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musings from an old rocking chair, on my front porch.

Monday, April 26, 2004

We've Moved (again)! 







All future blogging will be done at the new site. Come see us!

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Collision Course 

Coming Soon...



...when two blogs collide.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Odds and Ends... 

The other day, it came time to do Mike's homework.

"I want Laura to help me."

"Why," asked Jim.

"Because she's smarter than you," he replied.

A very perceptive little guy, I must say! The homework subject was spelling and Mike was required to find a synonym or antonym for 8 of his 10 spelling words. In order to accomplish this task, I taught Mike how to use a thesaurus. He balked at first, like he always does, but eventually came to like the thesaurus, my thesaurus, given to me by my 8th grade librarian (yes I was/am a nerd), before my family moved from Maine back to Southern Virginia, and as such, it has a degree of sentimental value...and thanks Mrs. Newcomb it did come in handy.

"Can I have this book? It's really cool," Mike asked.

"Well, no Mike, it's mine and it's kind of special. It's also 20 years old. We can get you a new one," I answered.

"Please?"

"No, Mike. Come on...drop it. You can use it when you need it until you get one of your own." I answered.

Mike was undaunted. "Can we trade it back and forth. I get it first. I'll take good care of it. I'll give it back, I promise!"

(Can you believe all this was over a thesaurus? The kid is 8 years old. I am glad he's learning the power of words!)

"No, Mike."

"What about if you die, like in a car crash. Can I have it then?"

I laughed then. I don't remember now how the whole thing ended...but the way that kid's mind works never ceases to amaze me. Such tenaciousness can be a good thing if we somehow manage to turn it's focus in the right direction(s).

We now have baby Basil, baby Oregano and Four O'Clocks pushing through the soil in our little peat pots. Woo-Hoo! I'm still holding my breath. I don't know if this little experiment of starting my plants from seed is truly going to work. The plants are still going to have to grow a bit and survive transplantation before we'll know if it's a success. Hopefully it will work and I will have discovered an incredibly cheap way to pretty up my yard in the spring. All the supplies cost about $10.50...keep in mind we live in a tiny Baltimore row-home with a postage stamp sized yard. Doesn't take much! I will have to buy more potting soil before it's all over and perhaps another planter for the herbs...although my absentee neighbor has one sitting unused in his backyard in good shape. So I'm hoping to bum that from him the next time I see him!

David looks like a little boy in his summer shorts. It's killing me! My "baby" is growing up. He's also beginning those really interesting two-word sentences, "Socks, Mommy," "Shoe, Mommy" and he says, "It's ober 'dere" when I tell him I don't know where his blankie is. There's a lady in my play-group who has a little one she's nursing. Every time I look at them I think, "that was me, last year," and I get a little sad. It is a tough time of life and its ending is certainly a mixture of sorrow and sweetness...like all new beginnings.

Ana is irrepressible as ever. She loves play-group, loves going to the mall( a rere occurrence), loves her tea parties and carrying her little pink purse. What can I say...she's a girl.

Me? I'm beginning to treasure my time at the end of the day, in bed, all alone with her prayer rope. Why? Because it's the only time of day that's truly mine in any sense at all. The kids now get up when I do...so if I want to write I have to put on a movie (as I'm doing now) and I feel like a heel. At the end of the day, I can slow down and it's just me and God...I whisper to him the names of those most important to me...and those who asked me to pray for them...and beg for mercy for myself as I live this life of wife, momma, friend.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Storytelling... 

Just before supper, she walks out to the deck to inspect the plants. Still nothing growing in the pots containing the flower seeds. Something catches her eye as she glances at the mini-greenhouse containing the herbs. "Could it be?" she thinks. There, in the corner of the soil is a tiny speck of green, a seed, unfolding itself heavenward. "Wow!"

She is excited. It seems silly to her to be so excited about a little seed sprouting. But, she is and even more so is astounded that she had somehow played a part in this tiny beginning of life. She can hardly wait to show her daughter and grabs the kids' baby books, the ones with the sonogram pictures of when they were just tiny specks of life. She wants to tell the children how they came to be in the world, just as they are witnessing the beginnings of life in the soil, in the pots, on the deck.

"Come here Ana, I want to show you something."

"What?" the little girl replied.

She lifts Ana up and points to where the tiny stalk is barely visible, pushing out of the dark soil toward warmth and light.

"Do you see that little bit of green?"

"Yes," Ana replies.

"That's our basil we planted the other day. It's growing. It starts out tiny, but just wait, it will be huge and smell wonderful if we take good care of it."

"Oh," the look on Ana's face is incredulous.

"Now look at this," she says pulling the pink book off the deck railing. She finds the first page, where the 6 week sonogram was pasted. "Here is Ana when she was even smaller than that little seedling. God saw that Daddy and Mommy loved each other very much and so he took a little piece of Daddy and a little piece of Mommy and mixed them together in Mommy's tummy. Then, He breathed life into the new piece, and there you were. That was the very beginning of Ana."

"Yeah!" The little girl replied, hungrily turning the pages in the book.

She explains the pictures on the pages, parties for Mommy before Ana was born, ink stamps of her tiny feet. They hold up her little girl feet to the baby girl feet. Ana's big girl feet were twice the size of her baby feet, "Look how much you've grown!"

"Yeah," Ana says again. That seems the little girl's only reaction to the pictures, besides the incredulous look on her face. Ana takes the book inside the house to show her Daddy.

"Look Dad! It's my book," she says excitedly.

The little girl spends a few moments trailing through its leaves, narrating the pictures. Ana is learning to tell her story.

Her mother thinks, "I pray I take good care of her, so her story is one of growing huge and smelling sweetly pungent, always one of unfolding from the darkness and stretching toward warmth and light."

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Digging in the dirt... 

She inspects her ragged fingernails. They were in sad shape before her activities this morning, but now they are morose, dark lines of dirt making trails underneath them. Early this morning, she had felt heat trailing up her legs and creeping down her spine as she sat at the computer, getting a little quiet time before the children woke and her day began in earnest. Unlike most people who are flattened by summer's heat, she is somehow energized by it. She wants to throw open the windows and let the warm spring breezes into the house, but doesn't want to remain inside. Outside is where her heart leads her.

A plan forms in her mind quickly. Seeds, she wants to buy flower seeds for the yard. As much as she'd like to escape the neighborhood she currently lives in, she knows the reality is next to impossible. She thinks, "While we're here, we should make the best of what we have." Buying plants "Pre-grown" and setting them into containers is too expensive, but seeds and dirt she can likely afford. The kids will enjoy the activity as well.

After breakfast and a quick house tidying, she bundles up the children and heads to the home store, to get supplies. She and her daughter decided on Four O'Clocks and Phlox. They also purchase a small starter kit of herbs. She can't wait to get home and get her hands in the dirt. "Where does this obsession with digging in the dirt come from," she wonders.

"I just want to dig in the dirt."

A connection sparks in her memory. Back in grad school she completed her externship at Duke University Medical Center's Neuro-Rehab Unit. Sounds impressive, but not really. All she did to get the externship was ask for it. It was a time of great "in the field" learning. One of her patients was a tiny, middle aged, woman who had a glioblastoma resected from her brain, commonly called a "glio." Glios are vigorous tumors and even when sectioned they often return. This woman's prognosis was "guarded."

When she first started seeing the tiny woman she couldn't speak at all. Little by little, probably more through a natural recovery than through any of the her attempts at "rehabilitation," the woman regained halting speech skills, but was shy and hard to engage in conversation and therapy. Finally she landed on a subject in which the woman wished to engage, "What's the first thing you want to do when you get out of here?"

The woman's eyes lit up, "I just want to dig in the dirt."

She understood. Once upon a time, her own grandmother had loved to dig in the dirt. When in her 70's, her MeMa chopped down a maple tree in her front yard because it wasn't turning a pretty color in the fall. MeMa was now part of the earth she loved so much, and her little lady patient likely was as well. "Some day we all will be," she thinks looking at the lines of dirt under hands.

Her daughter had loved the planting. Her son was just happy to play in the bag of potting soil. She's not sure her little experiment of starting her own seeds is even going to work, it may fail miserably. But something spurs her on to try, to take the earth and a tiny little seed along with some water and a generous sprinkling of hope, in order to create something beautiful from raw material.

Right now, the little peat pots full of earth look dead. Her daughter continually checks to see if anything has happened and says, "the plants are growing!"

She answers, "Yes, they are growing honey. We put the seeds in the dirt, gave them a little water, placed them in the sun and now the rest is up to God."

Glancing again at her nails, she decides not to clean them just yet...not yet. She wants to treasure the memory of the feel of soil in her hands, its scent as it invaded her nostrils, pungent and clean in it's own way. She wants to remember "hope" when all appears dead, knowing that someday even she will some day join the earth, but won't remain lifeless....

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Hot Dog Hurl... 

Portions of this entry are not for the faint of heart. Read at your own risk

Yesterday began quite beautifully. The sun was shining, the air was warm...not a cloud in the sky. Gorgeous weather, an ice cold lemonade and chocolate chess pie day I called it in my mind. We went to the church to help pick up the bay leaves and scrape up the candle wax left behind by the Holy Week and Paschal services. Then it was off to baseball practice for Mike. The younger two and I hung out at the playground beside the ball fields where Mike's practice was. David slid unaided down the two "big" slides. He's not much of an adventurer when it comes to these things so I was glad to see him taking a bit of a risk. His sister Ana, however, has always been a bit of a daredevil and raced down the slides headfirst, wind streaming through her golden curls.

