Wednesday, December 27, 2006

"I can't get used to my body's limits"

Amazing music by Brett Dennen, thanks to SimplyVictoria for introducing me to his music via her blog .
The last few days I've been thinking about this particular line: "I can't get used to my body's limits" from the title track of the album "There is so much more".

My children are here for the holidays and the first night my son stayed with me, the 23rd, we went to the children's hospital to deal with what turned out to be a double ear infection (poor little bug!)We were there from 630 till midnight before seeing a doctor. He's on the mend now but that visit to the hospital took the stuffing out of both of us. I was anxious about my son and already tired from a long slog at work leading up to the holidays etc.

Today my roommate Andrew took all the kids out for a bit whilst I had a nap. He had to actually tell me he was doing this (and tell me to have a nap!) I was too out of whack to realize I needed it. Thank God for friends, family and other assorted angels who keep us from our own stupidity at times.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Free me from the memories of sins long gone by.....

As part of morning prayers we say:
O Birth-giver of God, my most holy Lady! Unworthy as I am, I beg you, by your holy and powerful prayers, cleanse my clouded mind and bruised heart. Free me from the memories of sins long gone by. Rescue me from every inclination to do wrong. In your goodness help me, for I am poor and lost.

Free me from the memories of sins long gone by.....
how do you put an evil memory away?
What is it made of anyway?
Is it "just" a picture in your head, that you can simply erase or discard?
Or does it live on inside your body, printed on your cells?
Some horrible, non-recyclable, exercise in frozen plasticity.....

Sometimes we don't want to be free, perhaps the sin was sweet and we wish to hold on.
Perhaps the wound is deep and we have learned to live our lives around it, no longer using that part of our heart for much of anything.

How does She free us?
She educates our heart till it can no longer desire the sin or even the echo of its sweetness. She heals the wound, perhaps by breaking the skin and cleansing it first.

This generates some paradoxical thoughts. When we indulge a sinful memory we think we need to be chastened and rebuked, yet perhaps we need to be educated gently instead.
When we have an old hurt, we might wish to receive comfort for our pain but we might need instead to have the wound reopened or the bone broken and reset in order to be healed.
Free me from the memories of sins long gone by.....Whatever it takes.

Monday, December 18, 2006

They bring the light

My kids have been away since September with their Mom. This has been one of the most difficult passages of my life. I've been to see them a few times but how can going from seeing them all the time to once a month be anything like enough?
They arrive for 2 weeks on the solstice, Dec 22. Then it's six more months of this until July when they are with me for summer holidays and back here permanently.
Enough preamble:

They bring the light

Shining in their small cupped hands
pouring from their beautiful faces

The world turns and my heart with it
The bulls of Bashan are set at nought

My heart sings with life
My children are home

Friday, December 15, 2006

Handful of Dust

Breath of air
whispering in the dust
of autumn

I remember the sooty smell of Inverness
As a child I went often to the hospital there
I couldn't breath, that's what I remember
It's an odd thing to remember, not doing something

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Illness, healing and sin....John 9

When Christ's disciples ask him why a particular man was born blind, they suggested two reasons. "Who sinned?", they ask "This man or his parents, that he was born blind?" Our Lord's answer? "Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be made manifest in him....." Jesus then proceeds to heal the man by making mud with spit and sending him to wash in the pool of Siloam.

According to St. John Chrysostom, the disciples ask the question rhetorically, not believing that anyone had sinned, but therefore wondering why this man was then born blind.
Christ responds to this in both his words and his actions. Why does Christ say "that the works of God be made manifest."? Does He mean to tell us that God engineered this man's blindness so Christ could do this miracle and thereby prove Himself divine? Is that what is really being said here? I hope not.

Looking at what happens after this, we may see a little more of what Jesus is really after. The man is healed through obedience to Christ's command. He went and washed and then saw. The man had a part to play in his own healing. Further, the man attested to Christ as his healer. He did not try to pretend that the pool of Siloam was magical or that God had used some other means to heal him. Persecuted by the religious authorities and abandoned by his own family the man still holds to Christ. This faithfulness to the source of Life was in itself part of the man's healing and the manifestation of the work of God. Upon his faithfulness to Christ, which got him kicked out of the synangogue, Christ comes to him and reveals Himself as the source of all healing and life. This man then becomes the first person recorded as worshipping Christ in John's gospel....and one of only a very few pre-resurrection worshippers, period.

