 1.5 years tomorrow! So excited!!! 


I got a lot done on my godson's quilt this past week or so; I am so happy for that too.


I returned the coat I bought that failed to work as well as it looked online;
it's so funny how one street different in NYC/Manhattan can look and feel so different;
I am used to 6th street (also called 'the avenue of the Americas') and the intense, busy,
crowded shops, with various street vendors and all sorts of people walking on through those
streets... and just one street over, it was quieter, much more spread out streets,
more expensive shops and a more grand looking street... 
just one long street block past 6th street!
NYC is a fascinating intense place! 


We are ready for the upcoming fast (and fast days after this!) now that I went to Trader Joes...
we really enjoy their Veggie Masala burgers! 
And later DV we will enjoy the ice cream!...


It's been super hot! I was in NYC on Thursday and I felt like I was 
doing some sort of olymipic sport, whew it was hot! Real feel was 107F.
I had my red cart and took that with me to Trader Joes and on the PATH train home!
There's a really nice small diner near the Trader Joes and
 I had this cool yogurt, granola and fruit
dish for lunch... it's a quiet place, 
they don't have music playing and I always feel refreshed after
being there, even in the midst of busy NYC! 


This Tuna Cat food via Trader Joes is Cleo's favourite. 
She's a little Tuna-addict.  She begs for it often now.  We just give her a little
at a time... :)


Today is the last day before the fast, so Mr Husband spoiled me
and let me get my faveourite take out!
So wonderful to not have to cook and heat up the house 
and still have such nice things to eat! 
***
I am really enjoying writing now days and am working on a
few peices to put up later.
It was really good to write my last blog post and put some things to writing
that I felt should be written but that I did not yet have the words for.
I'm really happy about that.
***
I hope you are all doing well!
Blessed fast or feast,
whatever you are heading into!
***
And a blessed Sunday to all! 

