Friday, June 19, 2015

{reflections} ~ the quiet power of books, mothering, and what we take in

I am writing on a cloudy day
here in New Jersey,
living near NYC.
It's one of those days that I realize that needs to be
a quiet day, shades drawn, quiet reading and working.
It's rare to have these days and I am thankful for today.
Years ago when I was in between jobs and constantly
in that struggle,
I had more of these days,
in between times, in between things and I remember
reading books on the Optina Fathers,
Esp. Abbot Moses and well, 
it was a special time.
I am hoping this summer to carve out a bit more of this time.
I am working on reading two books right now
in this line:
one that I borrowed from one of our deacons:
These are books that I find I have to read in quiet,
in a place where I am not in a hurry and can pay attention.
I am hoping to teach my Sunday School children next year
not only more about the church year but
what the goal of our life should be...
I know this goal is intrinsically this:
to know Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit and to 
have Christ dwell in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.
Of course to even begin to enter this goal,
one needs to see one's need for Christ and for the salvation that He offers.
The teaching will be at their level of course,
the books I am reading are currently above them but the essence
of Christianity and of what the Orthodox Church offers is
accessible at any age. 
It is something I am just a mere new born baby in incorporating in my life.
I am also thinking of how my habits have changed in terms of media
over the years.  
It's something I actually don't blog about that much,
for various quite valid reasons...
Well, I guess I will start with when I was 20 and 
went to a Bible School in Sweden,
before cell phones and data, when email was still quite new (3 or so years old).
facebook had not yet been invented and I did not know the word
social media or what a 'blog' is.
But CD players, headsets, headphones those we knew then already.
Here's what my months at the school included:
~no access to email
~no music playing outside of headphones on an individual.
So very little media distraction.
The music was huge for me.
I remember the sensation of music and songs slowly draining out of me;
like I would hear the song internally and then it would leave,
as it were....
 (though not completely,
so many songs are ingrained in my memory, so that
when I hear them again, it's all there).
It was my first experience with silence.
I was newly 20.
I wanted God in a real way and I spent a lot of time pouring over my Bible
and writing God prayers (that's how I mainly prayed back then
and I know that God accepts what the youth has to give).
Well, fast forward about 8 or 9 years and I am newly in Ottawa.
I just started this blog.
I was so overcome by my new church and, really, learning to go 
to confession on a regular basis for the first time
(I moved so much as a student that for various reasons
I just had not had a chance to really get this one, as it were, in
terms of routine). 
I also did not have a stereo with me in Ottawa. 
So much was happening all at once, 
life and death, a lot of growth, and I found I needed to meet 
it all in silence.
For years before this, I had gone the gamut in terms of music,
from all Christian Contemporary music, to just popular music of the day,
to folk, to all classical, to newly founded Ancient Faith Radio...
TV I had not had in years.
The whole long 'reality shows' began after I stopped watching TV.
I as much more interested I guess in reading books than TV,
though I remember the first place I lived off campus had a TV
and I spent all Spring Break that year watching 
mystery movies and TV shows of this nature.
So now I do some classical music, some chant, various Orthodox music
and many days silence, though it all goes in circles between these.
Part of this change was when I realized how anxious of a person I can be
and that a lot of popular music was feeding that anxiety and generally
destroying a sense of calm, peace and goodness that can be found
through the Church.
I have realized how profoundly music, TV, movies can impact 
me internally ~ I am seeing now that our culture
is profoundly influenced by (TV) shows, movies, music...
It's something I am glad I have distanced myself from
in part because I feel it has given me the space to be able 
to think, discern and see what to keep and what to be wary of
in our current cultural milieu.
I have a long ways to go of course.
While I can do silence, not watch shows, 
I still do FB, I still struggle very much with 'screen time.'
but I also have hope that God can help me
and that all of these things take time;
there is usually it seems not a lot of immediate healing
in the Christian life (though of course miracles still happen
today and even in my life at rare times God has helped me
quickly stop something I was doing wrong,
but over all I find God also wants us to struggle).
This ties in, to me at least, to the understanding of Mothering
when one is an adult.
I am  blessed with an intact family, 
and even more, my parents are Christians.
What a huge blessing.
Something I am learning and have learned as an adult is
what it means to 'Mother' oneself.
I've learned it from everything from 
~use skin cream for dry skin in cold winters
~being careful what my eyes see, my ears hear, my mind thinks
~learn to take care of one's needs in terms of food
~build community 
~when to have a quiet day (I know this is easier for me as I am not a Mother of
young children)
Well, all this to say I am grateful for what God has taught me
and that there is so much HOPE in Christ.

1 comment:

willfulmina said...

I love the idea of mothering myself. Will do my best to put that into practice!