Thursday, December 29, 2005

Golden Birthdays Happen Only Once

In the States, at least in this part of the States, one has a golden birthday when they turn the number that they were born on. So today is my golden birthday—29 on the 29th. It has been a lovely birthday at that—matins in the morning, a party with church friends (who I love very much) at lunch and relatives (also very loved) are coming over for dessert/cake tonight. My Grandma is coming for my Birthday dinner, which my Mother and Brother are making for me. My brother and I are going to hang out later tonight—a very full, wonderful birthday. God has really blessed me…

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Thoughts about this day

Today I was at one of my oldest friend’s houses…she has children and I spent the day talking with her and letting the kids do my hair [very cute, retro-punk] and reading stories to them….

It was a nice day, but I am tired now!

I am almost too tired to even put one thought in front of the other.

I think I am a little lonely, being the only Orthodox Christian here in my families’ house and on many levels I do not have people to readily communicate with…

I hope to go to the Christmas morning liturgy but have not found out yet if I will have a ride to this…

Yet, in all things, may I, may we, be thankful…

Friday, December 16, 2005

Still Loving Winter

It is a very beautiful day in Ottawa. Tons of snow and it is only – 7. Now really, for winter this is quite warm. And honest—with all the layers I was wearing, I did not feel cold at all. And I am seriously thinking about walking to work on days like this… all I need to do is when I am home for the holidays… I need to find my snow pants!

NOTE--will not be blogging much until next week, as I will be traveling homewards...

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

So blessed

I was at vespers and a very wonderful and powerful time learning about the end of John chapter 10 and the story of Lazarus in chapter 11… our priest was teaching about this. I felt like I was given the words I had been longing to hear at my Grandfather’s funeral. This was a very moving time.

After this I was not so surprised to hear my priest say that I was leaving over the holidays… I thought he would be saying something to the effect of the church will be praying for my travels… instead one of my good friends here in Ottawa, who had stopped by my place before vespers and ate some dinner with me, had a cake for my birthday [29 on December 29; my golden birthday] in her backpack and my spiritual father announced that it was going to be my birthday and invited everyone who was there to the church hall for cake in my honour. I was so surprised and my friend now has the nickname, ‘goddess of stinkers’ [she calls me the goddess of all things domestic so we are even] and I was sung many years to and was wonderfully surprised. This sort of attention always makes me a little shy and I was looking towards the ground during the singing…of course I liked it all though…

I felt very loved and happy.

So it was again an interesting night; I was almost crying hearing the wonderful words of truth about death and Christ’s calling Lazarus out of Sheol… thinking of my Grandfather… and then being, after the service was done, being loved for having a future-while-I-am-in-Michigan birthday…

Someday soon I need to write out all of the notes I took from the Bible study last night. I hope someday to gain the humility to fully take in how blessed and loved I am, and how it was demonstrated to me last night…

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

love of winter

I love Ottawa in winter!!! It is gorgeous, sunny and refreshingly cold… high currently is -12… but really, with layers, a winter coat, scarves, gloves/mittens, and hats/toques and good boots it is the best kind of winter… reminds me of being in Boston when I was 19 in January… and it is perfect ice skating winter… would be cool to skate on the canal once it freezes over…

Monday, December 12, 2005

a varied day

Such a strange day this has been.

Here’s the highlights…

*I have been thinking a lot about my Grandfather and his death, and the memorial service we had for him at church; I kept hearing my priest’s voice singing “Memory Eternal”… my priest and deacon did the service together, it was beautifully sung…at times it was hard for me to sing with them, as I kept almost breaking into tears…

*I have loved the weather. –14 today with lots of sunshine. So refreshing.

*Some friends and I had a great conversation yesterday with our priest about gender issues. I love it that the Orthodox Church has clear parameters about this; I feel so safe in my church because of this. Because of this conversation, my heart has been light...

*I worked on a collection development project all day for work…basically meant researching various medical journals online and putting the information I needed into an excel table (mind you this table is 16 pages printed on legal size paper)

*I posted my first recipe to Sprucies in the Kitchen website today … I had it for dinner…and now I am procrastinating on a mound of dirty dishes (from making 2 meals yesterday for the week) and on typing up some minutes for a committee I am on for school…

I think the best highlight though is this book I am reading: Romanian Patericon: Saints of the Romanian Orthodox Church by Archimandrite Ioanichie Balan, published by St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood at St. Paisius Abby … I am reading this on recommendation from my spiritual father…the book itself I am borrowing from a parishioner of my church, who is generous and trusting with his books!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Within This Day

I have added a few of my friends to my link section; I have a lot more (including more Sprucies) I want to add, but do not have time right now.

I am going to be cleaning house, making a vegan basmati rice salad for church tomorrow and need to be at church before 4.30 pm.

Tonight I and another friend are having a memorial service for our Grandparents… I am really glad for this. I really, of course, still miss my Grandfather. It has been less than a month since he died. I think those people one really loves are never forgotten and are always missed. Thank God my Grandfather is a faithful Christian; this is a great comfort.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

when does being busy become a sickness?