Friday, August 12, 2016

When confronted with another person's struggle / journey of Faith








It was startling,
reading an essay about a man who seemed to be CRC 
(Christian Reformed Church - the one I grew up in)
and had some painful experiences while trying to figure out if
the Orthodox Church was for him.
***
I wrote a long reply to him, after finding out that
his article was not upfront with the changes he was making,
namely leaving the CRC to become Anglican and go to their seminary.
Thankfully there are comments and also earlier articles are more upfront about this.
(my reply is at the end of this post).
***
Anyway. 
I've been thinking about one's journey and struggle in trying to find 
out where one belongs in terms of church.
***
It brought up a lot and I am thinking of how I may write about it here.
***
I think the first thing to say is the following:
Everyone has their own journey.
I have lots of friends who are all over the spiritual map.
My local closest friend is a Protestant who knows a bit about Orthodoxy.
Mainly my closest friends, who live for the most part in Canada,
are Orthodox; yet on a daily lived out manner,
my Mom is my best friend after my Husband.
She's CRC and always has been.
***
I say this as being a committed Orthodox Christian,
one who believes that the Orthodox Church is the fullest expression
of Christianity found today.
***
But I know that everyone has their own journey,
their own struggles and path.
I often wish everyone knew about Orthodoxy and all that it offers.
But for many reasons, many will never become Orthodox, even more,
many will never be Christians. 
***
I really liked Dimitri's Cross in part because he somehow was
able to work well with other Christians of different churches; of course the world was
very different then; a lot of Christian churches are vastly different in 
appearance, belief and action today.  
***
In the end, 
I trust God to have mercy on all of us,
including myself, who has been given so much,
a good Husband, a Christian upbringing and for 12 years now,
the Orthodox Church.
It's in God's hands, not mine, to sort all of that out.
***
I think what I want to focus on first though is how we must not judge
another person's journey and, with that, be careful of how we speak of
what we have found to be best for us or even the highest truth.
***
I am not at all meaning or implying that every road or path is equal or that
there is not Truth.  I became Orthodox at age 27, knowing that if I was not 
allowed to become Orthodox, I would have nothing left.
It was Orthodoxy or nothing. 
I had found something that for me was irreplaceable...
 I remember that summer
that I was in Michigan, still a catechumen
 (someone who is in that process of
instruction before fully joining the church) 
I had this irrational fear, huge and gripping,
 that somehow I would be found
not ready to be a full member by Chrismation (the service where one joins,
some are only Chrismated, some are Baptised and Chrismated)
and I would have absolutely no where else to go.
I still feel that way, that Orthodoxy is all I have and all I need.
***
That said, I think gentleness when hearing another person's story is
always of paramount importance.
You don't know what struggles and life experience have brought them to 
the point they are at; the battle they are in, the person themselves
may not fully understand.
***
Life is really hard, let's be gentle first.
Zealous excitement about one's faith can often, as it did this
soon to be Anglican seminarian, really hurt someone and 
even stop them from a journey they may have been on towards
Orthodoxy.... or, worse, towards God Himself, if the person is not
a Christian.... 
***
Anyway, I thought I would write about the one thing
that I always hesitated to write about,
for fear of being misunderstood or worse, hurting someone else.
***
So, going back many years, 
I was recently chrismated when I moved
back to Canada; 
I had 3 Sundays as a newly chrismated Orthodox Christian before I went 
back to Canada to do my Masters in Library and Information Science,
over ten years ago now.
I went from two great parishes with friends my age
to a small lovely parish that had very few people my age, a church that
was hard to get to at the time, (they have moved now, different priest, location, 
everything), and I was so lonely.  Surprisingly to many, 
my Masters degree was the first place I went to that was not a Christian institution.
I grew up going to Christian Schools from Kindergarten through to my 
Honours BA in English Lit.
I had one Christian friend my age that whole first year, a Protestant.
***
At the time the church was small and there were some
very excited more zealous people who somehow left me,
I, who was still quite new and excited about the Orthodox Faith,
feeling excluded and bewildered. 
I think part of the issue, looking back, was that they did not realize that
I was still getting my inward footing; 
I have some beautiful memories from that parish.
It was just that Church was going through
a real time of transition and growth
and I went through a time of intense work at school,
not a lot of connection with my church during the week;
my blog was over a year from being 'born', facebook was not yet
what it became later, no Instagram etc. So not much social media 
connections either.
So I was isolated.  Lonely.  Confused.  
***
Add to this that the place I was renting became difficult;
I had a lovely small tall walled studio apartment,
ground floor of a big sprawling old yellow bricked house,
that in it's glory would of been a sight to behold.
The people in the apartments above me, got worse and worse.
Parties every weekend, etc.  Loud. Drunken. 
Eventually, weeks before I was to move to Ottawa for co-op,
the one group of kids was evicted after the cops told them
that I had reported their party.  (CRAZY).
(Were talking 2 AM in the morning here or worse).
They were evicted because they verbally threatened me through my window,
the next day, which was open with a large old fashion fan in it.  
I remember calling my landlord and leaving a very panicked voicemail;
thankfully it was enough to finally evict them. 
***
So I was so exhausted, frazzled, for months.
***
By the time I came to Ottawa I was really inwardly 
depleted, conflicted and confused; 
the Church that had given me so much was now something
I wondered if I could keep going to; I felt so alone;
it was so painful.
***
And then, well, I moved. Ottawa!
I met my spiritual father of 7 years.
I met tons of Orthodox friends my age.
My sister-friend and her husband moved to Ottawa the same
time that I did; I suddenly had a church in walking distance from my home;
my questions, the pain I was in, within 2 months or so evaporated.
I was able to go to Confession often; I was loved and accepted for where I was at.
I suddenly had this great community to support and love me.
It all got so much better...
such happy memories now.
My questions, my confusion, it was all healed.
***
And I know that my third church, the one in transition,
I know it's better too; it's now local to the community instead of far away; etc.
***
But I write this to say that if I had been shamed, guilted or 
treated badly by my Ottawa church, who knows what would of happened;
I was in a really confused vulnerable space.
Remember, I had been a catechumen for just under a year and then moved to my
3rd church (life of a student, moving for work, moving for school) and 
that church was so far away that I felt left adrift, etc...my Ottawa church was my 4th
church in 2 years! I was really new!
***
Anyway.
An example of how one can struggle, 
how one can be healed by being loved,
and how one must be gentle with others who 
may be struggling too.
***
Well, that's it for today.
***
My response to this essay, that triggered this post,
as I mentioned earlier, is below.
***

