St. Herman of Alaska Monastery
What a whirlwind these last weeks have been! The build up of Great Lent and Holy Week to the climax of Pascha isn’t something that can be properly explained — it’s one of those experiences that has to be lived to be understood… suffice it to say things have been very intense around here… and very beautiful.
Right now I’m letting the boys sleep in, and I’m enjoying the silence around me (other than the sound of one of our beloved cats snoring somewhere nearby – she’s aging along with the rest of us). I’m still wrapped in my robe, curled up on the couch – I dare not look around this room… at the moment it looks like a bookstore threw up in here. :) There’s not much room for anything else between the laundry I’m putting away/packing for our trip north and the books taking up their spaces on every surface available… There’s something comforting about a room brimming with books (though I’ll admit the clutter gets to me sometimes), and in a homeschooling family like ours there’s always something within reach to read. From where I’m sitting I can see a Psalter, a number of prayer books, a theology book, the life of Elder Barsanuphius (one The Philosopher is reading, he’s about 1/3 of the way through its 814 pages), a worn and well-loved copy of Swiss Family Robinson, numerous classics, The Professor’s copy of Father Seraphim Rose which is so well-loved it’s falling apart (he reads all his books well beyond the “taped together” phase – don’t ask to see his prayer books…), as well as a plethora of others ranging in subject from The Far Side to Programming in Objective C — and we still haven’t unpacked the “school books” yet. After homeschooling as long as we have, I’ll admit – I’m not worried about the school books… we’ll get them out eventually, and use them rarely. There’s too much else to learn… :)
Sitting here listening to the birds outside — all these new birdsongs that are not familiar yet — I’m in awe of this little life I’ve been given. How many people live their dreams like I do? How many people even let themselves have the opportunity to dream in the first place? This world isn’t friendly to dreamers. In fact, if you aren’t careful this world will eat you alive along with your dreams. But I’ve been blessed. Blessed beyond measure.
Every day I wake up as the mother of two amazing sons. I’ve been given the gift of watching them learn and grow — thanks to The Professor I’ve been a mother for 15 years now… 15 years learning patience, humility, gratitude, and love… and yet I find myself still knowing so little. The lessons I’ve been given to learn in this life are ones that require an entire lifetime, and my total devotion. This last year in particular I have learned that God really is good. God is good. And those aren’t just words. Everything that is allowed by His Providence is good. All the struggle, the heartache, the pain — all the confusion and sorrow — everything that throws us on our knees at His feet… it is all the gift of Grace. Our aim in life is to become like Christ – that cannot happen without a lot of change on our part… and it is that change… that real, ontological change, that is what happens to us in this journey of Life. It is our growth from glory to Glory that begins now… and in embracing the Cross we are given, we embrace the Will of God for the salvation of our souls. How can we not have His peace that surpasses understanding? How can we not trust? Nothing can separate us from His love — nothing. In my moments of clarity I know this so deeply my bones ache with the weight of its Truth. I want to spill the reality of it out upon all my loved ones — I want the universe to know this Rest… All creation is Renewed in the Paschal Light… it is.
But of course… those moments of clarity are usually eclipsed by the day to day reality of life. :) I know the Truth, but I only allow it to set me free in the moments where it forces itself upon me… those flashes of the Deep Reality I rarely see. I am so human… so small. I know the depth of my humanity — but it’s hard for me to remember that it is the same human nature Christ has united to His Divine Nature… all really is made New. God is God, and I have no need of anything else. I do not have to guess what He wants from me, I do not have to search and be confused as to His Will for me… His Will is now. It is my union with Him in this moment… and this one… and this one. It is the salvation of my soul lived out now. There is no need for any other struggle than to remain in the Constant Awareness of His Presence… and that is definitely struggle enough for an entire lifetime. It is the Struggle, and the only true Rest – the ultimate paradox of Peace that passes all understanding… no matter the storm.
Easy to say – every once in awhile it isn’t too hard to grasp — but to live it… impossible of our own volition and strength.
But with God all things are possible. :) I keep telling myself that at the end of my days, when I’ve caught myself raising my voice in frustration, when I’ve forgotten yet again that tasks aren’t as important as people, when I’ve hurt in trying to help… thank goodness for the balm of Confession, and wise spiritual direction to help me refocus myself frequently. How simple it is to just get “lost” – to get so wrapped up in day to day life you don’t even see the moments you’re living… It’s so easy to be home and yet not ever find yourself actually there — my mind runs on ahead to a thousand other places, and I lose what I’m supposed to be treasuring. God is truly everywhere, filling all things, all times, all places… so yes, He is there in the future my mind runs to — but I’m not. I am here. Now. In this moment – this beating heart, this given-breath – this is where I can meet God. He is not met in my thoughts, He is met in me. Here. It is easy for us to forget that it is our souls and our bodies together that are being transformed into the likeness of Christ. Eternity is for the entirety of our being – we were made for immortality, and the defeat of Death and finite-ism has already been accomplished in the Victory of Pascha. It’s especially easy to forget this for those of us who struggle with bodies we consider uncooperative – ill or broken in some way – unwilling, or unable to do what we think needs to be done. But our bodies are already beginning their ontological change – even now – we begin the salvation and sanctification of our souls and bodies in the life we’re living now in the Light of our Baptism and Chrismation… Christ has made the Way for us to be united to Him… really and truly – to become partakers of His Divine Nature… The Cross is our Glory. I would do well not to forget… to remember the Deep Reality. To embrace the glory of my crosses… and so embrace the Will of God.
