O Eternal God, King of all creation who has kept me safe to attain this hour.
Forgive me the sins I've committed this day in thought, word and deed. And cleanse, O Lord, my humble soul from every stain of flesh and spirit.
Grant me to pass this night in peace, to rise from my bed and to praise your holy name all the days of my life.
And to vanquish the enemies, both corporeal and incorporeal, that contend against me.
Deliver me, O God, from the vain thoughts that stain me and from evil desires.
For Thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit
Now and ever and unto ages of ages,
(an Orthodox evening prayer)
I'm putting my "the Way I See It" post up a day early because tomorrow morning, I'll be heading to the Women in Healing Ministries Conference at Holy Dormition Monastery in Rives Junction, Mi. I'm so looking forward to soaking in the services and lectures.
I found this theme to be challenging, what with the lack of sunlight available and all. It was a good challenging, though. I spent more time with my tripod than usual, that's for sure. Do you have any evening photos to share? If so, please link to your blog in the comment section below.
Next week's The Way I See It theme will be: Peace
Have a beautiful weekend!
by Gwendolyn Brooks
And if sun comes
How shall we greet him?
Shall we not dread him,
Shall we not fear him
After so lengthy a
Session with shade?
Though we have wept for him,
Though we have prayed
All through the night-years—
What if we wake one shimmering morning to
Hear the fierce hammering
Of his firm knuckles
Hard on the door?
Shall we not shudder?—
Shall we not flee
Into the shelter, the dear thick shelter
Of the familiar
Sweet is it, sweet is it
To sleep in the coolness
Of snug unawareness.
The dark hangs heavily
Over the eyes.
I’m reading a riveting story for book club about an Olympic athlete turned army hero during World War II. It’s called Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand. I cannot put it down, nor can I imagine how utterly frightening it must have been to become suddenly immersed in a world war, where a generation of young men and women were drafted into active duty leaving those behind who adored them in a constant state of loss and worry. All the big and little liberties you took for granted would become heart wrenching memories revisited over and over again in the dark of night, in the dark of day. Everywhere you went, every plan you made would be accompanied by burning thoughts of your own, and your loved one’s, mortality. You couldn’t escape death if you tried.
I’ve never been exposed first-hand to the horrors of war, poverty, a fatal illness or persecution, making it irresistibly tempting to postpone or muffle the difficult questions born of not assuming tomorrow is a guarantee. I’m in danger at every moment of becoming sedated by the luxury of freedom, to eat when I want, worship how I want, say what I want, entertain myself however I want, to hold my healthy children in my arms. My current unconstrained lifestyle easily lends itself to a “Christ and…” mentality, meaning Christ defines a part of me, as does motherhood, writing, photography, the Midwest, etc. I am dedicated to all of those aspects of my person, like I am dedicated to good oral hygiene or eating a protein-rich breakfast every morning. What I’m missing you see is a sense of urgency – the kind that culls the eternal from the temporal - a sense of urgency not concerned with reputation.
Everything in this life passes away, wrote Father Seraphim Rose, – only God remains, only He is worth struggling towards. We have a choice: to follow the way of this world, of the society that surrounds us, and thereby find ourselves outside of God; or to choose the way of life, to choose God who calls us and for whom our heart is searching.
For a chronic people pleaser like myself, this greyless suggestion we draw a clear and permanent line in the sand is awfully hard to swallow. Most of us are leery anymore of that which seems too “extreme.” We like ourselves a little bit of wiggle room, to debate, justify our positions and reprioritize as our impulses see fit. I squirm at the idea of aligning myself so completely and unapologetically with Christ, not only because that kind of commitment is very demanding but also because it pretty much guarantees I’ll be lumped in by society with those who’ve done and declared ridiculous things, unloving things, in His name. I like your Christ, said Ghandi, I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ.
I’ve done my share of backpedaling, distancing myself from fundamentalism, and from various church scandals, explaining, “Oh, I don’t believe that either… I’m Orthodox.” Or “That’s not my parish, not my country, not my jurisdiction.” Oh, goodness…how prideful of me to think it’s my duty to protect Christ from the various skeletons in Christianity’s closet (especially considering all of my own shameful hypocrisies) or from Church teachings that fly directly in the face of what society deems as right and good.
Jesus warned us upfront in the book of Matthew we will be despised simply because of His name…no matter how likeable or relevant we make ourselves out to be. That’s part of the deal! Attempting to spin faith in Christ, for your sake, for my sake, for their sake, into something more palatable, less crazy sounding, is an utter waste of time – time I cannot afford to squander. Look, and I know I must sound like a broken record with this but I swear to you I’ll forget if I don’t remind myself like every other second, I’ve got but one single job to do:
Love the Lord my God with all my heart and all my strength, and love my neighbor as myself.
Only by living solely for loving and serving others boldly, as Christ did while on earth, thereby accepting meekly the disdain of this world, as He did, will I attain salvation (from death, vanity, fear, hatred) or ever possibly be a light in the darkness. I’m not the Holy Spirit, it’s so not my responsibility to convince anyone of anything. But I will absolutely, positively be held accountable for forgiving and being merciful to others, expecting nothing in return, as God has forgiven and been so merciful to me. Why is the truth, it would seem, revealed to some and not to others? wrote Father Seraphim Rose. Is there a special organ for receiving revelation from God? Yes, though usually we close it and do not let it open up: God’s revelation is given to something called a loving heart.