[Note: I wrote this below with the understanding of your current service and being a CRC pastor, it seem that you are leaving the CRC to become Anglican; I am going to leave what I wrote as I wrote it, but wanted to make that clear that I wrote it without knowing your change of liturgical direction, Church affiliation, etc. It does, however change a lot of my understanding of who you are and where you are going, not only in what you already understand but in what you are willing to undertake. Please keep in mind that when I wrote this, I had no idea of the huge change you are undertaking. Side note: My friend who gave me my first ride to my first Orthodox church is still Anglican and very aligned with what I see the school you are going to is trying to do. I was at her wedding 2 or so summers back and she and her friends were delightfully classical and Christian, so I get where you are at or aiming to be at. However, I am keeping what I wrote it ‘as is’ in part because it seems to be the only way to answer what you actually wrote as opposed to what you choose to conceal.]
My husband pointed out that you are in the CRC church. We both came from CRC backgrounds, but you could say that I am a CRC (former) ‘pharisee of ‘pharisees’ (as St Paul said of himself about his Jewish roots). I grew up in Western MI, went to CRC school and church from Kindergarten-2nd year of college. I learned to swim at Calvin as a girl. To this day I am deeply thankful to God for such a wonderful, unified Christian upbringing. My parents have virtues that I still do not have in myself and I really respect them. My sister and her husband were (Protestant) missionaries to Romania, which, as you know is an Orthodox country. While we may not agree on things, I still hold my sister and brother-in-law with great respect for the love and care they have demonstrated there to orphans and now as urban missionaries in the States.
I become Orthodox about 12+ years ago, by way of experience more than study, though I did read various books. I am sorry for the personal experience you have had; you clearly met a lot of ‘hyperdox hermans’ as we like to call them. Actually Ancient Faith Radio often ran a ‘blurb’ (for us Orthodox) about a convert who was bashing his Protestant upbringing and the Bishop finally asked him ‘did you become Orthodox so you can hate? And then said you should appreciate your upbringing and thank God for it; he went further to say that you can ‘baptise’ everything and bring it with you. While perhaps you do not like the ‘baptise’ part, the message he said is clear: take everything that is God-loving, God-honouring and bring it with you.
You love a lot of the writers I love within Orthodoxy and have clearly read a lot and it has really enriched you. It’s wonderful to meet Christians who are willing to go outside of what they know to learn more about ways Christianity is practiced. I have a family member, who I love dearly, who asked me “Why are you leaving the faith?” when I was becoming Orthodox. So thank you for your openness. I am so sorry you have not experienced the same kindness that you were offering within yourself when looking at Orthodoxy as an option.
I wanted to touch on a few things you wrote:
First, here, you write:
"In addition to this, the divisions that existed back then between the bishops and the heretics were quite a bit more severe than the divisions which exist between the Orthodox bishops and the Western Church today. Listen to how St. Ignatius describes the heretics of his day:
“For they speak of Christ, not that they may preach Christ, but that they may reject Christ; and they speak of the law, not that they may establish the law, but that they may proclaim things contrary to it. For they alienate Christ from the Father, and the law from Christ. They also calumniate His being born of the Virgin; they are ashamed of His cross; they deny His passion; and they do not believe His resurrection. They introduce God as a Being unknown; they suppose Christ to be unbegotten; and as to the Spirit, they do not admit that He exists. Some of them say that the Son is a mere man, and that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are but the same person, and that the creation is the work of God, not by Christ, but by some other strange power.8”
I personally do not know of any Western Christians, Catholic or Protestant, who would adhere themselves to any point of this heretical tradition as described by St. Ignatius. Given that this is the case, perhaps the word “heretic” needs to be reconsidered just a bit. I sincerely hope that my Orthodox friends can see that the wedge which divides us Western Christians from their bishops is much less severe than the divisive issues that St. Ignatius is speaking of.”