Practice ended and Mikey went home with his Mom to celebrate his birthday with her. The rest of our little family went home to finalize our birthday preparations for Mike that evening and to grab some lunch. All of the baseball buzz put me in a mind for hot dogs. Ana and David enjoy hot dogs as well...in fact they each had 2 1/2 hot dogs, sans buns with potato chips and grapes. The grapes were my attempt at redeeming a mostly unhealthy lunch.

We played outside a bit more, nap time rolled around and Ana came inside to watch a little TV while David slept. Ana's head was soon nodding on the couch as she watched Black Beauty for the 3,000th time. When she awoke, Ana was not happy. I thought it was because she had to go potty and wanted me to carry her upstairs and put her on the toilet. I don't do this for her anymore as she is big enough to do so herself, so much whining and carrying on ensued. Finally, Ana walked up the stairs to do her business...soon after I heard wretching sounds, upon which I raced up the stairs to find Ana sitting on the toilet throwing up.

Now, if only she had managed to actually get the stuff into the toilet, it would've been fine. But as I said, she was sitting on the throne, not prostrated in front of it. There was hot dog hurl everywhere, all over Ana, the floor, sliding down the sides of the toilet, splattered on the bathtub and walls surrounding her. It was pretty incredible. Hot dog hurl is pretty disgusting, even for the likes of me who is not terribly squeamish about such things. I believe hot dog hurl could be used as psychological warfare. Can you imagine, "Please sir, don't make me see it....smell it....not the hot dog hurl. I'll talk, I'll talk."

At any rate, Ana appeared to have contracted a little bug as she couldn't keep anything in her tummy...not even the tried and true warm ginger ale I offered her. She wanted to eat, but couldn't. I regretted the chocolate ice cream I let her taste after we sang "Happy Birthday" and "God Grant You Many Years" to Mike. That made its second appearance right after bath time...after I'd put Ana in her third clean outfit since the first eruption.

Ahh....motherhood. It's not for the faint at heart.

On a side note, Ana has developed an unhealthy fear of bugs. Tiny little ants have her screaming bloody murder. I don't understand this as bugs have never scared me. In fact, I recall playing with them as a kid. I pick up grandaddy long legs spiders and let them crawl all over me. I'm not sure what to do about this. If we're going to be outside in the summer time, we're going to see bugs. Jim hates bugs. I was once preparing for bed when I heard him calling for me...He was cowering in a corner of the bathroom pointing at a spider which was measured maybe 2mm. I picked it up and took it outside where it could kill as many "bad bugs" as it wanted.

Ana gets her fear of bugs from Jim. It's all his fault...just kidding. I do hope Ana gets over her bug fears though!

Friday, April 16, 2004

I'm only posting this... 

because it has a cool picture of Ralph (my inner teenager is swooning) Macchio and Mr. Myagi...

Whatever happened to those guys anyway?

ETA: the picture's not posting. Sorry. It was a cool picture. Im sur u all wantd to no im a master at inglish...rite?!

Master!
You are a MASTER of the English language!


While your English is not exactly perfect,
you are still more grammatically correct than
just about every American. Still, there is
always room for improvement...


How grammatically sound are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Can I get a Woo-Hoo?! 

Yesterday started out in a decidedly typical fashion. Ana was perched on my lap as I perused a few blogs and David finished his breakfast. I felt warm moisture spreading along my lap. Ana had peed on me. Well, not intentionally. She still had on her bedtime diaper which apparently picked that moment to overflow. Ahh...the life of a mom! Moving right along...

Yesterday morning was fun. The kids received some money in the family Easter Egg Hunt. Grandmom was very fair this year and made sure that each child "found" the same amount of money by writing their names on the eggs. They were only allowed to take the eggs with their own name on it. Gotta love grandmom! So off we went to the dollar store with their spoils.

I have tried in raising my daughter, not to turn her into the caricature of a "girly-girl." I've failed. Her purchases at the dollar store included an umbrella (which she took to bed with her last night), a miniature porcelain tea set, a barbie-like doll (this is the dollar store), clothes for the barbie-like doll and a little spangly purse. Ana found the doll all by herself. I tried to sneak past the barbie-like dolls to no avail. "Look Mommy. Dollies. They pretty." And so it begins. I could forbid the doll, I suppose. That seems silly though. Hopefully we'll convince her that these dolls bear an unrealistic and unnatural representation of the female body and Ana will then have other matters to discuss with a therapist some day...

David's purchases were a water gun, a toy drill, colorful plastic animals (including snakes) and a box of matchbox-like cars. He's such a boy. David makes what my husband calls the "universal man noise" when he plays now. Be it an airplane, a car or a tiger in his hands, the soundtrack provided by Dave is always a growl. He's also enjoying throwing balls around. But he's too little to play football. I'm hoping he'll like soccer (my teeth are currently clenched).

And did Mom go shopping...oh yes she did. Our anniversary was also Sunday and Jim's parents provided us with a gift certificate to outback and some spending money besides. I asked Jim if I could take part of the money to buy some gum as I'm trying to take care of a habit that has re-surfaced (I'm sparing you the details this time). His response, "Just consider the money yours." Woo-Hoo! I didn't take all of it though...just half and I didn't spend all of that.

I needed a new pair of Khakis since my others have some sort of mysterious stain on them. Truly, until my kids are grown I should just stick with black and navy! At any rate, I went to Value Village, which is a thrift store five minutes from our house. I found some Khakis, which were just a tad tight when I got them home...but doable, and pair of shorts and a "grown-up" Raincoat as I'm calling it. It's beautiful...looks like something Audrey Hepburn might have worn. Only it looks like no one ever wore it...closet kept so to speak. The pants and shorts also look brand new (The shorts were Liz). I also found four wooden puzzles for the kids and a Hi-Ho Cherry-O game for Ana. How much did I pay....$26 something (I forget the change). I think I like shopping at thrift stores because of the thrill of the hunt.

I think I like being a girl too. Clothes are fun. Make-up is fun. Perhaps Ana gets it more "honest" than I want to admit...

Speaking of Ana...the other night as I was putting her to bed, I placed my hand on her back while singing and praying to her. If ever I moved my hand from her back, she grabbed it and put it back in place. Ana is a physical girl...loves hugs and kisses and jumping and slamming into you. It's how she shows affection. She also likes to be hugged, steadied when she's unsure or hurt.

I thought of the words contained one of the prayers I say..."and steady me with a guiding spirit." Ana is lucky (and I'm not talking myself up here) that she has a physical example of what those words could mean. I wept in that instant for all the children I've worked with and the many more I know exist but I have never seen who are never steadied by a guiding hand attached to a physical person or love of any kind for that matter. How much more difficult is it for them to accept love from a being who seems so intangible? Lord have mercy on those babes...

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Read at your own risk...lol 

There are many things I suppose I could write about today. I read a portion of a blog yesterday that kind of got my panties in a wad (no one who reads here) and then spent quite a bit of time composing an email to this person in my brain...then decided it would be fruitless. I'll just pray for them and move on.

We were chrismated on Holy Saturday. That was nuts! I mean nuts in a good way, but I had no idea what was happening even though we had practiced it. I kind of just followed along. Jim says he felt a change come over him as he was being annointed. I can't say that I did...I just felt at peace and was glad to be official...even though I have felt Orthodox for a long time.

I think the biggest thing right now is the change from Lent into "normal life." We went grocery shopping on Good Friday and I bought meat again, and cheese. It just felt bizarre. We were able to eat meat again after the midnight liturgy on Saturday. At 3:00 AM, there I was downstairs in the fellowship hall of the church with a plate of quiche, ham and sausage and a glass of champagne. I tried not to overdue it...but it still had a negative effect on my digestive system the next day. Let's not wade into those waters...K?

The Paschal Liturgy was beautiful, even though I was exhausted. It was hard to stand up. Jim looked at me and said, "Isn't there a homily? When is the homily?" No homily. One of our fellow parishioners remarked that, "there is no sitting on Pascha." Oh! But the symbolism of sitting in a darkened Nave, save the light of one candle symbolizing Christ...and then having each parishioner receive light for their own candle from the "Christ Candle"...watching the room light up...was really beautiful. And then returning inside after the "rush procession" to a swirling chandelier and joyous singing...well...it's just stirring.

And then there's today. After weeks of Lent and last weeks intensity of church services, I'm supposed to just fall back into life again. But it's hard. Working back into the things I gave up is weird. I visited the discussion boards I frequent and it felt..."weird." Not weird in a bad way, but just like I was wearing a new pair of shoes and needed to get used to the way they hug my feet. Only these aren't new shoes...they're old shoes I haven't worn in a while.

I find myself re-prioritizing again. "How much time am I going to devote to X, Y, Z..." I learned to fill the time I'd spent doing "normal" things during lent with "other" things. I don't want to give up the "other" things, yet I'd still like to have some of the "normal" stuff back. And I do want to start that other blog reviewing children's books. It would be a challenge for me to write that way...and a good one, I think.

Suffice it to say, I'm confused and befuddled and I'll just have to walk this way for a while until I figure it out. That's usually how I figure things out...as I go along. Which un-nerves my husband. It's not always fun for me either, but my best thought out plans never work anyway...such is life.

I'm sure that made no sense to anyone...but thanks for listening...or reading...or whatever!

Monday, April 12, 2004

Beyond Spooky church...V 1.2345 

(Reduced and re-hashed. I may submit this to my church's website as they have a "testimonials" section)

“I do, however, miss that good spooky church feeling. I felt connected with God in that holy spookiness as I entered the sanctuary. Going to church now almost feels the same as going to the mall. There is no stillness upon entering the worship area. Nothing brings to mind angels’ wings or the millions of people who have prepared to worship before me down through the ages. I don’t feel that chill radiating outward from the center of me. I’m sure there is a way to get some of that spookiness back into the rock and roll. There has to be. My soul wants for it. I know I can’t be alone in that wanting.”