This is the first night home I have had in a while; I do not remember what I did Monday night, but Tuesday I got my train ticket and went to vespers, yesterday I went to a restaurant for a fellow student’s last day of co-op and vespers at the Cathedral (though I was late and ran 10 blocks in very cold air to get there). Tonight I stayed a half hour later and got the final groceries I needed before I leave for my parent’s home for the holidays. And I am one of the three project leads for gearing up the student-led mentorship committee at my school and am so happy to have a night to do those other things…like cleaning my house, being home, cooking… sometimes I have a hard time getting fully centred and want music on, but I am still not doing so (though I sure would like to hear Peter, at FilmChat’s interview tomorrow!)…

I am a bit concerned about the business of my life; I know I need nights to have to myself; and I just learned that there may be a Bible study next term that I really will want to attend; and I will be fitting in work for the mentorship committee… I am going to need a lot of prayer / to pray a lot about this…

I really believe that a lot of North American society today is too busy…over stimulated, over structured, over committed; and this sort of business seems to be receiving continual praise.

It is troubling.

It is, perhaps, even a sign of an inner spiritual malady.

The question it seems that I will have to work out for myself is how busy should I be and what is the fruit of the business. In the end I need what will bring me salvation.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

It is beginning.

Winter in Ottawa. The low tonight is -13 and the high for tomorrow is -5 degrees Celsius. Well if you could see me here, you would know that I have what I call ToughGirlBoots with wool in them (made in Canada too). I know that later I may be reporting that it is really cold, but right now I am just excited for the snow and for winter. Two of my favourite poets are Jane Kenyon and Donald Hall; Jane Kenyon always lamented the passing of summer and sun while Donald would grow increasingly happy as the days and darkness lengthened. As much as I can like summer (and I remember talking with one of my really good library school friends about longing for summer; months later we were gulping water our of our Nalgene bottles, melting as we walked to the air conditioned antiquarian book store)… I always find that my heart gets lighter as the snow comes.

(note: the one ‘rule’ I have about winter and snow is that I never wish the weather to cause car accidents… I always worry about people traveling; I am thankful that in the Orthodox church we always pray for those traveling on land, sea or air)

Saturday, December 03, 2005

silence needed for our life's work...

I have been super busy since I got back from the funeral—I had a good friend stay with me for 4 days, then I had company for the next two nights and last night I went out grocery shopping with 3 of my friends here, who go to my church. So later last night was the first night I had alone in a week’s time. Of course when I am alone, I had times where the grief of my Grandfather’s death overcomes me; I know I need these times.

Yet also I am aware of how much I love my little home; the little things I love, like cooking (this weekend I plan on making a vegetarian chilli and paella with tofu), talking on the phone with my very beloved friend and family, cleaning and generally just being.

Some of my happiest memories from a few summers ago were when I would be in my studio (in the BC lower mainland) and the sun would come in my big bay window. I would be sitting in my armchair, look at my clean kitchen counters and be still. There would be no music playing; I would just sit there. The solitude was so satisfying, refreshing.

I think it is that same sort of happiness that I feel again here, glimpses of it…the sun is slanting towards my kitchen, on my golden coloured wood floor, and things are quiet. I have been deliberately not listening to any music or radio since sometime in September. I could see that the music was merely breaking my internal peace, making me feel frantic (especially if it was not something like Bach). And I the songs I found I wanted in me were the songs of the Church, the many prayers.

At times I think we need to get away from sound to re-centre ourselves; it is only then that prayer comes from within you, just as solitude or a beautiful piece of music comes (from) within you, enveloping you from the inside, going outwards.

We need silence to face our aloneness and learn to find solitude as something that deepens and refreshes us, instead of being something to be feared, as human loneliness can be intense and frightening.

I am coming to believe that learning to live in silence can help us on our journey towards God, which is our true life’s work, the only one we were given to do…

Friday, December 02, 2005

taking care of our identities

Wow. It is incredible how much a computer can be taken on by a person. And do you notice how email and messenger accounts are all about creating a virtual presence, nearly saying that they are creating a online ‘you’… this came to me in a huge way when my preinstalled internet virus protection expired; you know a trial run. Well once I did not renew (sometimes 50.00 to spend can be a bit much, you know) they really started being annoying. Not only did I get tons of pop ups from them, the icon at the bottom of my screen always blinked and then all of a sudden that software changed its configuration and put the ‘parent control’ on and I could not even access my yahoo email account. I was so mad (and then had to go pray because I was mad, of course).

Well. I uninstalled the software and now they cannot bother me. I had already downloaded other software to protect my computer. It is just really a bit troubling how connected we are in the world to technology; it has really began to shape or culture and even our identity as people, not to mention our patience level.

I seriously think we should examine this more carefully and take care that our identities do not get wrapped in or around things, including technology.

Our culture here, from what I can see, is so intent on being busy and filled with underlying pride in our business that it can be dangerous to ourselves; that most people need noise/music/TV to function is just one of the indications of our troubled state.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Memory eternal...Grandfather

My Grandfather died on November 17, 2005. I was very encouraged by many of my friends and Orthodox families’ prayers for my Grandfather and my family. The day I found out he was dying, I was able to be in church praying for him at vespers and a week later, after returning from the funeral and travels home, I was back at church, praying for him still. I will really miss my Grandfather and will keep praying for him and for all of our family. My Grandfather’s prayer was that all of his family may know the Lord. Memory eternal…