In never-ending, ever-increasing Gratitude – I’m still practicing the Remembrance of God:
1442… water pump working – creek water for washing clothes!
1444… fixed sink – twice!
1445… Cucumbers – fresh and cool
1446… Chant recordings
1447… monks visiting
1448… knitting rhythm
1449… university audio lectures – The Fellowship of the Ring :)
1450… sleeping cats
1453… warm water
1454… rocking chairs
1455… bread baked before bed
1457… snail mail letters
1458… pie made for us by hand (from our landlady!)
1459… gift giving and receiving
1460… happy husband
1461… boy laughter
1462… Psalms in the morning
1463… “May God forgive…”
1464… Pre-Sanctified Liturgies
1465… sunbeams – streams of light
1466… dog love
1467… voices chanting prayers
1468… Tolkein Poetry
1469… online chats with my Mister while he’s at work
1470… learning balance
1471… letter writing
1472… remembering gratitude
1473… reminiscing with my Mister
1474… audio recordings of far away friends
1475… slow days
1476… Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra movies
1477… simple meals
1479… puppet videos made by the boys
1480… sandpaper cat tongues
1481… moments with my Mister – my best friend
1482… Lazarus Saturday
1483… “Peace be unto all…”
1484… sunlight on golden threads
1485… Victory Palms
1486… Evening Kathisma
1487… night-time bread baking
1488… Philosopher snuggles
1489… Palm/Willow Sunday
1490… giving a monk from Russia a ride
1491… Fiddler on the Roof!!
1492… live orchestras
1493… just Mister and me
1494… willing babysitters
1495… possible new neighbors!
1496… air conditioner in the boys room – working!
1497… recovery day
1498… soggy cereal
1499… “real” books
1501… Holy Monday
1502… boys in vestments
1503… Gospel readings
1504… patches of sunlight on the chapel floor
1505… grass “gone to seed”
1506… new air conditioner in the living room!
1507… trees clothed in green again
1508… setting sunlight on golden hair — the Philosopher prostrated in prayer
1509… “Let my prayer arise…”
1510… Confession first thing in the morning
1511… “You’re a nice lady…” :)
1512… waiting for patience :)
1513… “Hear us, O God…”
1514… Holy Unction
1515… seven anointings
1516… Mister home early
1517… baking bread first thing in the morning
1518… sleeping in
1519… waking to a cat snoring beside me
1520… Commemoration of the Mystical Supper – the Eucharist
1521… Communion with Christ in Suffering
1522… sunset rays on Christ’s icon
1523… the 12 Gospel Readings
1524… flowers around the “tomb of Christ”
1525… celery sticks and peanut butter
1526… resting between services
1527… contemplating the Panagia on that Great and Holy Friday – always with mother-love tears
1528… Pascha feast preparations
1529… memories of when the boys were small
1531… weathered storms
1532… defrosted meat! :)
1534… red eggs
1535… “Christ is Risen from the dead…”
1536… forehead kisses
1537… feasting in the early morning hours
1538… celebrations in Community!
1539… chicken salad with Ranch!
1540… quiet, peaceful joy
1541… explosive joy!
1542… “the best Pascha ever!” – according to the Philosopher :)
1543… glowing faces in procession – joy and candlelight
1544… the Professor and Philosopher serving at the altar with my Mister – Blessed Feast of Feasts!!!
1545… shared glances of joy and awe
1546… gentle rain
1547… the smell of wet earth
1548… banana bread baking
1549… being a wife and mother
1550… haircuts accomplished
1551… Mister and I still dreaming together after all these years
1552… “…trampling down Death by death…”
1553… cottage cheese :)
1554… cat naps
1555… cool, cloudy days
1556.. icon gifts
1557… book shopping :)
1558… spiritual reading – encouragement for the soul
1559… protein shakes
1560… life of St. Martyr Tsar Nicholas
1561… rainy days
1562… boys playing outside
1563… fresh flowers in the chapel
1564… Paschal Hours
1565… puppet laughter :)
1567… packing preparations
1568… hubby home early – surprise!!! :)
1569… morning snuggles
1570… travel excitement
1571… washing machine working
1572… kitty love
1573… our 3rd year Anniversary of becoming Orthodox!!
1574… road trips!!!
1575… visiting family
1576… looking at old pictures
1577… Akathist prayers
1578… old puppy dog eyes
1579… loose skirts in the heat
1580… Mother’s Day – three generations of mothers celebrating together – a houseful!! :)
Sorry there were so many today… I’m behind in posting, but I’ve been trying to keep track even when I can’t find time to post. Right now, my goal is to stop seven times a day and notice what God is giving me… I don’t always accomplish it… often my moments are lost… but at least it’s a goal. :)
May the Light of this Paschal Season shine on us all as we strive to remember the Grace and Goodness of God!!
Lord, have mercy…