More than a year has passed since I wrote those words. They were the conclusion to an essay titled, “I Wish Church was Spooky (the good kind),” detailing my frustration with the “post-modern” church movement. I began a journey in the space between that moment and this one that I never in my wildest musings imagined taking. I left the Western Church and began marching eastward, backwards in time to the very foundation of the Christian Faith, to the Holy Orthodox Church.

My experience with Orthodoxy prior to the beginning of my family’s investigation was limited to attendance at a Greek Orthodox wedding and to the movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I remember sitting in that wedding as a teenager, thinking the symbolism and pageantry contained therein was beautiful and hoping some handsome Greek boy would sweep me off my feet so I could have a wedding just like that one. Needless to say, I knew little about the theology underlying the symbolism, but I dare say I felt something of a deeper nature than I had felt in prior weddings I had attended. Fast forward a decade and a half finds me where I now stand on the threshold of what that something is.

No, my husband, Jim, is not Greek, but we did together decide we needed to go deeper with our experience of the Christian faith than we were at that time, no different than “going to the mall,” as I had said. We began praying and making plans to search for a new church, hopefully geographically closer than our previous one in order to be more involved in church life. Surprisingly, it was I who pointed us in the direction we now find ourselves. I had come across some Orthodox Christians on a post-modern web forum, read their words and started to feel that something again. That something was calling me into a deeper and grounded faith, yet also something more mystical at the same time.

When I first mentioned the idea of Orthodoxy to Jim he was taken aback. He had grown up in a more fundamentalist type of Baptist church and Orthodoxy to him was equivalent to Catholicism sending up all sorts of red fundie-flags for him. I asked him to remain open and read and dialog with the Orthodox on the web forum. I think mostly to humor me, he tried this, and ended up in an email exchange with an Orthodox deacon from New York. Eventually, the deacon sent him the link to a book on Amazon’s website called, Becoming Orthodox: A Journey to the Ancient Christian Faith by Fr. Peter Gilquist. We began reading the book together in the evenings after the kids went to bed. Jim was astounded. I remember him saying “I never knew any of this.” The book essentially revealed to us that the church Christ started existed today, and it was to be found in Holy Orthodoxy. Some of the Orthodox beliefs were high hurdles for us, such as the Marian dogmas and the idea of venerating icons. Time, further study and participation in Church life helped us to come to terms with these beliefs.

After reading the book, we became involved with a parish, Holy Cross Antiochian Orthodox Church, on the recommendation of our friend in New York. We were surprised to find it was a mere seven-minute drive from our house! The priest and all parishioners made us feel at home and welcomed us, but with absolutely no pressure, no “hard sell” that is often felt in protestant denominations. We were encouraged live life as an Orthodox, read, study, pray and listen to God. Slowly, we began to experience a little of what life is like as an Orthodox Christian. We were like children at Christmas, unwrapping brightly covered packages to uncover the hidden treasures contained therein, and they were all treasures…there are no “socks” hidden among the Orthodox present pile.

That’s not to say it was always easy. Accustoming ourselves to the fasts, to “praying Orthodox” was different and difficult at first, but well worth the battle. Having children with us in the Liturgy was a struggle we deal with to this day, but these struggles are becoming familiar and part of us. Our little family is to be Chrismated on Holy Saturday. I was at first unsure if I was “ready” for what seemed like such a huge step, but I also knew I wasn’t going back where I had come from. For I finally knew what that something was that first spoke to me so long ago and it wasn’t a something at all…it was The Existing One, the Holy Trinity, One God in three Persons.

I skimmed the surface of the huge waters of Christianity for a long time. But God called me to go deeper, to plunge in head first to all he has to offer. Yes, I feel like a babe yet, but it is time to take the swimmies off my arms and learn how to dive and uncover all God has to offer me within the deep waters of the Holy Orthodox Church.




Thursday, April 08, 2004

Glorious Day 

Yesterday was absolutely glorious. The first two days of this week were cold and it felt as if winter had returned. I was also fighting some mysterious bug, the only symptom of which was a low grade fever and a slight runny nose. I lived with the fever, since it is one of the body's natural defense systems, drank lots of gatorade and rested. Yesterday, however, dawned bright and warm and very spring-like and whatever that bug was seemed to have banished. I think taking lots of vitamins every day with zinc and vitamin C helps keep the bugs to a minimum as well...

But anyway, yesterday...My neighbor called in the morning and asked if the kids and I wanted to come and play in her backyard, "It's nothing but a big dirt pit," she said, "but I know you don't mind if your kids get dirty." No, I most definitely do not. Dirty kids are happy kids is my motto...using their brains to discover the world. B. (what I'll call my friend since I haven't asked if I can reveal her name here) is somewhat uptight about dirt and germs...etc. So it was an interesting morning!

We ended up putting together one of those "little tykes" play sets in her back yard. If you've never done this before, let me tell you, they are a pain in the butt to put together. We also didn't have any directions as it was a hand-me-down. B. was the brains and I was the brawn in the operation. Using "strike pound hammer" I managed to connect the pieces while B. braced and figured out where they went. Within about 15 minutes the kids were crawling all over it...after B. had wiped it down with a cloth!

B. has three rambunctious boys ages 2, 4 and 5. I am quite sure the play set will help her run off some of their energy. We ate popcorn outside, some of which was spilled on the ground. B. wanted to sweep it up...to which I said, "the birds will eat it, or the kids will!" I think I might be a good influence on her, or she on me. I suppose it depends on how you look at it. We had lunch there and then I went back to our house, grabbed the dog and Ana, David and I took Baby for a walk. It was warm enough that she was panting in about 15 minutes.

The afternoon routine was usual...David napped and Ana fell asleep on the couch during her TV time so I had a few moments to read undisturbed...woo-hoo!

After dinner, the kids played outside in our back yard. The rain had filled a plastic baby buggy with water which Ana put to good use. She dumped the water out into a hole previously dug by Mike when he was "looking for fossils," and then she jumped in it. "Look Mommy, a pud muddle!" I let both kids play in the mud. Am I nuts? Maybe...kids are washable after all!

Jim went to church, I bathed the kids and they watched a little TV and ate some popcorn...it was a good day. Except for the fact that Jim and I continue to remain on the outskirts of a fight. My parents are coming on Friday to see the kids baptized. The tension level always increases just before they come. Hopefully, we'll get this one worked out before they get here. It's going to be a busy, exciting and joyful weekend.

I hope all is well in your neck of the woods...wherever it may be!

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Victoria's Secret 

Yesterday, we received a catalog from Victoria's Secret in the mail. It is the second such catalog we have received in a week. This is likely due to the fact that my husband ordered several shirts for me a few weeks ago. I like those built in bra tank tops by VS for summer...very comfortable.

At any rate, I perused the new catalog with mild interest. Actually, I chuckled to myself a few times at the perfectly pressed, wrinkle free underwear coupled with the severe come hither looks the models tend to strike. By the time my husband were to see me in a VS get up, it would be wrinkled and sagging in places because I had worn it all day long. Whenever I try to strike one of those "come hither" poses I feel ridiculous and start to giggle. I can't help it and I wonder if anyone really does that.

My husband, God bless him, complains that the models are too skinny. "Look at her, that's disgusting!" he'll say. I've never paid much attention to the amount of fat the woman may or may not be carrying. I think I continue to have a warped sense of body image from times past when I was overweight...I think everyone is skinnier than me...

I did decide to take an informal little poll on my own using some information I learned last week. This was just out of general curiosity on my part. I read an article last week detailing all the changes woman go through during pregnancy and most importantly after. I'm not going to post the article because I didn't read the whole thing...it kind of plucked my nerves the wrong way. It was also incredibly looonnng.

So anyway, the fun fact I learned was this...before a woman bears a child, her belly-button has a decidedly vertical appearance and after it is more horizontal. This is how coroners can first tell if an unidentified (dead) woman has given birth...by the shape of her belly button and not by any whizmo-geeko science. Disappointed? So was I.

There were many belly buttons on display in the latest VS catalog so I took a look...no horizontal belly buttons to be found...nope...not a one. This doesn't really mean anything because I would venture to guess there is plastic surgery out there which would take care of such things and one model had a huge navel ornament which could have obscured a horizontal button. But who knows?

I didn't think much of this, really I didn't. It was just idle curiosity, until I landed on a particular page advertising, "Young attitude: Playful, pretty fashions in grown up sizes."

Ewww!

I can deal with the fact that women who haven't had children are more likely to be underwear models...and more power to them. I'm glad they've found success and what I hope is a fulfilling career for them. Really, I mean that. But, ads for underwear that looks like it belongs on a seven year old "in adult sizes" kind of creeps me out. Perhaps there's something wrong with me...

The woman are thin, very thin. My husband describes them as emaciated although I wouldn't go quite that far. Maybe they are. One does need a certain amount of body fat in order to maintain a pregnancy. Somewhere back in the recess of my brain is a fact I learned in my college anthropology class that men were supposedly attracted to women with curves, knowing they'd be more likely to successfully bear children.

So what happened? Why is "a woman who looks like a 12 year old with big boobs" (that's how my husband put it) now the standard for "desirable"? I've heard of and also heard many men say they don't like overly skinny woman. So...what the heck is going on here? Anyone know?

I'm completely lost (in more ways than one).

