Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Saturday, November 27, 2010

i am a fire, and i must burn today

It's been awhile since I've discovered a musician as refreshing as AA Bondy.

AA Bondy, "I Can See the Pines Are Dancing"


According to the Wikipedia entry for casseroles, "by the 1970s casseroles took on a less-than sophisticated image."
The neutrality of this Wikipedia article is clearly questionable. Adrienne is considering flagging it.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Thank You, Lena Davis.

I am thankful for the right to vote as a woman. Today I was thinking about my 101-year-old great-grandmother and her amazing story about voting. When women were finally allowed to vote, my great-grandmother was 11-years-old. Nanny remembers a woman named Lena Davis who lived in her hometown of Vasper, Tennessee. This remarkable woman stole a ballot by stuffing it in "her bosom" (Nanny's words) and took it to all the women in the town. She showed them how to mark the ballot so that they wouldn't be afraid of voting. In fact, she went to my great-great-grandmother, Carrie Elizabeth Prater Adams, whom my grandmother and sister are named for, and asked if she was going to vote. Carrie said she would if she knew how, so Lena pulled it out and showed her how to mark the ballot. Lena then took Carrie to the Mason lodge which was on the second floor of the country post office. Nanny said that when it was time for lunch, a Republican and a Democrat took the ballot box to the Adams' house, and one of the men put his foot on the ballot box during the meal so that it couldn't be tampered with. It was the talk of the whole town -- that women could finally vote.

I am thankful for women like Lena Davis, who may never be featured in a history book or have memorials in their honor. Though they may be forgotten, their effects are still present; Lena Davis' legacy has lived on. Voting has always been important in my family, and I am happy to know that my great-great-grandmother was the first woman of our family to vote.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

that your labors may not be in vain

Bear no ill-will towards another man, that your labors may not be in vain; purify your heart towards all men, that you may see in yourself the peace of God... - Abba Isaiah

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

upon those in the tombs, bestowing life

Oh, how timely it was for me to read this!

"Have you ever been or are you now caught in some sin or old habit or old way of thinking from which you have not yet escaped? Some anxiety or troubling behavior? ...[T]hese troubles can feel like tombs. They are things into which we have fallen, and we have never been able to pry the door loose. There are all sorts of tombs into which a person can fall long before we are physically dead. During the Lenten season, for example, many Christians pray a prayer that mentions four such tombs. 'Oh Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, despair, lust of power, and idle talk.'

...Especially in our day and age, tombs are everywhere. Substance addiction, behavioral addiction, a desperate need for approval, a feeling of never doing enough, a fixation on the shape of one’s body, lack of self-discipline, money troubles, lustful thoughts or actions, eating disorders, lingering resentments, judging others, feeling judged, excessive internet usage, peer pressure, an irritable spirit, a lingering illness, and the list goes on. Every one of these is a tomb that drains the life out of us....For us, our own tomb is any crippling behavior over which we feel powerless...

There is a song, quite popular in Orthodox churches this time of year, springtime. “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs, bestowing life.” There is a hope that flows from the resurrection of Christ and that hope pours as much into the tombs in which we have fallen now as it does into the tombs in which we will be placed within after our last bodily breath. When we sing this hopeful song, we have in mind not only the graves then that swallow the dead, but the tombs now that swallow the living. Imagine: Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death-by-death and upon those in the tombs of laziness, upon those in the tombs of craving approval, upon those in the tombs of depression, of physical pain, of anger toward God, of 'fill in the blank.' Upon those in these tombs bestowing life. The hope of resurrection is as much present as it is future, as much now as it is then...

From this hopeful truth flow key questions asked by that face in the mirror. What are your tombs? What are the sins, behaviors, habits that are draining the life out of you? Can you name them? Can you admit that the temptations are stronger than your own strength to resist them? Can you refuse to lay blame for them on anyone or anywhere but yourself? Do you trust God to raise you, finally, from the deadness of these tombs? Are you willing to cooperate with him, to do your part to be delivered, to do your own soul work? Can you imagine a day when you love freedom more than you love what is keeping you from being free?...