Sadly it needs to be said that I do believe that you friends are wrong in dismissing you and other Christians as ‘heretics’ in the way that you are using St. Ignatius is writing. Any pride and elitism in any Christian church is wrong. (I knew the CRC/ RCA division and its elitism and even of one Dutch Grandmother of a friend, God bless her, who did not like Dutch people who were from Friesland!). I must say, however, that in your efforts to show why the elitism you found in Orthodox people is wrong, you are not accounting for the whole picture of the Christian world, esp.in the West. While, thank the Lord, there are many Christians who still believe in Christ and His Resurrection, I know there are those who call themselves ‘Christians’ who have ceased to believe in Christ, His Resurrection and the Virgin Birth. You have not taken into account a lot of the more liberal Christianity as it were, such as the Anglican Bishop Robinson of the 1960 who quested the Virgin Birth and Second Coming of Christ (http://www.nytimes.com/1983/12.... Bishop Spong came after Robinson and continued in dismantling many Christian tenants, sadly like St. Ignatius was describing. I was never confirmed in the Anglican church, but attended one for a couple of years. It was the Anglican Bishop there who, when I did go to an Orthodox church and meet an Orthodox Bishop, convinced me to ‘jump ship’ as the Anglican Bishop was continuing the liberal tradition I just mentioned above. [ have Anglican friends who are in conservative pockets of Anglicanism who are trying to preserve what these Bishops were and are destroying].
For me, I became Orthodox in part because I found a Church who was not dismantling the fundamental Christian beliefs and because I had come to believe in the Eucharist as ‘real’ and that the IS in John ch 6 simply means ‘is’. I was living in BC Canada when I first ‘discovered’ Orthodoxy and it was the kind Bishop and priest there who were such examples of both hospitality and love while keeping the truth of Christ and the Church beliefs unbroken. I am sorry you did not experience the same hospitality.
On another note: I think you are missing something in your (understandable, normal) reaction to being ‘evangelized’. Yes, of course you don’t need to be introduced to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, or at this point, some basic Church history, as you enjoy reading it. You don’t need to be ‘made’ a Christian or need training in the beliefs that you quoted St. Ignatius speaking on. However, the Orthodox Church (and the Roman Catholic on this point) do have a different view on some fairly basic things. The one I would say is most easy to see and one of the most important is the difference in belief of Holy Communion, or as we would also say, the Eucharist. I went to catechism class at my CRC church in my teen years and of course there are Adult Sunday School classes. I studied the Heidelberg Catechism, Canons of Dort, etc. These all are about teaching the faith right? Well, if the Orthodox Church is true to their beliefs, they would also offer teaching on them. And the Eucharist is a fairly clear ‘dividing line’ of difference in belief. I know the CRC well and I know Orthodoxy well and they believe fundamentally different things in terms of what the Scripture means in John ch 6 plus the words later by St. Paul on the Lord’s Supper/the Eucharist. Please, in your upset about how you were treated, don’t fail to see that it would be the calling of both the CRC and the the Orthodox Church to teach according to their beliefs. If the Orthodox Church is ‘right’ on their views (i.e. the Eucharist), it could be hard to know what to do with it. It’s pretty hard to ever deal with the possibility of what you thought to be true may not be so. It’s great that you have been open in this way, it’s appreciated and the struggle too!
I want to touch on this as well:
“Is there one Eastern Orthodox eucharist within a region under the headship of one Eastern Orthodox bishop, or do we often find multiple eucharists under multiple bishops in a region? Do not the various jurisdictions (OCA, ROCOR, Antiochian, Greek, Romanian, Serbian..etc.) have their own churches within close proximity to one another that celebrate their own eucharistic services under the oversight of their own bishops? Within my own city (St. Louis) I know that all of the various parishes do not come together for the Eucharistic Liturgy but they all do their own thing on Sundays. Is this not contrary to what St. Ignatius is instructing us in? Does this embody the oneness that he speaks of whenever Orthodox churches are divided along lines of ethnicity?”