Monday, April 05, 2004

Sorry... 

I'm sorry there have been few updates here recently. My only excuse at this point is weariness. Ana had yet another throat infection last week with fevers spiking up around 102 degrees. I asked her doctor if a tonsillectomy (sp?) was in order as she seems to have some sort of adenoid/tonsil infection around every six weeks...he said, "not yet." I had not intended to be silent during Holy Week, but it seems it may sort of happen anyway.

Then there is the time change (cursed thing) which screws up the kids' sleeping schedules and the whole 15 minutes I may have had to myself in the morning to write evaporates. I must say though, for some weird reason, I like getting up in the dark. Saying my morning prayers by the light of a vigil lamp seems more "holy" to me somehow...symbolic of the light which I believe Christ brings into our darkened world. As someone said on the Orthodox Convert listserve I read..."truth is not a body of knowledge. It is a person." That one stopped me in my tracks.

I cried yesterday as we processed around our little Church waving palms, the children with candles and all of us singing, "Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, Have mercy on us." I don't know completely why yet, except perhaps that I felt connected to the Truth of my faith in a real and tangible way. I could feel a connection to the Saints of old...I don't know. I'll just leave it at that.

The world has brought old age into my soul. It has stamped my entire soul and left its seals on her, so that from them she is suffering, agonizing, and --   dying.

Once my soul is born anew in my bones, my bones will also be rejuvenated. And there will be only one seal in my soul -- the seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit. In vain will the world try to stamp its seal on me, to brand me as its own sheep -- it will find no place for its seal. For the one born anew will be filled with Your seal and Your life, O Life-creating Trinity.


Bishop Nikolai, Prayers by the Lake

The entire text of the above prayer can be found here.

The US has cut off all aid to Serbia. Pray, light candles, send good thoughts. Do what you do. And remember our brothers and sisters serving in Iraq and Afghanasitan as well.

Blessings...

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Becoming Orthodox... 

It was Jim's turn to attend The Liturgy of the Pre-sanctified Gifts last night and so after I had put the kids to bed and said my prayers, I curled up on the couch with a tattered copy of Northanger Abbey, I had checked out from the library. In between reading about Miss Morland's trials and triumphs with Mr. Tilney, I reflected on the whole Orthodox thing. That's the way my crazy mind works. I almost have to go somewhere else to think about me.

One aspect of the whole Orthodox journey I thought of were the blogs written by Orthodox I often read. I am amazed by their knowledge of Saints and Orthodox dogmas and etc... And then there is me who will be officially Orthodox as of April 10, but has felt Orthodox for quite a while. But my blog doesn't necessarily reflect this change. I talk about bumps on the head, and teacups and my children...because I like to tell stories and also to have some written record of significant and sometimes not so significant events and epiphanies in my life. I have been heard to say, "the un-examined life isn't worth living." I think that's a true statement, Orthodox, or Buddhist, or Jewish, or Secular Humanist, or PoMo or whatever you choose to call yourself. Maybe I'm wrong...

I'm nervous about relating the truths I find in Orthodoxy as I don't want to get something wrong and misrepresent the faith somehow. I've spoken at times about some personal insights I've gained along the way. However, I don't quote saints very often, or expound on heavy hitting foundational beliefs. Part of this is my lack of knowledge and part of it is my fear in "getting it wrong." I also believe it comes from experience I've had teaching middle school youth groups.

Way back, prior to when I met Jim and was attending a large non-denominational church (the same where my beloved and I met and were later married) I worked with the middle school kids. At one point, I was teaching the middle schoolers just about every other week. I enjoyed this immensely, but it was also a burden. Spiritual attack would rear it's head as I was preparing. Crazy things would happen...brand new tires would explode, house keys would disappear (well, that we could blame on my natural scatter brained-ness), clutches would disintegrate while I was driving...you get the picture. I'm not quite prepared to have that happen here...of course I did set my own hair on fire the other day...

Of course now that I'm Orthodox (well...almost officially), I realize the fullness of the faith is to be found within Her walls, but I also still feel as if there was some truth to be found in my upbringing in the main-line protestant church. It was Grandmother who taught me the Lord's Prayer, which I now say 4 times a day. Mema gave me an example of humility I've yet to see matched in any other living human as well as giving me an appreciation of nature and how we are called to care for it. Summertime found her leaving pans of water out for birds and squirrels so they wouldn't die in the hot Alabama sun. The funny thing is she was constantly warring with the squirrels to keep them out of her bird feeders. Crying now...leaving memory lane.

I don't discredit those lessons learned from those women just because they weren't baptized into the "true faith." Is that bad? I don't think so.

And then there is my love of popular culture. You know the girl who always had a copy of People and Rolling Stone tucked into her back-pack in high school...the one who could relate all the facts of Bob Geldolf's recording of Do They Know It's Christmas. Well, I was that girl. I will admit that I have watched, The Osbournes and enjoyed it. I like movies, particularly old ones since Mema and I used to watch them and I can now check them out from the library. And I often getsomething deeper from this stuff. U2 and Peter Gabriel lyrics have led me at times to deeply explore facets of my spirituality long ignored and in need of watering. The explorations have certainly taken on a different turn since becoming Orthodox (well...almost officially). But, I suppose it's easy to look at someone like me and think..."how superficial." Those who know my inside know that's not true...

Ok...going to attempt to cut to the chase here and end the rambling. I'm truly thinking with the keyboard...aren't I! All of this and other thoughts ran through my mind last night. Somewhere in the midst of it, a thought sprung up. "You aren't reallyOrthodox and you never will be." So, just where did that come from? I had a pretty good idea just where it came from. I entertained the thought for about three seconds and then completely discredited it.

I live (and love) "The Way" and try to live within it's precepts...although I'm sure I fail. I pray and fast and try to read some of the Church Fathers (mostly from The Psalter and the Holy Fathers and The Bible and the Holy Fathers), I've read up on Saint's lives here and there and consumed a few Orthodox-themed tomes; however, I am by no means an expert. One of my Lenten goals was to read, Brothers Karamozov. I learn more from stories than I do from didactic tomes...so there you go. And now I view stories through a different lens...and gain different truths from them.

It boils down to this, how one approaches the sliding board. When I stand at the top, I think about the ride...what it will be like to feel the wind in my hair and if my eyes will sting from the onslaught of cold air in my eyes. Others focus on the bottom of the slide. I don't think either approach is wrong...just different and if we keep our eyes open we have much to learn from each other. The more I live the life...the more Orthodox I feel...officially or not! I'm sure there is a place in The Church Christ founded for a breeze-lover such as myself...

Lord, have mercy on this breeze-loving sinner!

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

things that go bump on the head... 

The day before this one, she had set three things on fire, starting with her own hair and ending with the toast that was to accompany dinner that evening. Only a miniscule amount of damage occurred, not even discernible in her unruly mop. Yet the entire day found her carrying the smell of burnt hair with her. Perhaps it was to remind her of something, perhaps "slow down, be careful, etc, etc." She had washed her hair that evening, and the burnt smell swirled down the drains with the suds.

This day found her with many bumps on the head. In straightening the books her son's room she had shaken the shelves dislodging a lamp on the top one which landed squarely on her head.

"Ouch!"

"You OK mom," her daughter asked.

"Yes, a lamp just dropped on my head."

"A lamp dropped on your head?"

"Yeah, but I'm OK." She then continued her frantic straightening. There was much to do and never enough time, or so it seemed. She needed to go to the library and return an overdue book, and the laundry needed folding, lunch and dinner to be prepared, the bathroom floor needed scrubbing and so did the floor under the kids chairs in the dining room, library books to be read, confession to be made at church that afternoon, flash cards to be run through with the kids and on and on and on...

A few moments later she went into the bathroom to clear the floor and prepare it for it's weekly scrub. A little sock lay in the way, so she crouched down and hurriedly attempted to throw it into the pile of dirty clothes which lay in the bathroom closet. She didn't even realize what had happened until after she felt the pain in the right temple. Her head had squarely met the corner of the pedestal sink in the bathroom. Rather than ignoring and moving on, she was immediately overcome with sobbing.

"Mom, what are you laughing at," her daughter asked.

"I'm not laughing honey, I'm crying," she managed to croak out. Strangely, she noticed her accent seemed thickly southern...she hadn't the wherewithal to code shift in that moment.

Her daughter wandered into the bathroom and stood, watching her long bout of sobbing. In the background, she could hear her husband talking on the phone while working in the basement and her son playing in his room. Her daughter remained with her throughout the entire sob session. The little girl had never seen her mother cry and she offered no explanation above "Mommy got a boo boo and felt really sad for a few moments," not wanting to burden the little girl with more than her almost three year old mind could comprehend. Indeed, she herself wasn't sure why she had such a reaction to a bump on the head.

Once she calmed down, she stood to rinse her face. Before bending over the sink, she glanced at herself in the mirror. Her eyes appeared portals of sadness awash in God given brine. "Wow," she thought. "How could I not have known."

She left the bathroom, slowly; walked down the stairs, slowly...The floor wasn't scrubbed, the laundry wasn't folded. The trip to the library was accomplished and afterwards she sat on the couch reading her children old tales of Excalibur and Rumplestiltskin and other more modern tales of journeying roosters and mice looking for friends. She made her confession and then large pot of lentil soup for dinner. Every now and then she would reach up and feel the knot on her temple. This was a reminder she couldn't just wash away.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

worn out 

You know how you wish you had something to say...when it might even be hovering somewhere on the edge of your consciousness waiting to come out. That's sort of how I'm feeling now. I feel there's something I should say, but I just don't know what it is.