What a hopeful truth. Sin disfigures a person, but grace makes him beautiful. Sin disfigures a person, but grace makes her beautiful. Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death-by-death and upon wherever you feel most lost in your life right now, there, bestowing love."

- Fr. John Oliver, from the Hearts and Minds podcast

You can listen to the full podcast here. I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

dinner conversation in the Kennedy household

"Some people look at creamed corn and ask why. I look at creamed corn and ask why not."

"Ask not if someone can pass the salt and pepper to you. Ask if you can pass the salt and pepper to someone."

- Brian Regan

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

the energy of loneliness

"But I believe that loneliness is something essential to human nature; it can only be covered over, it can never actually go away. Loneliness is part of being human, because there is nothing in existence that can completely fulfill the needs of the human heart...Loneliness is the fundamental force that urges mystics to a deeper union with God. For such people, loneliness has become intolerable but, instead of slipping into apathy or anger, they use the energy of loneliness to seek God. It pushes them towards the absolute."

- Jean Vanier, Becoming Human

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sunday, May 30, 2010

when love and duty are one, then grace is in you

I recently finished The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham, published in the 20s. I enjoyed the book because of how the main character, Kitty Fane, changes through the story. A selfish, unfaithful wife, Kitty is taken to rural China where her husband is researching a cholera epidemic and trying to find ways to save the people there. She begins to help at the orphanage there, and through the love of the nuns and orphans, she is changed and begins to see the world in a different light. The book overall isn't very quotable, but there are a few lines that are very beautiful. Here below are some quotes from the book, most of them by the character of the Mother Superior.

Side Note: If you have seen the movie, it is very different than the book. Just FYI.

"'It is a great misfortune to have a heart,' said Kitty, with a smile.
'It is a great good fortune to consecrate that heart to the love of Jesus Christ, [said Mother Superior].'"

"There is only one way to win hearts and that is to make oneself like unto those of whom one would be loved." - Mother Superior

"Remember that it is nothing to do your duty, that is demanded of you and is no more meritorious than to wash your hands when they are dirty; the only thing that counts is the love of duty; when love and duty are one, then grace is in you and you will enjoy a happiness which passes all understanding." - Mother Superior

from The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham

Sunday, March 07, 2010

an opportunity of a lifetime

Ruth-Anne: You bought me a grave for my birthday?
Ed: Do you like it?
Ruth-Anne: Yes, I do. It's a beautiful spot, Ed. A great place to spend eternity.
Ed: They'll dig your hole here. You'll have a great view of the mountain.
Ruth-Anne: What should we do now?
Ed: Now? What do you mean?
Ruth-Anne: You know what I'd like to do? Dance.
Ed: Dance? Where?
Ruth-Anne: Here. On my grave. It's an opportunity of a lifetime, wouldn't you say?

[from Northern Exposure, episode "A Hunting We Will Go"]

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

do you love Jesus?

Yesterday at the store, I saw an old babushka hobbling with a shopping buggy up and down the aisle. She had a Soviet-style scarf, the one that is the symbol of old Russia. I went up to her and asked if she was from Russia. She had the biggest smile on her face, and she said yes. I told her that I lived in Russia for four months. She asked, "Motter, Fotter?" I told her that they were not from Russia. Then she said clear as a bell, "Do you love Jesus?" I told her yes, and she smiled. Then, she asked in Russian what what my name was, but I did not understand her. Then she just said, "Name, name." I told her, and then I asked her what her name was. "Tania." I told her I was happy to meet her. She smiled yet again, and then we both finished our shopping.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Cheesefare Sunday, or Forgiveness Sunday

Orthodoxy celebrates the Day of Forgiveness today which is sometimes called Cheesefare Sunday. It is the Sunday before Great Lent begins.

