Monday, July 13, 2015

Perspective, Choices and What a picture from 1904 taught me

I have been thinking a lot on how to best be
where I am now, on the small and large scale,
as in my personal life and the larger world that I live in.
We all know that there are troubling things daily
in our world.
Here is what I am learning on how to 
not have the worries destroy
our peace and our daily lives.
I know I will be on this journey the rest of my life,
and that it is by no means a final understanding on 
this but that too is part of what I am learning.
We are all living as along as God gives us.
What we have now is the present moment.
The past is gone, the future we do not know.
I have struggled with anxiety on various levels
and it is one of my weaknesses.
Lately I am learning to do little prayers when I feel overwhelmed,
such as this one from the Psalms:
and repeat this verse many times
Doing small prayers,
crossing myself, saying the Jesus Prayer,
these are all helps.
I am learning to tune out a lot of news and worry.
I am learning 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.
I am learning that if I start worrying and keep dwelling on the worry,
I am putting all of my energy there and it will build.
I have this picture in our library/chapel/guestroom that
a dear friend gave us:

It is of Tsar Nicholas, his family and St. Elizabeth as well,,
on Pascha night 1904.
It's so beautiful. 
Above this picture is a handpainted icon of
St. Tsar Nicholas, who is one of the Royal Martyrs
whose feast day is this week.

I learned something looking at this picture recently:
In 1904 they were all celebrating Pascha in their
most beautiful and stately clothes.
They did not know the future,
that soon a war (with Japan) would be going on,
or that they would be martyred in less than 20 years.
We don't know what our future is.
But we can choose to have Pascha today.
We can choose to live in the present, whatever that is.
We can focus on what we don't have or,
if one has kids, what is bugging oneself about that
current situation in life, 
and of course there are many struggles and challenges
but I am learning that I can choose to be happy or unhappy.
For instance, for me I am still working on building community 
and a life.  I am also learning a lot about letting go
and sometimes it is very tiring.
Yet! : I can focus on 
what I still feel I lost leaving Ottawa
or I can look at all I have gained and how
much better it is for me now and how I KNOW that
moving to New Jersey was the BEST thing I could of done
for my new life with Mr. Husband
and apprecaite the new life I have.
I can read scary stuff online, thereby paralyzing myself with
fear and being unable to pray, provide a peaceful haven or function...
or I can go read a happy book, work on being at peace
and pray to God....  
It's not that I am staying ignormant of troubling things.
But it is that I am deciding that today
I can just appreciate the day I have.
That Cleo is next to me as a type, that I have more
provisions than my daily bread, that I can pray to God
for help for myself and the world.
That I can choose to take care of myself, my home
and my husband and seek to create beauty
and a peaceful place for us to live
in a world that is troubled.
And there are things we can do to try
to best survive when we are in a 
difficult place in life.
I really appreciated these words by Joy
about how she is learning to replenish herself
admist many trials in her current life. 
I am learning that I can choose what this day will be.
I can have self-pity, discontentment or anxiety
or I can practice thankfulness, prayer and striving to be at peace....
I can be with God today and with Him and by His mercy,
I can have peace.


GretchenJoanna said...

Wonderful post. We can have Pascha every day. St. Seraphim was known to say "Christ is risen!" as a greeting on any day of the year. We can at least greet ourselves that way, and have joy that He is with us every moment. That is the essence of our life.

Paula said...

I know what you mean. I get tired of Colin always watching the news (morning and evening). It's the same old stories, most of which don't affect our lives and the big ones that do -we usually can't do anything about them. So why watch and keep worrying. I wish he'd just watch the 11 o'clock news, then Ella and I wouldn't have to hear it.

Martha said...

The prayer of the Optina Elders "My Lord grant unto me, that with thy peace, I may greet all this day is to bring..." is especially helpful to me. ♥

Laura said...

Oh, how I needed to read these words today! I often struggle with finding contentment. I am working to avoid comparing my present situation to the lives of others or to where I've been at previous times in my life. I was struck by a passage in the book Wounded by Love where Elder Porphyrios writes: "There is much that we do not know. Say to Christ, 'Whatever You want. Whatever Your love desires.' He will lead you. Look to Him.'" This has become a comforting thought to me.

willfulmina said...

This is perhaps my favorite post you have ever written. I want to dwell on the good instead of getting mired down in everything ugly in this world. Of course it is easier said than done but I intend to strive for it.

Elizabeth @ The Garden Window said...

I tend to limit my consumption of news programmes/reports as much as possible; with few exceptions, it serves to depress and down-hearten, rather than strengthen and encourage.

Faithfulness in fulfilling the necessary everyday tasks, prayer, mindfulness of God's presence are my priorities.

Sending love, hugs and blessings to you, dear friend xx

Anonymous said...

This post made me tearful, likely because I completely understood where you are coming from. I do not watch the news anymore and I don't engage in social media except for reading favorite blogs and writing. I have often thought that the monks and nuns pray for the whole world without having to watch the news 24/7 to know what to pray for:) I have struggled with anxiety my entire adult life and it is only since becoming Orthodox that I have found real relief. I still struggle from time to time but it is SO much better. I think the daily prayers are sinking into my spirit and I really believe what I am praying. Love and hugs.

Mimi said...

Beautiful, thank you