The truth is, life is very overwhelming right now. Lent has worn me out, the fasting, the taking a good hard look at myself and my shortcomings (that's putting it mildly) and devoting myself to increased spiritual discipline is a new experience. And then there is the fact that we're being chrismated, the kids are being baptized, my family is coming up the house is in it's usual state of disarray. It feels like this great big snow ball is perched on a precipice right over my head and the slightest wind will send it tumbling on top of me. A little snow can be a happy thing...you can build a snowman. But a lot of snow can be a dangerous thing if it hits you unaware. I'm not unaware...unprepared perhaps....

Oh yeah...and my 6th wedding anniversary will be on Pascha, followed by Michael's 8th birthday and then comes Ana's 3d in May.

And I'll be 33 three this year. Sheesh...where does the time go?

I'm also considering starting an additional blog in which I will write reviews of children's books. Why? Well, I read a lot of them. I've heard other mothers say that they walk into the library and feel overwhelmed with so many book choices. I'm fairly fearless when it comes to such things, so why not write about the ones we read which are "stand outs" and perhaps make life easier for others. Additionally, I like children's books...I like to read and I like to write...why not combine the two...eh? My background as a speech-language pathologist will also help as I can talk about what language skills a particular book may encourage. It won't replace this blog...it will just be another little side project and will help me feel as if I'm contributing something positive to society, even if it's in a very small way. There will be comments and perhaps others can add their own suggestions for books.

I'm also working on a shorter testimony of my journey into Orthodoxy. I'll probably hold onto it until after our chrismation in case I decide to add a little to it.

And I go to confession for the first time today.

And I think that's enough rambling for now. I suppose I had a little something to say, even if it was mostly of no consequence!

Saturday, March 27, 2004

A must read... 

I found this article linked on Amy Welborn's Blog. It is absolutely a must read, in my opinion, despite it's length. It's from The New York Times online and you will have to "subscribe" (it's free) but it is very much worth it.

Coach Fitz's Management Theory

In other exciting news...Ana's current favorite movie is Black Beauty. We watched it together last night while Daddy attended the Akathist service at church. I had to explain some of the action and dialogue to her, but for the most part, Ana seemed to understand the premise of the movie. All day long she pestered me to watch it. I think her girlie love affair with horses is starting a bit early. I suppose National Velvet will be next.

It surprises me that she likes these movies that are not intended for 3 year olds. Two of Ana's other recent favorites are A Little Princess (not a good adaptation in my opinion) and The Secret Garden. There is a lot of heavy dialogue in these movies and no music. Ana also sits and happily listens to books that I would consider abover her "level" as well. It frightens me that she may be smarter than I...any of my more intelligent (than I) friends interested in tutoring her when I can no longer answer her questions.

One more thing...the kids continue to be a study in opposites. Yesterday, Ana, David and I visited a park near Annapolis with some friends from church. The park is adjacent to the Chesapeake Bay and even has a tiny beach perfect for wading. I allowed both children to take off shoes and socks in order to test the water with their toes. As soon as his feet touched the water, David screamed, miserable. I put his shoes back on and he contented himself playing in the sand, his windbreaker zipped to his little chin. Ana was completely naked in about 5 minutes. I could never imagine two children with exactly the same parents having such completely different personalities. But there you go...one of life's truly, amazingly, gorgeous inconsistencies!

(I know there is something horribly off with the grammar in that last sentence...but I'm too tired to figure it out!)

Friday, March 26, 2004

Swinging... 

(author's note: I wanted to work a little more on this one to ensure it made sense. My normal writing time is in the morning before Ana and David wake up. Unfortunately, they've been waking at about the same time as I. I tried to smooth this out as much as possible while pouring cheerios and milk, retrieving balloons from the ceiling, ad infintum. I apologize if it makes little sense and the metaphor isn't fully developed. However, I was also afraid that if I held onto it much longer, the story would grow cold for me and it would never be posted. So here it is, such as it is...)


She has spent the day just like any other, with her kids. The weather had turned warm and so she and the children had spent part of the day taking a long walk. Following the children's nap time, she had completed her workout. The combination of the walk and the workout had left her feeling as if a shower were in order before attending that evening's Divine Liturgy. She asked her husband if he minded if she grabbed a shower while he watched the kids.

"No. Of course not," was his reply.

She climbed the stairs, looking forward to time spent alone in the shower. For as far back as her memory reached, she had enjoyed water, and once she was old enough, long, hot solitary showers. She turned the water on and up to the steaming temperature she enjoyed...and was soon joined by her daughter who also wanted to take a shower. All attempts at dissuading her were in vain and the fight to have a solo shower would've taken the same amount of time for the shower itself, so she simply acquiesced and taught Ana how to wash her hair instead. She also knew she would be spending some quality time without kids attached, and so the sacrifice didn't seem so great.

Recently, she had learned that she would be chrismated on Holy Saturday, a mere 2 and 1/2 weeks away. In came as a surprise for she had expected to remain a catechumen for a bit longer. The time her little family had spent in the catechumenate seemed short by comparison the stories she had heard of "at least a year" spent learning about the Orthodox Church. She realized when standing and participating in the Liturgy that evening that she didn't feel quite ready.

She glanced around at the faces of the faithful around her as she and they reciting and chanting the prayers, and felt like a babe. Even though she had been attending Divine Liturgy since the fall, there were pieces she wasn't so familiar with as yet since her children often called her out of the service for potty breaks and diaper changes. Using the sign of the Cross still felt awkward and at times she was sure she was "getting it all wrong." Why did thoughts enter her head when prostrating such as, "how am I going to stand up without falling over after all the blood has rushed to my head, and feeling slightly woozy from fasting all day?" Do others have the same un-holy seeming thoughts as she did? It all seemed to be happening so suddenly and without much preparation. As she had said to her husband earlier in the evening, "I was a good girl scout...always prepared."

Since she was alone, she was actually able to participate in the entire Liturgy. She remained unsure of it all as it was probably the first Liturgy she had fully participated in. She also knew she wasn't going back where she had come from. Likely what she was feeling was the avoidance of great fear of swimming in un-chartered waters leading to a sense of ambivalence.

After the feast following the Liturgy, she went home, stole a little time for conversation with her husband and then went to bed...to be woken at the crack of dawn by her daughter. "Mom...the sun is up!"

"That doesn't mean you have to get up Ana."

"I wanna lay down on the couch."

Again, the argument just wasn't worth it. She had work to do. Their were the Prayers to be said, the Psalms to read...it was a day to be spent like any other, with the kids and stealing time for herself and for God. This particular day started gloomily, rainy and dark. She was surprised Ana had awoken to the dim light filtering through the clouds that morning. Fortuitously, the library was the planned outing for the day.

The morning breakfast and dressing routine completed, she hustled the kids to the car. By this time, the weather was clearing and different thoughts were forming in her mind as to where to go and what to do. The library was still on the agenda, but the clearing skies and gentling weather had her thinking of other ideas. They needed to stop at the store as well to replenish the ever dwindling supply of juice and she had wanted to try "Big Lots" to see if they carried good juice at a more decent price than the regular store.

She made her plans while driving. "store first, then library, then I'll see if I can find the entrance to the 'B & A trail' so we can take a walk...the playground would be muddy. Some girl scout I am," she laughed to herself! "Nothing like sticking to the expected plan..."

The weather had warmed considerably by the time the arrived at the walking trail. "I'm going to take the stroller along so when we cross big roads you can get in and be safe." This wouldn't be a power walk for her since both children were strolling and her son, at 19 months, made particularly slow progress. Every blade of grass was different to David, and he wanted to see them all!

They ambled along basking in the sun and gentle breezes. "This is nice, isn't it Ana and David?"

"Yeah," David replied, but then David almost always answered yes.

"Swings!" Ana yelled.

"I don't know if we're allowed to use these. Are they attached to a school playground." She glanced around the property where the swings stood and didn't see a school. "Well, we'll try it and if someone kicks us out we'll apologize and leave."

David went in the "baby swing," and Ana in the "big girl" swing. Soon however, Ana wanted to switch back to the baby swing to "swing higher." The seeming rigid confines of the "baby swing" actually allowed Ana more freedom. It was a safer place to let loose, and Ana knew it. She acquiesced and placed Ana in the baby swing.

"I wanna swing weal hi-yah, Mommy!"

Her thoughts went back to Church, and how she had thus far spent this day. The plans for the day had changed, rapidly and without much preparation, but for the better. She wasn't as much of a girl scout as she thought. Her life was lived by the seat of her pants quite often, she liked it that way. She was fond of saying her wandering soul was due to an errant gypsy gene and never wanted to be accused of her life happening while she was making other plans. "Planning and living aren't always symbiotic," she thought. Further, as much as she liked "freedom," she had somehow found herself flying safely unfettered within the protecting arms of the church.

"I'm in the right place. Where I'm supposed to be in all of my life's many rooms," she thought.

"Mooommy. I wanna swing weal hi-yah!" Her daughter's request interrupted her musings.

She thought, "So do I!"

"Ok, Ana. One...two...three...woo-hooo!"

Thursday, March 25, 2004

This does sound a little like me... 

Don't you just love peanuts? But I'm not neurotic...I'm not, not, NOT!



Schroeder
You are Schroeder!


Which Peanuts Character are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

How about a "happy post?" 

First we will be chrismated on April 10th. I'm excited and a bit overwhelmed...I didn't expect it to happen so quickly.

Second...I am going to be an Aunt in August to a baby girl (as yet un-named)! The kids are going to have a cousin and I get be Auntie Mame! I think I should order the DVD just so I can have my act together when she arrives.