I feel that you need to be more patient with the American Orthodox situation. We are all pretty much aware of this and it is merely situational as it were; it’s what America is, almost everyone here is from somewhere else culturally and they bring where they are from with them. There are 2 things you may be missing here. 1. We who are Orthodox can commune at any Orthodox church. I have communed at all the church jurisdictions you mentioned and more; I have, by virtue of moves, been a member of 5 churches in 5 different jurisdictions. I have gone to various monasteries and am currently serving with my husband at a very traditional jurisdiction. I mention this to show you that 1. We are not all ‘hyperdox hermans’ and 2. The Orthodox Church is still one and shares one Chalice universally, as it were. It is beautiful that there are so many ethnic traditions within Orthodoxy; there is a wonderful freedom in this way that you may not be seeing, perhaps because of how you were hurt by zealous people.
2nd point here: It’s good to realize how Orthodoxy has changed - you are right. I would say this does not upset us, though, but makes the history of the liturgical changes quite fascinating. Have you read _The Historical Road of Eastern Orthodoxy_ By Fr Alexander Schmemann? I loved that one esp. because it also did not gloss over times the Orthodox church made mistakes, historically speaking. This actually helped me trust the Orthodox Church more, as I find anyone/anything that will not admit mistake/s to be false/untrustworthy. The Orthodox Church doctrines are what we would say have not changed, not liturgical practice. As you know, Saints like St. Gregory Palamas have further refined understandings that the earlier fathers were writing on. The form of Orthodoxy, in terms of liturgical changes, have happened and I don’t see that this takes away from Orthodoxy or it’s doctrinal claims.
Lastly, I don’t know if you realize how hurt you have been by being treated as you have. There was a point in my life, early on in Orthodoxy, that I was hurt in similar ways, by well meaning but zealous people who needed to calm down a bit. Thank God I soon after met a very good priest and confessor who helped me through that. In time I was able to get past the hurt because I was loved out of it and accepted where I was, with all my questions/hurt. This helped me to gain perspective (took some time!!!), to let it go and to forgive. Think of your beloved St. Silouan and his father, who he said was a deep example of a Starez. The Father had such silence and love, doing a simple reproach to his son months later. It’s hard when we meet people who are not like that, but we are all to see ourselves as spiritual beginners. To be honest, esp. for converts, it can take a while for them to get to a point where love and hospitality to take root at the same level as their excitement. St. Silouan’s father was at a very high level spiritually speaking.
To be able to see Orthodoxy in a different light than you do now (which you may or may not want or choose to do), I think you would have to be healed of the hurt first. And that can take a while. It’s very painful to feel so failed by what one was once so excited about; it’s hard even for us who have been Orthodox a long time to realize that people in their own church/es, including oneself, are so wounded spiritually, etc. However, the Orthodox Church is a place for sinners and while painful to be the one who experiences fallout from another’s struggle, one can regain peace and have healing in time. I would agree with the priest and monk you spoke to, that if Orthodoxy is creating such unrest within you, it is not for you at this point, maybe later, maybe not. I think it is fair (at least in some ways) to point out the failings that you have seen in the untoward. It’s good to realize where one fails and what to try NOT to do to others. Of course, as you yourself alluded to, your experience is limited to the people you have met; Orthodoxy is a lot bigger and better than only those you have met up to this point. May God bless you! Thank you again for your honesty and openness to other Christian traditions.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