So here is the work of God manifest, not a miracle as the occasion to show Christ as the Son of God, but rather Christ showing Himself as God in order that the miracle of salvation be worked in this man's heart. A physical healing, yes. A physical healing to show everyone that He was God? No. He healed this man in order that the man might see Him. The man did see Christ and asked for a second gift of sight. He asked Christ to show him the Son of God, that he might worship Him.

The sad, pathetic backdrop of this man's beautiful journey is the religious authorities taking the rhetorical question of the disciples as their answer to the whole thing....

"They answered and said to him, You were altogether born in sins, and do you teach us? And they cast him out."

They believed, in the end, that the man 's parents must have been dreadful sinners and passed it on to him in the form of blindness and in his willfulness in not trusting their judgment of Christ.

May I not be found to follow the corrupt inclination of my heart but instead be found to say with he who was also born blind..."Lord, I believe!"


Today we had the funeral for the falling asleep in the Lord of our dear sister Nadia. Her passing was a thing expected, yet one is never 'ready'. She had been so ill for so many years. I marvel as I write this....She had become so luminous through wrestling with cancer that light seemed to pour out of her. In fact, those who did not know her before her illness often did not know her to be ill. Her whole person was transfigured by Grace. I am reminded of an icon of St. Nicholas I once saw....His face is quite dark and there are grooves in it from tears....yet the whole is suffused with an inner glory. The truth is clear in this image as it was clear in Nadia's life....
I will try to find an image of the icon to add to this note.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Little girl

A sparkling jewel among the stars
You laugh and I follow
a merry chase you lead
but only for those who will follow
not for you, the grumpy spirit
not for you, the cranky daddy
a light load for all who would dance with you
a merry heart for all who know you
Je t'aime patate.

My boy

I see your picture sitting on my desk little boy
and my heart pours out of my eyes in a river of sorrow

I miss you so much
I want so much to care for you,
to protect you from the sorrows and trials of life

I want so much to see you fly on your own
I ache so much for you
That you begin to be the man you will become
And that you always stay the boy you are
An exuberant shout of delight in this world of God's gifting
A hug for those who weep
A dance with the wind
and you are away

Monday, November 20, 2006


That pretty much sums this morning up. I've been at work the better part of the weekend. Thank God my work is so close to Church so I was at least able to get to vespers on Saturday and Liturgy yesterday. I'm feeling beat up by work but at least I'm not shambling into a busy crazy week without having been to the chalice.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Heretics and heresies

I am an Orthodox Christian by choice rather than by birth. In my case this means I'm Orthodox because I believe it to be the fullest expression of Christian faith. This means I also believe that deviation from this fullness is, plain and simple, heretical. So how then do I approach fellow Christians who are not Orthodox?
What is the disposition of my heart in conversation with non-Orthodox believers, people I respect, love and trust whom I believe are adhering to one or more heretical ideas about God, His Incarnation, our salvation in Him?
As I type this I wonder what would happen if I were to meditate on how poorly I have lived out what I profess. What if I were to think on these things in my heart before having that conversation where I am challenging a brother or sister to consider whether the Orthodox Church might have it right on a particular point. What if I were to repent of my failure to live out the point in question?
What if I began with the sure and certain knowledge that I am a heretic of the heart, and begged God to forgive and cleanse the weeping sores of my wickedness?
What if I removed the mote? And in removing the mote I saw that the mote's shadow, coming from my own eye, was a large part (not all, but a large part) of the beam I thought I saw lodged in someone else's eye?
What would that be like?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Elephant Man

Just watched this movie for the first time. Very beautiful and moving. I noted that it was produced by David Lynch who also did Twin Peaks. In my view this was a much better use of Lynch's talents than Twin Peaks.