My Own Prison 

This is my first "Orthodox Lent." I've been through Lent before, but not quite like this, never so deliberate as it is now. It was always an afterthought, that period of time before Easter. Orthodoxy takes this season seriously. During the first week of Lent, I attended a portion of the "Canon of St. Andrew." Another parishioner asked after the service if I was starting to realize my own sin. "Well, yeah," I answered and in my head completed the thought, "kind of."

Of course, I've considered the whole, "sin thing" before as a protestant. You ask forgiveness and then keep going. The repentance side of asking forgiveness is not particularly something I'd delved deeply into. Of course, I had felt sorry for my sin for a few moments, but then I just kept going. I really didn't know what else to do.

So here I am, more than half way through my first Orthodox Lent and how am I feeling? Well, two weeks ago, I felt like crap, no, probably lower than crap. I woke up every morning crying. Why? I had come face to face with my own pride and selfish nature. You see, I like to be thought of as "good." I have spent my whole life trying to be the "good" one...the girl, the mother, the wife, the worker, the writer, the friend...

No, it's not bad to seek after being a good anything, unless you set out seeking praise. I'm sure some of my motivation was altruistic, but certainly some of it was prideful as well. I saw this like I've never seen before several weeks ago and it stopped me in my tracks. It was almost hard to function and I didn't even know at first just what it was. It's taken this long, a kidney stone and a bout of strep throat on my daughter's part to slow me down and think about it. Funny, the road-blocks God uses.

And then there's the whole, "seeking after the world," stuff. My daughter's favorite movie is Cinderella. There's a dog named "Bruno" in the movie who is ever seeking chase with the cat, "Lucifer." Cinderella chastises him, "that's bad Bruno, bad," even when he's only dreaming. I'm a lot like Bruno, seeking after what seems natural, especially by the world's standards, but when seen in God's light it withers and melts into nothingness.

Last night, after my daughter lay in bed and coughed for an hour, my husband and I decided we should buy a humidifier to see if would help her breathe better and sleep. I volunteered to make the nighttime run to local super-center, even though I was dead dog tired just to have a few moments to myself. Since Lent has begun, we've mostly listened to "church" music, predominately the one CD of Byzantine chant we own (Gates of Repentance). I decided to flip on the radio just for fun.

Yeah, I know, "fun" isn't supposed to be allowed in Lent. There goes that errant gypsy gene again...the same one that has me waking up at night wanting to tell my husband we need to go for a drive. If you know Jim, you could guess his reaction, "What...drive...where...why?" To which my answer would be, "anywhere and why not?"

It wasn't all for naught as, by luck, I landed on a station playing Creed, "old school Creed." The song was My Own Prison, which you can listen to here if you'd like. I'm going to share part of the lyric because it sounded pretty familiar to me. The song opens this way:
A court is in session, a verdict is in
No appeal on the docket today
Just my own sin
The walls are cold and pale
The cage made of steel

Sound familiar. It did to me...
Conclusion:
So I held my head up high
Hiding hate that burns inside
Which only fuels their selfish pride
We're all held captive
Out from the sun
A sun that shines on only some
We the meek are all in one
I cry out to God
Seeking only His decision
Gabriel stands and confirms
I've created my own prison

I would say that I have most definitely created my own prison with sin. The sad part is that at times, I wanted to be there. It was safe, what I knew. It kept people at a safe distance. I'm ashamed to say, I'd never wept over my sin and what I had created with it in my life. Never. But I have now, and somehow, a few layers of those cold steel walls are melting. I'm not saying I'm "free" yet, nor do I know if I'll ever be, I hope so though. A window has been opened and light is coming in...melting away the dross. Melting hurts.

Today I read this in the The Psalter and the Holy Fathers. It's from the commentary on Psalm 141.
Bring my soul of of prison: that I may praise Thy Name.
More than all men have I willfully sinned, and so I am forsaken ad left helpless. As the adversary of my soul, I have the carnal thoughts that darken me. O light of those in darkness, guide of all that go astray, before I perish utterly, save me, O Lord.

It's safe to say that God is the master of the segue-way, no?

Good old Bishop Nikolai provided me with a prayer...

O triune God, You have a heart that is devoid of darkness and free of the world. Clear out from my heart the uninvited strangers, who have sullied my heart with darkness. Let my heart be radiant; let darkness hover around my heart, but let it never occupy it.

Let my heart be the heart of a son and a Lord and not the heart of a hireling and a thief.

Grant me the heart of Jesus, around which darkness waited in vain to enter, but never could.

O Queen of heavenly beauty, embrace my heart with motherly caring.

O Holy and Almighty Spirit, make my heart fruitful with heavenly love--so that everything that is born and grows within it may not be of flesh and blood but of Thee, my Holy Spirit and Lord.


The prayer can be read in it's entirety here

Lord have mercy on me...a sinner....

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Friends... 

Friends come in all shapes and sizes and we find them in many places, work, school, church, neighborhoods and sometimes they come in a little box called a computer. Thanks to the internet, we make friends in places where we may never have found them. My husband and I have a friend we met via the internet and the blogging phenemonon we never would have through the more common physical means.

She's the kind of friend who I think were I in a real jam I could call her and she'd be on the next plane were it within her power. Honestly, I think that. At Christmas time, she sent us a gift card to buy gifts for our children when we were short on cash. Yesterday I received a "Lenten Care Package" as it were from her. I've spoken about how hard it has been for me to begin learning to "cook vegan," and she took the opportunity to care for us, lavishly, for this was no ordinary care package.

It arrived from FedEx yesterday afternoon, just before I was to take Ana to the doctor (she has strep throat...I hate to ask for prayers again...but...) in a large and very heavy box. The first thing my hands landed on was a cookbook, The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen by Donna Klein. The introduction actually mentions the Orthdox Lenten Fast. I've looked over some of the recipes and they all look delicious and easy to prepare. But there was more, including: Buckwheat Pancake Mix, Blue Corn Organic Pancake Mix, Dried Red Lentils, Large Lentils, Chick Peas, Kidney Beans and Pinto Beans; one package of TVP (which I have recently begun experimenting with), Organic 10 Grain Hot Cereal, Organic Brown Rice, Organic Whole
Wheat Pasta, Powdered Soy Milk, Mild Curry Paste, Extra Virgin Greek Olive Oil, Better than Bouillion Veggie Base, Spring Cherry Beginner's Mind Green Tea, 2 boxes of Felafel and Hummus mix from Manischewitz, 2 boxes of "Nature Burger Mix, 1 box of Spanish Rice and Tuscany Mushroom Risotto Rice mix by Fantastic Foods, 4 packages of Tofu (2 lite and 2 regular), 1 Bavarian Dark Chocolate Bar and Hand Picked Spanish Saffron which I think is worth is weight in Gold Dust.

Quite a Care Package, I must say. Especially the Saffron, which I know isn't cheap. My kitchen looks like it's had a visit from the "Whole Foods Fairy." That's just the kind of friend this woman is...she cares extravagantly and I appreciate her so much. She is in the midst of her own struggle , re-learning to eat, with the "South Beach Diet." Thank you Serratia...some day I hope I can return the favor. Actually, I really hope we can meet in person so I can give you the hug I'd like to! Until then, I leave you with a lyric from Toy Story:
You've got a friend in me

You've got a friend in me

When the road looks rough ahead,

And you're miles and miles from your nice warm bed

You just remember what your old pal said,

Boy, you've got a friend in me

Yeah, you've got a friend in me


Thank you so much!

Saturday, March 20, 2004

Serbia... 

I've always been a soft hearted soul...always. It's what made me able to go up to the old people in the nursing homes and sit on their laps on school trips there while the other children shied away. I also used to be an incredibly patriotic person, and I still am to an extent. I'm glad I live in a free country...but somehow in the process of converting to Orthodoxy my personal nationalistic borders seem to be fading. Pain is pain no matter where it originates. The souls of many all over the world are crying out now.

Please pray, send good thoughts, or whatever to the people in Serbia

This is really making me feel down hearted this morning.

Look at this... 

Just a couple of goofy kids

The picture is clickable if you wish to see the original.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

well spent breath... 

Happy Day after St. Patrick's. In all the craziness of the first part of the week, I actually forgot that it was St. Patrick's day. A quick update on Jim...he went to see the urologist yesterday morning. The doctor believes he passed the stone, and Jim does seem to be feeling better. His kidney is still swollen and causing some residual pain. Besides that, and being completely exhausted, Jim's feeling better. Thank you for your prayers and kind thoughts. They are very much appreciated.

This particular entry started out the good old fashioned way. I took pen to paper. It was the only way it was happening this morning as both the kids woke up early. It's nearly impossible to sit at the computer and write when the mood hits if the kids are awake as one of them is always trying to push the buttons! Somehow, though, the pen and paper thing works. I can sit with them while they play and scratch thoughts down in between helping them out. It was actually really nice to sit with my notebook and pen. I didn't realize I'd missed them until I picked them up again.

Last night, I was able to meet Lola. I took my tired self to Liturgy, mostly because I wanted to see her. She is even sweeter than I expected her to be. That makes three people I've "met" in person after we've been "introduced" online. I wonder who will be next?!

Anyway, Lola asked me if I had signed a book deal. Of course, I haven't. I've become pretty realistic about the whole "writing" thing of late. The truth is, even if I had signed a book deal, I wouldn't have time to write the book! The kids, being so young, take up a huge chunk of my time.

