March 15th, 2006


I have something to say!

Good morning to you. That you is singular, not plural. Now which one of you is the “you” I’m referring to? Oh, you know who you are.

My sister will be flying in to visit me on Friday afternoon. I’ll be leaving work early and riding the bus out to pick her up. I am rather excited, as is she. I think that she’ll love the snow (it doesn’t snow much in Phoenix). She’ll be here from Friday through Tuesday morning. She is just like me save for our complete asymmetry.

Tonight I’ll be attending a mid-week Lenten service, the liturgy of the pre-sanctified gifts. It is vespers service (vespers being time of prayer at the setting of the sun) with a taking of Holy Communion at its end. It is somewhat of an odd thing to take the Eucharist during a weekday of Great Lent, for Great Lent is a time of mourning and repentance, and the sacrament of the Eucharist is a celebration, a foretaste of the Kingdom that is to come. Perhaps the description of Lent as our “bright sadness” is tied to this type of service. The service is prepared for by a time of fasting, denying the body sustenance until the evening when it will commune with Christ. Psalm 34: "0 taste and see how good is the Lord.”

I have three books at the moment that I’m in the midst of reading. I have a collection of Dostoevsky’s short stories, covering the span of his career and worldviews - though I really don’t know if any of his worldviews can be empirically and scientifically classified. Is “human” a worldview? From our church library I’ve also picked up “The Power of the Word”, by Father John Breck. It is a series of essays regarding the place of the Scripture within the Orthodox liturgy and the hermeneutic mindset of the Greek Fathers. Finally I’m going through collection of short essays by Mother Raphaela. She is an Orthodox nun, and one of the few who has lived her entire life in our American culture. The book is entitled “Living in Christ”. I want to post some words of hers. She is speaking of letting Light shine in on our own self-awareness, and how that can be an ugly process:

“…If I have decided that anger, for example, is not a good thing, I may have convinced myself that I do not have any. Because I have not been willing to use it in any healthy and holy way, I will discover that it has burst forth by itself in unhealthy and destructive ways. I may discover that what I considered my wit was very thinly screened sarcastic anger. I may pity myself for bouts of depression, only to learn that they are temper tantrums turned inside out. However, once I have been convinced that I have anger and that I need to use it, I will probably instead abuse it for a long time, wallowing in it, justifying its misuse, letting others be the target for it. I will find that saying all the prayers in the world, spending every hour in silence, participating in every church service, will not move me an inch along the way until I have grappled with this anger and learned to use it the way God expects it to be used...”

(no subject)

I do not often experience any of the religous optimism, the religious beauty that I write so much about here. But I write about it because it exists and we are all on a journey towards it or away from it. How could I not write about it? The words below describe our experience:

"Sometimes God sends me moments in which I am utterly at peace. In those moments I have constructed for myself a creed in which everything is clear and holy for me. Here it is: to believe that there is nothing more beautiful, more reasonable, more sympathetic, more courageous and more perfect than Christ: and not only is there nothing but I tell myself with jealous love that never could there be." - Fyodor Dostoevsky