When I was in Russia, the parking lot guard asked me and Cathy, the woman with whom I was staying, to forgive him. It was the most random thing I had ever experienced since I had never spoken to the man. We asked him to forgive us too, and his smile was so big after that. Here are so me questions and answers about Cheesefare Sunday.

QUESTION 1: Why Is Forgiveness Sunday so-called?

St. Tikhon [of Moscow] answers this question quite well:

"Today is called 'Forgiveness Sunday.' It received this name from the pious Orthodox Christian custom at Vespers of asking each other’s forgiveness for discourtesy and disrespect. We do so, since in the forthcoming fast we will approach the sacrament of Penance and ask the Lord to forgive our sins, which forgiveness will be granted us only if we ourselves forgive each other. 'If ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.' (Matt. 6.14, 15)" (From a sermon by St. Patriarch Tikhon, when he was Bishop of Alaska and the Aleutian Islands, 1901. Text taken from email posted to an Orthodox mailing list)

QUESTION 2: What event is commemorated on Forgiveness Sunday?

On the last Sunday before Great Lent begins, we remember the expulsion of Adam and Eve from paradise.

"Adam was banished from Paradise through disobedience / and cast out from delight, / beguiled by the words of a woman. / Naked he sat outside the garden, lamenting ‘Woe is me!’ / Therefore let us all make haste to accept the season of the Fast / and hearken to the teaching of the Gospel, / that we may gain Christ’s mercy // and receive once more a dwelling-place in Paradise." (Sticheron from Lord I have cried, 6th tone, Forgiveness Sunday)

QUESTION 3: The last weekend before Great Lent is the last time we do several things. Can you think of three things that are not done again until after Great Lent (or even well after Pascha)?

Forgiveness Sunday is the last day in which we eat milk, cheese, eggs and other dairy products until Pascha.

It is also the last Sunday we will serve St. John Chrysostom’s liturgy until Palm Sunday (which, by the way, is not considered to be in Great Lent). During the holy fast, St Basil’s liturgy is served on Sundays.

The matins service for this weekend is the last time the theologically rich and compunctionate singing of "By the Waters of Babylon" psalm until next year. It is only sung in church the three Sundays that precede Great Lent.

QUESTION 4: Fasting is discussed in the services on Forgiveness Sunday, and all the days of Great Lent. What *most important* kind of fasting is stressed over and over?

The services of the church and the fathers stress over and over that our physical fast from food is useless if we do not also strive to "fast" from our iniquities. Fasting from food is an important aid to the help purify the soul, and to gain in virtue.

"The season of the virtues now has come / and the Judge is at the door. / Let us not hold back with darkened face, / but let us keep the Fast, / offering tears, contrition and almsgiving; / and let us cry: / ‘Our sins are more in number than the sand of the sea; / but, Deliverer of all, forgive each one of us, // that we may receive an incorruptible crown.’" (Sessional Hymns after the 1st Psalter Reading)

"The arena of the virtues has been opened. / Let all who wish to struggle for the prize now enter, / girding themselves for the noble contest of the Fast; / for those that strive lawfully are justly crowned. / Taking up the armor of the Cross, / let us make war against the enemy. / Let us have as our invincible rampart the Faith, / prayer as our breastplate, and as our helmet almsgiving; / and as our sword / let us use fasting that cuts away all evil from our heart. / If we do this, we shall receive the true crown // from Christ the King of all at the Day of Judgment." (Praises)

"Adam was driven out of Paradise, / because in disobedience he had eaten food; / but Moses was granted the vision of God, / because he had cleansed the eyes of his soul by fasting. / If then we long to dwell in Paradise, / let us abstain from all needless food; / and if we desire to see God, / let us like Moses fast for forty days. / With sincerity let us persevere in prayer and intercession; / let us still the passions of our soul; / let us subdue the rebellious instincts of the flesh. / With light step let us set out upon the path to heaven, / where the choirs of angels with never-silent voice / sing the praises of the undivided Trinity; / and there we shall behold the surpassing beauty of the Master. / O Son of God, Giver of Life, / in Thee we set our hope: / count us worthy of a place there with the angelic hosts, / at the intercessions of the Mother who bore Thee, O Christ, / of the apostles and the martyrs // and of all the saints.’" (Praises)

QUESTION 5: What is commemorated next Sunday (the first Sunday of Great Lent)?