Time, time...I've written so much about time. Existentially, it just doesn't exist. Breathe in, breathe out and that instant is gone. You can only hope they were breaths well spent, because you can't capture them. They're gone. We humans try to quantify "time." It's only an idea though. I don't think time is "real."

Just now, as I was cleaning up the breakfast dishes, I had to stop what I was doing and clean up the coffee David spilled. Luckily, it was cold coffee. Moms with young children never drink warm coffee. "My time," is like cold coffee. I'm learning to like, even love cold coffee, especially if it's quiet when I get around to drinking it.

So, back to the writing issue. This just isn't the right place in my life to concentrate on "professional writing." I wanted to have something published in a magazine, or other periodical first, just to "see" if I could even get anywhere with professional writing. I even went to the library to "research my market." Of course, I had the kids. Of course, it was disastrous.

If Jim weren't working two jobs, he could watch the kids while I researched. My breath is now spent mostly on taking care of my family. This is right. This is how it should be. This is good. I've always wanted to be a wife, a mom. Here I am. When dream meets reality, there is often a crash. You can choose to do the work to recover after the crash, or you can lay down and sleep. For a while, especially after Ana was born, I slept. But believe me, I'm wide awake now. I'm doing the work.

All that to say, the professional writing of any sort idea is on hold. I'm still relatively young. There should be space later for that dream, later when so much breath isn't spent sustaining the breath of others.

There you go.

In the meantime, I have the porch to practice writing, to explore the many different ways one can put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard. I really enjoy the whole "blog thing." It's fun. I once remarked on someone else's blog that these things are like the old fashioned Round Robin Letters women used to send to keep in touch with each other. It's just the coolest thing to me.

Further, I like the people I've "met" this way. I care about the people who come to the porch so much that I worry if I don't see them around the internet for a couple of weeks. I enjoy sharing my life with you, encouraging and being encouraged. I honestly don't feel I'm missing out on anything by putting more formal writing on hold. I think this is what's important right now. It is certainly well spent breath...

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

E.R. re-visited 

Well, you know how much I just love the E.R. Lucky me was able to spend quite a bit of time there this past Monday and Tuesday. Jim woke up on Monday morning in pain, from a kidney stone. This is his third experience with them so he knew what it was from how the pain felt. An ambulance took Jim to the E.R. Monday morning while I found a place for the kids to stay so I could be with him. Many thanks to my neighbor for being there to help us in a pinch. A CAT scan was performed showing a stone on it's way out and two more lodged in his kidney.

Jim came home Monday afternoon and was unable to keep anything down, including pain medication so off we went to the E.R. again. Jim's mom took the kids for the night while his Dad and I held vigil in the E.R. Dad gave me leave to go home and try to rest (HA), while Jim finished up his second round of treatment. They arrived back here around 5:00 AM. I made the appointment with the urologist and found out he wanted an X-ray to go along with the CAT scam taken in the hospital. I picked up the kids, again, and took them to my neighbors house, again, so that we could get the X-ray and pick up the CAT scan films.

On the way back from the X-ray, I said to Jim, "I just want everyone under the same roof at the same time for a little while." It's been a rough couple of days. We don't think Jim has passed the stone yet. Please pray for us as we weather this latest storm.

To add insult to injury, as Jim was reviewing our checking account last night, he discovered that someone had gotten ahold of our credit card info and was using it to buy web space and long distance calling plans. We would appreciate prayer for this as well...just what we needed!

You might as well pray for the individual who landed here looking for information on "how to kill someone and conceal it." Don't know when I mentioned that, but must have at some point.

I am eternally thankful for the over-worked yet always smiling and helpful E.R. nurses. Those folks are worth their weight in gold. The E.R. remains a place to observe humanity in all it's debasement and triumph. I must say though, I hope it's a while before I have to go back!

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Sudsy Teacups 

She fills the sink with hot soapy water in preparation for washing the day's dishes. This isn't an every day task as the dishes are usually stacked in the dishwasher and this pseudo-maid does the scrubbing for her. But, she had underestimated the amount of detergent needed for her mechanical maid before the next pay-day, and thus found herself standing at the sink doing the job by hand.

A tea-cup and saucer are the first things her hands land on to wash. It is an oversized set, one she had painted herself at a "paint-your-own" pottery shop. The background is a sort of spring green with large yellow, pink, orange and purple flowers overlapping each other. She had been very proud of the finished product and as such, it is her favorite teacup. Gone missing for a long while, it had been recently found in a box containing her leftover office junk from her working days.

As the saucer is turned over, she spies the date when it had been painted, "1/97." This was months before her husband had come into her life in a '93 Mazda Protege, wielding cigars. The idea of her own little family was yet a dream, and an intangible one. At that time, she had set her sights on becoming an author of children's books. Her husband's first phone call to her had been one to give her the name of a publishing house, or some such, her memory is fuzzy on the particulars. She sighs and smiles, tracing her name and dater.

Next, she washes a teacup and saucer given her by her brother-in-law on her 3rd wedding anniversary. It is mostly white, with a pattern of pink, blue and purple flowers as a border and rimmed in gold. She and her daughter had "taken tea," her daughter using this cup. The delicate pattern more closely approaches "fine" china than the hand painted cup. Her daughter's hands can barely reach around its circumference, and more tea ends up in the little girl's lap than in her belly. Still, tea time is a treasured mother and daughter activity. She thinks of the time and circumstances surrounding when each cup had come into her life. When the fine china cups had arrived she had been big with child, her daughter.

She finishes up the washing and walks through the back door and sits on the porch to watch her children play. Her daughter's hair is wild in the approaching wind, a mind of it's own, just like hers. Her son is happily filling up a small bucket with water from the overflowing sandbox and dumping on the ground. He squeals with delight as the family dog attempts to drink the water as it falls to the ground. The children seem to grow an inch overnight at times and she wonders just how long each one will come running to her with arms open wide. "Will they some day scorn me," she ponders. She is aware of a growing need to find something else to occupy her, for they won't always need her as they do now.

She thinks back to the teacups. Her Daddy worked in a china plant and told her that fine china is translucent. If held up to the light, one should be able to see the shadow of their hand as it passes by on the other side. Well, she knows her hand painted cup an saucer aren't "fine," as they are clunky and thick as well as brightly painted. She wonders, though, about the more delicate and refined set she had been given for her anniversary. Could she hold the hand painted cup, behind the other saucer and still see it's shadow? She leaves the porch and walks inside the house for a moment, picks up the "fine china" and holds it up to the light while passing her hand behind it and sees nothing.

She laughs...and then an idea comes to her. She takes the "fine" china saucer and places it on top of the hand painted one. And then places the hand painted cup on top of the fine china saucer. Finally, she takes the "fine" china cup and places it inside the hand painted one. The "fine" china cup fits perfectly inside the hand painted one, except for the handle which sticks out, ready for retrieval. She smiles...

(many thanks to onionboy, for the 3d person idea. These entries appeared in my brain this way, but they may not have if I hadn't been reading his "Third Person Singular" journal. It's a fun way to write. I'm not sure I'll keep it up, but I've enjoyed writing this and the "Big Hand" entry this way.)

Friday, March 12, 2004

Peanut butter... 

Peanut butter gets bubble gum out of carpet...in case you were actually wondering. I remembered this morning that my mother had once used it to get gum out of my hair. Somehow, the oil from the peanut butter loosens the gum and you can then pull it out. I followed the peanut butter with liberal amounts of water and dish soap, since most dish soaps are formulated to dissolve grease...

So...there you go.

A "real" entry is steeping in my brain. I suppose I'll have it up in a day or so...until then...

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

I wonder... 

I wonder how long the line of beans consumed by the Nee family during the Lenten season would be if each were lined up end to end...

I wonder if the gas produced by consuming so many beans could be "harvested" and somehow used to supplement the gas heating system used by the Nee family and thereby reduce our monthly heating bill...

I wonder if there were actually two people searching for "Randy+Travis+Pancakes" on google the same day, landing here on my little blog...twice.

I wonder, if it was the same person, why they came here twice when they knew I really didn't have much to say about Randy Travis and/or pancakes...

I wonder if all those performing google searches looking for porn sites, and then landing here actually stayed around for a while...

I wonder why I continue to add blogs to my "blog run" when I complain about the lack of time in my life to do "stuff,"...

I wonder if you are reading Marya, because you should be...

I wonder why I cry every time I read this book to my daughter...

I wonder why I waited so long to read Dostoevsky, The Brother's Karamozov when I know I learn more from stories than didactic stuff...

I wonder why my dog barks and the wind and howls along with ambulance sirens...

I wonder if my daughter's eyes will turn green, like mine did and if she'll miss her blue eyes...

I wonder if my son will still look like a little old man as he does now, when he really is a little old man...

I wonder if my oldest knows just how much I really love him, even though he didn't really come from me...

I wonder if I tell my husband often enough how much I love and appreciate him...

I wonder how to get bubble gum out of carpet...

I wonder how I will feel the day my children don't run into the house calling, "Where's Mommy"...

That's enough for me to chew on for a while...you?




Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Big Hand... 

When she was a young girl, she developed a peculiar fear. Like all children, she went through a monster phase. Closet monsters and under the bed ankle grabbing monsters reared their heads at bedtime, but there was one kind of monster contained in her portfolio which she had never heard mentioned of anyone else when recalling their childhood monsters. It was the "Big Hand" monster.

When she was a little girl, she actually believed that there was a large hand poised over her room ready to smash her into smithereens. The hand was attached to a large rod which would push the hand down with great force whenever she entered her room and if she wasn't quick enough, she would be smushed. During the day, if she wanted to retrieve a toy or a book from her room, she would have to race in and out as quickly as possible so as to avoid being crushed. Her parents wondered at her odd behavior, but she never let on what she believed, having often heard about her, "over the top imaginations."