There is no making sense of the Kingdom of Heaven, no less invasive shortcut. It requires a big old sacrificial, uncomfortable leap of faith to risk everything for it regardless, discovering a mysterious peace that passes all understanding in the process. How then would I live if I knew my death or some other tragedy were imminent? How would I greet the Son if He came hammering on my door? Not like this, I hope – all scattered, self obsessed and only half paying attention. Lord Jesus Christ, son of the Living God, have mercy upon me a sinner.
Forgive me my snug unawareness.
It's 12:45 pm and I'm still wearing what I slept in. Thus far my Monday has consisted of laundry. Period. Those nasty cobwebs taunting me from the corners, where they 've brazenly gathered to advertise like flashing billboards all I don't have to offer (domestically speaking), must be ignored. And the upstairs bathroom with the mildewing towel smell? Oh good grief, don't even get me started.
No, today is laundry day. Laundry only. I can't trust myself to multi-task. For me multi-tasking too often ends up with yours truly searching for bargains in the overstock section at Landsend.com. How could that possibly happen, you ask?
Anyway, I was shoving t-shirts into the boys' dressers when I looked down and found a bright blue sheet of paper at my feet on which was typed the following:
Live each day with care…
as if it were your last on earth,
and with anticipation…
as if it were the first one of the rest of your life.
I have no idea where the paper with the quote came from, and sure, it's a bit corny – like slap it on a poster and hang it in a conference room corny – but nonetheless it felt to this grumbly mom like a much needed mid-afternoon pep talk:
You've still got hours to go until this September 26th, 2011 passes on, never to return again; make them count. Even laundry (and jammie) only days can be infused with purpose and meaning. Pray for your friends/neighbors/family while folding those leggings. Pray for your enemies. Prepare yourself for the evening rush of dinner/homework/bedtime. Quiet your soul. Implore God now for patience. You're going to need it.
Count your blessings.
And, ahhh, there's the annoying as heck dryer timer! errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
I'm off, my friends, to replenish our clean underwear supply, hopefully a little more mindful now of my, yours, our salvation.
Peace to you.
Autumn and me: a self-portrait
It wasn’t the smoothest of mornings; let’s just say I could actually feel my blood boiling by 7:15 am. I’d cracked, and oozing out from the resulting fissures poured stress and anger.
apples from our Harvest festival
“How about we say our morning prayers,” my daughter suggested on our drive to school, in an effort to cool the rising tension turning me all Dr. Jekyll-ish .
So that was humbling.
Pumpkin spice lattes. Oh good gracious, those are delicious. Featured in this photo: my beautiful sister-in-law, Paige, and delectable niece, Annie.
But bless her heart, she knows exactly what her mama needs to refocus, to start over when I don’t have the energy for starting over because I’m already spent from surrendering to, and flailing around directionless in, frustration.
There’s a cornfield across the street. Yesterday was the first time I ever saw it up close. Yep, it’s full of corn alright.
O Heavenly King, I obediently started aloud, O Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, who art everywhere present and fillest all things. Treasury of blessings and giver of life, come and abide in us and cleanse us from our sins, and save our souls, O Good One.
I laid my tired soul down, just as I was, on the sureness of my compassionate Christ.
Crimson colored leaves never ever get old to me.
Then, after dropping the kids off, opened my driver’s side window, cranked up some soothing Sara Watkins tunes (my fall soundtrack), marveled at the autumn glory settling in like an old friend and breathed in, then out again.
If you have any Autumn photos to share, I’d love to see them! My linky tool is acting up so please just paste a link to your blog in my comment section. Next week’s The Way I See It theme will be: Evening.
Have a blessed weekend, my sweet friends.
Taking Time to Grow
Mary Mapes Dodge
You gotta know when to park your tush on the sofa while the hours hurdle on leaving your grandiose plans for being all productive and such in the dust, that you might bring a little comfort to the hacking, feverish sprite of a daughter sacked out soundly in your arms. And conversely, you gotta pray (because it's not quite as intuitive) to know when to unlock those protective arms, answering "sure" when asked by your oldest two if they might stroll around town together (as in, without their dad and me) to check out the festival going on.
You gotta give thanks for the quiet down times, for the opportunities to become a soothing balm to your wounded babies, as well as for the triumphant grins of new found freedom on the faces of your independence-hungry darlings as they return home from that said festival, now giggling together over sights and sounds I, as their admittedly anxious mama, was not privy to.
I gotta trust with all my heart that, if I seek first after righteousness, the wisdom I so desperately need for unselfishly deciding, and courageously declaring: "yes," "go," "stay," "no," "I don't care what everyone else's parents in this whole neighborhood let their kids do, or have…" shall be given unto me.
This whole mothering gig is really serious stuff. It's by no means easy to buck the system - to continue a cycle in which compassion, resilience, creativity, sacrificial love is prized over wealth, popularity, even comfort -a cycle mercifully gifted me by own parents in the hopes such eternal virtues would trickle down to their grandchildren, great-grandchildren. Wouldn't it be something to raise human beings set on breeding, for generations to come, more, more and more light, mercy and beauty?
I gotta be patient with my children's progress (as Christ is ever patient with mine), and remain connected emotionally to them – which sometimes requires silliness on my part, sometimes silence, sometimes laaaate night heart to hearts. I gotta squelch my expectations ( and put blinders on to others' expectations) and spend a little more time in front of my icon corner learning to let go: "Into Your hands, O Lord, I commend our spirits and our bodies. Bless us, save us, and grant us eternal life."
What saves and makes for good children is the life of the parents in the home. The parents need to devote themselves to the love of God. They need to become saints in their relations to their children through their mildness, patience, and love. They need to make a new start every day, with a fresh outlook, renewed enthusiasm and love for their children.
- Elder PorphyriosRead More