My Great Aunt P.'s home ~ going back a month




I have been in my Great Aunt P's house various times in my 
growing up years, and I love how it has stayed the same, and that I got to 
see it again this past July.  My Great Aunt P is 90 now and still living 
in her own home; she was widowed when I was 9, so about 30 years ago.
She kept busy volunteering at a school (she is a teacher),
 delivering flowers to hospitals (she said this volunteer job ended 
because hospital stays now are so short,
that if anything, a florist would deliver flowers right to one's home!), 
and she still volunteers at a Christian thrift store
 (the GR MI area has several, 
one for a Christian mental hospital,
one for a Christian adoption agency, many for Christian schools, 
one for Bibles-for-Missions,
another for a Christian shelter and soup kitchen, 
not to mention Good Will...)
****
I just love kitchens; Aunt P's kitchen is so nice, with so much cupboard and counter space,
gas oven, window over the kitchen sink!... 
It's pretty much my dream kitchen!



I love her dining room area as well... such a lovely beautiful big window, wall space and 
place for dinner with guests!


My Great Aunt P is a knitter!
She is doing a sweater with lots of cables!
I love it.  She's really good!


She says she has to be careful what she tells her kids she likes,
as they will surprise her with it later!
Sweet tray, near to her cottage that I wrote about here.


Polished petoskey stones, from Lake MI, found years ago... 


I also have that pewter tray, for our daily bread.... such simple beauty!




Whenever I think of my Aunt P's place, I think of her books; she loves to read,
has been part of a book club for many years...
such a fulfilling life she has lead! 
I treasure it and every detail therein... 


She said that this print was a set of prints that she used to trade out 
every so often, but it was her Mother's frame and got too delicate to be 
touched / used this way, so now this print stays in all the time...
my Mom has the same one... Rembrandt's I mean Vermeer's Milk Maid... 
(thanks Lisa!) 


I had to memorize this when I was a child, as did my Mother....
a cornerstone of CRC/Dutch Christian culture...


 Paintings that my Aunt P's daughter D. did years ago,
when she was a teacher in a town with little to offer...
she's lived in CA now for decades and does not paint as much now,
but reads, teaches math to high school teachers; she is at retirement age,
but is still teaching; she loves it; how wonderful that is!




My Aunt P told me that her husband, my Uncle P, built her these bookshelves, with tile
on top so she could have flowers there...I love this tangible act of love he did for her...
she said they designed a few houses a before this one,
 and they got exactly what they wanted by this 
house, which they had for a few, maybe 7,
years together, before my Uncle P got sick... he died when I was 9
of an adult form of leukemia, 
I still remember being at a park at a picnic table with them all,
the last time I saw my Uncle alive...
it was summer time...
if I remember rightly, My great Aunt B's husband my Uncle H died first, 
then my Uncle P, then my
Grandma, Aunt P and Aunt's B's Dad, 
and the newly widowed Mother of overcome by 
the sorrow of losing two sons-in-laws and
 her husband within about 3 months time; 
I think there were other deaths around that time too; 
so much; so quickly;
I think my Great Grandmother lived 
about another year after this.
Yet, they will all tell you of the goodness of God....


My Great Grandmother did the embroidery on this chair. 
She collected dishes, having 3 sets I think; she did embroidery like this for various
family members, apparently the flower pattern was set on there and one only had
to do the background colour; I can see I am like her; this sort of simple crafting is often
what I do, not wanting or having the brain space to do all that counting that
knitting patterns call for.


Look at all the pots of tea my Great Aunt can make!
So many tea parties could be done! :)


I love her simple canister set, next to her eat-in kitchen... 


I loved seeing her house again, it had been at least 10 years or more since I was there....
And, there, is my Aunt P's home!
I loved seeing it again!