Time went on, and the physical idea of the "Big Hand" monster faded. Yet she often continued to feel herself shrinking, holding back from something. In class, she would sometimes keep silent, even if she had something she felt was important to say, "they'll laugh at me," she thought. At home, her true feelings would remain hidden as she played the game with her family. "I can't be sick right now, " she'd think, "they'll be mad at me." "I can't say that. I'll get into trouble." In her head, she was a different person from the one she showed to the world, witty and full of life and imagination. Outwardly, she was a docile girl, sweet and caring. She really did care, with her whole heart she loved those others would find despicable, but she never felt free to share all that was inside her.

Excitedly, she moved towards adulthood, college and working career. Slowly, pieces of the hidden spirit inside her would come out to try their hand in the world, but she never allowed that spirit to truly run free. She went through the therapy, said the prayers, wrote down her private thoughts, but still, kept places in her soul in darkness. The times when her spirit danced, even for moments, unfettered and free were ones she held onto and treasured when she cowered from whomever and whatever she faced which caused the shackling to occur again. She ate too much, smoked to much when the fear threatened to overtake her. She knew why, but couldn't seem to stop it.

She married, she had a husband she loved and treasured, children whom made her breathless when she watched them sleep and play. Somehow, the husband and the children freed parts of her long shackled inner life. Here were some who appreciated her, even the scary parts. Still, there remained pieces of her that had run out for a moment, only to race back inside quickly, before they were crushed.

Just the other day, just yesterday in fact, she was driving the van with her children to return overdue library books. One of the books was important, the representation of a dream she had long held close to her heart since childhood. As she watched the book slide over the edge of the book drop, she began to feel angry that she had again given up. She turned to walk back to the van, wanting to shake her fist at the sky and scream, but instead, she ducked...

Monday, March 08, 2004

Kiddie Conundrums... 

A Math Conundrum
Yesterday evening, my husband took Ana and David to Home Depotto buy fire alarms while I stayed home with Michael. The idea was to give me a break and as, believe it or not, I enjoy helping Mike with his homework, I agreed. Mike's skills in mathematics are superior to his language skills, so he decided to complete his math homework first. I always completed my math work first as well, only it was because I hated math and wanted to get it over with!

But anyway, there was a particular word problem which I couldn't convince him he was doing incorrectly. The problem went something like this, "There are 22 students in the class. 12 of the students chose 'Painted Ladies' as their favorite butterfly. How many students chose other butterflies as their favorites?" Michael completed the problem by adding 22 + 12 to arrive at the sum of 34.

No, it makes no sense. I tried explaining to him that there couldn't be 34 students choosing other butterflies as there were only 22 students total in the class (must be a private school). He still didn't believe me. I then drew 22 "x's" on a scrap piece of paper and erased 12 to arrive at the correct answer of 10 students choosing other butterflies.

"Did we add students or take away students?" I asked.

"Take away," Mike replied.

"So you would subtract, not add, right?"

"Right."

"Ok, well fix the problem on your worksheet and let's move on."

When I looked over a few moments later to see what he had done, Mike had again written 22+12=34. When I asked him why, he said something like, "Ms. Clark said if it doesn't say, 'more than' then you add." Apparently, his teacher had taught her students some sort of formula for completing word problems. No amount of my cajoling or re-explaining could get him to change the problem. Mike had either gotten the "formula" mixed up, or his teacher is a ding-a-ling. I finally allowed Mike to leave the problem as it was and hopefully his teacher is not a ding-a-ling and will be able to explain the problem to him better than I.

It's a shame the kids are learning "formulas" to solve word problems. I thought the whole point of word problems was to develop logic and critical thinking skills. My high school physics teacher admonished us to learn how to think. "You'll get that little piece of paper that says your smart, to out into the world and never be able to make it because you don't know how to think." It's almost frightening that I now agree with him!

Moonlight Awakening Conundrums
Ana woke up around midnight last night. Jim first tried to help her as he was awake anyway, but by 2:00 AM, Mommy was on duty. She couldn't tell me what was wrong, she only writhed and whined in bed. The first two times I trudged up the stairs to help her, I slipped back into bed for a few moments, never really going back to sleep. The third time I was called up from out basement bedroom to the 2nd floor of our house, Ana was standing up in bed, ready to move to the couch. I only allow this after I have gotten up for the day.

"Ana, you have to go back to bed."

"NO! Lay down on the couch.

"Honey, it's not time to get up yet."

"NO! Lay down on the couch."

What to do, what to do. This is all partly my fault because she sometimes falls asleep on the couch during TV time. TV time occurs while David is taking his afternoon nap. Ana no longer needs a nap every day, but does occasionally catch a few winks during her TV time. She's also going through changes. We recently phased binky out and are now phasing out the "taking a cup of juice" to bed thing. I know, I know, I wasn't supposed to do that to begin with. But, when you have an infant and a 15 month old at the same time, you sometimes do stupid things in order to ensure sleep for yourself, what little of it you can attain with "two under two."

She hasn't had trouble falling asleep without her cup, having the whole, "big girl" idea explained to her. Ana's goal (decided by Mommy) is to be out of a diaper and dry through the night. Thus, nothing to drink after dinner and no cup in bed. The difficulty lies mostly when she wakes up in the middle of the night and doesn't have her cup. Ana has water by her bed, but this doesn't seem to help her in the middle of the night.

"I'll stay here with you until you fall asleep." A fight ensued. She really wanted to go downstairs, I suspect because I get her a cup of juice first thing in the morning. Finally, Ana acquiesced and allowed me to cover her up for sleep. I waited until her breathing seemed regular again before I crept down the stairs. I was halfway down, when I heard, "Mommy STAY!" I finally ended up assuring that I was sitting on the stairs and would wait for her to sleep. Every time I took a few steps, "Mommy STAY!" Old house, creaky floor boards....

I finally managed to creep back in bed, by telling her I was on the steps, even when I wasn't. I felt badly lying, but as I explained to her at one point, "Mommy needs her sleep to take care of you!"

A "no" conundrum
"No" is quickly becoming David's favorite word. He's actually really cute when he says "no" as his voice rises in inflection sounding almost indignant that I would tell him "to do" or "not to do" something. The really funny thing as that as soon as a move is made toward him to remove the offending object, or to curtail forbidden behavior, David immediately gives in. Unlike his sister where every other admonition is a battle.

Cleaning with kids conundrum
Monday is all over the house general spruce up cleaning day. I attempt to follow Flylady's prescriptions for house cleaning. Some of her ideas are good ones, break small tasks down, follow a schedule for cleaning. Essentially it boils down to having a plan and following it.

Nice idea. Really nice. I'm supposed to spend "5 minutes on each task." Has she ever done this with my kids. I tried sending them outside this morning, but they seemed to have inherited my southern "me no likey cold" gene and were soon back inside. I suppose I could park them in front of the TV, but I just don't like them to watch a lot of TV.

So, I usually end up saying things like this: "The potty is not a toy. It is for Pee Pee, Poo Poo and stinky toilet paper. It is not a bathtub for dolly or a lake for toy ducky. We do not empty a complete roll of clean toilet paper into the potty just to see what will happen. It is not a place for you to wash your hands. The lid is not for banging as loud as possible just to see if you can be louder than sissy. Please leave the bathroom. Go, go now. You have a slew of toys in your room, go play with them. I told you not to slam the lid, that's why your fingers hurt...."

15 minutes later, if I'm lucky, the toilet is shiny. If you are ever able to visit Casa Nee, please forgive the fingerprints on the wall, dog hair on the floor, the dishes in the sink and the circles under my eyes. But most importantly, never open a closet door...you could be taking your life into you hands!

Words... 

I have been reading, The Psalter and the Holy Fathers for Lent this year. I try and read, with the commentary following, 5 Psalms a day. One particular, "commentator" had become my favorite. Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich and his Prayers by the Lake are oft quoted in The Psalter... and I much appreciate his words. I wanted to share a few passages which have meant much to me lately:
You are the only event of my life, O lamp of my soul. When a child scurries to the arms of his mother, events do not exist for him. When a bride races to meet her bridegroom, she does not see the flowers in the meadow, nor does she hear the rumbling of the storm, nor does she smell the fragrance of the cypresses or sense the mood of the wild animals--she sees only the face of her bridegroom; she hears only the music from his lips; she smells only his soul. When love goes to meet love, no events befall it. Time and space make way for love.

and,
White doves fly over my blue lake, like white angels over the blue heaven. The doves would not be white nor would the lake be blue, if the great sun did not open its eye above them.
O my heavenly Mother, open Your eye in my soul, so that I may see what is what--so that I may see who is dwelling in my soul and what sort of fruits are growing in her.
Without Your eye, I wander hopelessly through my soul like a wayfarer in the night, in the night's indistinguishable gloom. And the wayfarer in the night falls and picks himself up, and what he encounters along the way he calls "events"...
Aimless wanderers and loveless people have events and have history. Love has no history, and history no love.

and finally,
When you build for Him, you are proving that your soul has not forgotten everything and has not reconciled herself to the shacks of the body.
You build for him expensive edifices, in order to remind your soul that she was intended for a royal palace, and not for hovels of clay.
You are not building a house for Him, but an image for your soul, a book and a reminder for your soul.
Your Lord is overflowing with grace, and He comes down into your stone temples to meet with your soul.

I don't think I'm going to commentate myself. I hope these quotes are enjoyable and that they provide food for thought...

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