On the first Sunday of Great Lent we celebrate the "Triumph of Orthodoxy."

QUESTION 6: What is the fasting typicon for next week, and all the days in the Lenten season?

During all of Great Lent, we eat no animal products (with one exception). We abstain from all flesh meat, fish, milk, cheese and other milk products, eggs, olive oil, wine and hard liquor on all weekdays (Monday through and including Friday). On the weekend (Saturday and Sunday), the fast is relaxed a little. We can have olive oil or wine if we wish. On Annunciation, fish is allowed, since this is such a joyful feast of the Mother of God.

QUESTION 7: During Great Lent, we sing the long and rich canon of St. Andrew of Crete. When and in which services?

The first four evenings of Great Lent (Clean Monday through Clean Thursday), we serve Great Compline, and a portion of the Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete. During Matins for the 5th Thursday of Great Lent, (usually served Wednesday evening), we read the life of St. Mary of Egypt, and chant the Great Canon in its entirety.

QUESTION 8: Describe the dialogue in the Great Canon. Who is speaking? Who is being spoken to?

The Great Canon is a one way dialogue of St. Andrew speaking to his soul. We would do well to put ourselves in his place when the canon is being chanted.

QUESTION 9: Describe in general terms the content of the Great Canon.

The Great canon is a dialogue between St. Andrew of Crete and his soul. He brings to bear many examples of the righteous and the unrighteous from the Old and New Testaments in order to show himself good and bad examples, make himself ashamed of his sins, and spur himself to repentance. There is also significant mystical theology and typology that the saint elucidates in the midst of his lamentations.

QUESTION 10: What are the essential virtues that are a necessity for salvation that shine forth brightly in the words of the Great Canon?

The Great canon speaks continually of these two virtues: Humility, and with it, self-knowledge, and with these two, hope in God, because of knowledge of WHO HE IS.

This was written by Fr. Seraphim Holland of St. Nicholas Church in McKinney, TX.

Check out more at these links below...

and for more articles about Lent... go here.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


I was watching the Noggin Channel with my nephew, and one of their music breaks came on. The guy's name was "Dr. Stringz," and I was thinking, "This guy is SO talented! He plays the violin, the guitar, and the mandolin, and he has a fantastic voice." Then at the end...I discovered, it was Andrew Bird!

I love it!

Monday, January 04, 2010

say to God first

"If you have a child with a reactionary character, whatever you want to say to him, say to God first. Kneel before God and through the grace of God, your words will be conveyed to your child... Another child may listen to what you say, but though he hears he easily forgets. Therefore, you will kneel and ask for God's grace again, so that your fatherly words will fall upon good soil and bear fruit.... Don't pressure your children. Whatever you want to say to them, say it with your prayers. Children don't listen with their ears. They'll only listen to what we want to tell them when divine grace appears and enlightens them. When you want to say something to your child, say it to the Panagia instead and she will do all the work. Your prayer will become a spiritual hug, which embraces your children and captivates them."

- Father Porphyrios of Athens, from Road to Emmaus (an Orthodox journal)

Friday, January 01, 2010

bear patiently

"Until God ordains otherwise, a man ought to bear patiently whatever he cannot correct in himself and in others. Consider it better thus--perhaps to try your patience and to test you, for without such patience and trial your merits are of little account. Nevertheless, under such difficulties you should pray that God will consent to help you bear them calmly. If, after being admonished once or twice, a person does not amend, do not argue with him but commit the whole matter to God that His will and honor may be furthered in all His servants, for God knows well how to turn evil to good. Try to bear patiently with the defects and infirmities of others, whatever they may be, because you also have many a fault which others must endure...."

[Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ]