Everywhere Present

“Secularism is the compartmentalization of God and religion, and everything else, into autonomous and unrelated parts of our lives.”

“It would seem to me that anyone who comes from a sacramental tradition should feel a certain cognitive dissonance with the sounds and images of secularized thought.”

Excerpt From

Everywhere Present: Christianity in a One-Storey Universe, by Fr Stephen Freeman.

i will share more about this profound book in the weeks to come. For today this is the Commonplace Book installment.

Advertisements

Truth

“To this day the whole world quests after truth…’This is the way the Staretz [St. Silouan] knew the Christ Who appeared to him, and he insisted that it is the only true and sure way to knowledge of God which is eternal life…The true Church always keeps Christ’s teaching intact but not all those who consider themselves members of the Church, and even speak in her name, understand it, for the gates of her love are wide open to all, independently of their spiritual level of provided they confess the faith and want to be saved…This greatly complicates the problem of distinguishing the true Church…This commandment of Christ’s, ‘Love your enemies,’ is the reflection in our world of the Triune God’s all-perfect love…However wise, learned, noble a man may be, if he does not love his enemies-that is, love his every fellow-being-he has not attained to God…Away from the One True God, it is impossible to love our enemies.”

This was part of the reading yesterday my husband and i shared. The truth and profundity of the words was so powerful that i had to share it with you for today’s installment of the Commonplace Book. For the complete section check out the book St. Silouan the Athonite by Archimandrite Sophrony.

Share

Today i am linking up the Five Minute Friday group.

The word is SHARE. The rules are to write freely for five minutes. But first a favorite quote of mine from my Commonplace Book;

“We are as dwarfs mounted on the shoulders of giants so that we are able to see more and further than they, but this is not on account of any keeness of sight on our part, but because we are lifted up upon those giant forms. Our age enjoys the gifts of the preceding ages, and  we know more, not because we excel in talent, but because we use the products of others who have gone before.”

Bernard, Master of Chartres School (written in the mid-twelfth century).

fullsizeoutput_df8

We used to learn to share. Everyone raising children still tries to teach them to share. It is difficult to let go of crayons, ideas, opinions, and power. Past cultures sometimes did a better job teaching students that where we are is only possible because of the others with us. We have become an incredibly self-focused society. Self-care is a key word today. i wonder what this will mean to those who will sit on our shoulders?

Today, we are browsing the Medieval section of the library.

IMG_9149 3

There is a lie that popular culture promotes that says that we are self-created. We all know deep down, narcissists excepting, that we do not exist in a vacuum. History is being forgotten and re-written.

Our culture acts like we believe we are giants who created the universe. The world was not created for us or by us.

img_4655.jpg

It was made by Love…so that He might love us.

To love we must Release control…

and learn to share.

 

Story

Stories move us and drive us. A narrative is often our framework for understanding. When life fails to, “make sense” it is often because we don’t grasp a unifying narrative.

For those of us who are native storytellers most of the stories pass by unrecorded. 

i reminisced about all the stories that have flickered through my head as threads that i did not follow. They were not woven into the fabric of my life. They were left dangling.

i think all writers have these loose ends.

Stories that might have been.

The one who got away is not a man. The one who got away was a Viking…

Trust

Trust can be a mountain, or an entire range. As pilgrims in the foreign land we are naturally reluctant to trust other people. It doesn’t take us long to figure out that many people are living under completely alien purposes and ideals from the orthodox Christian.

The Post-Christian culture has produced generations of people who claim to believe in God, while they live out their lives in a totally self-absorbed manner. They don’t question the basic assumption of the modern moral order premised on relativism.

We are not living here, now to gratify our pleasure-sensors and avoid pain. As practicing, thoughtful Christians, we know that is not the ultimate reality. How then do we trust others when they are often motivated only by those goals?

For me, the pilgrimage metaphor is particularly apt. Pilgrims come from various locations all centered on a powerful, transcendant place of worship. The pilgrims journey with others as long as the path leads them the same way. As the route progresses some will follow one trail, some another, and still others will try to forge their own. i recognize that everyone is not going my way. They may not even define trust the way i do. In this i think that the relativism and multiple worldviews constructs have won a large segment of the population.

Despite my apparent acceptance of the modern order in the preceding paragraph, i believe in a thoroughgoing Orthodox Christian worldview. i believe in the sacred and cherish ultimate truth, goodness and trust. My beliefs may be regarded as outdated to some, but i firmly belive that most people long for these pillars of truth even if they deny the Christian traditions connected to them.

For orthodox Christians following the principles of Jesus Christ is the goal in life. There are more people than we realize on this journey. If we follow Christ we value living a life of truth, and we are worthy of trust. However, as fallen humans we will fail sometimes. We sin and fall short of the ideal. We repent. We turn completely around. And we try again.

The way is rough; The journey is long. We will arrive battered and broken. That is how the selfishness is scrubbed out of us. 

Let us press on in faith, dear friend!

Our trust will be broken, but we will be broken into wholeness.

One day we will wash our robes white in the blood of the Lamb, may it please the Lord!

Do you know what Love is?

Love is such a popular word. People light up when hearing it spoken. Some people get flustered, defensive, or curmudgeonly when love is discussed. Few words illicit such powerful, emotional responses. Being newly engaged I am made aware of how the awareness of love affects even total strangers.

As I struggle across the room in the blinding throb of a series of monster migraines, I stop to smooth the skirt of my wedding gown. It is newly acquired and hanging in my study so I can admire its beauty. Besides, who has closet space for a wedding gown! The glimpse of tulle and lace lighten my heart and I am transported from a state of pain to happy thoughts of the future when I get to marry my Beloved! Thoughts of the wedding lift my spirit because love breaks through the ugly of today.
IMG_2883
Our world is ugly. Countless souls are slugging through today just trying to endure the pain. There is too much brokenness all around. Love shines like a shaft of warm sunlight through a cold-winter night. It cuts through the hurt, pain, doubt, and best of all death!

We can deny or misunderstand the meaning of what love actually is. It is almost easier to define what love is not than what it is. St. Paul eloquently defined love in 1 Corinthians 13. But even if we confuse love for a feeling, the feeling love gives us is an effect not a cause. We cannot confuse the two. What Jesus Christ did for us on the cross is the greatest example of love that anyone can imagine.

Love is patient, love is kind, love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant of rude. Love does not insist on its own way…rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.

When I am hit by a long series of migraines, I drift further behind each day that I am sick. The pressure that I feel inside my spirit is second only to the pressure in my head. Rest comes when I surrender to Love. I don’t need to do more, have more, or be more ____ to find rest for my soul! What I actually need is less. I need to surrender not only control of my life to Jesus, but I need also to release management of my schedule to Jesus! His mission reveals the true nature of love. There is no “earning” in love. Jesus redefined what it means to be a successful human being in the cross. He, God, poured Himself out to become one of us! He fully embraced us. He freely accepted all the lies and suffering so that by letting go of Himself, He might save us.

Jesus, who was God and could not by nature stay dead, died so that He could reach past the great abyss that existed between man and God. He saved us. We did nothing but spit in His face and nail Him to the cross. He arose Easter Sunday that we might have everlasting life. For perfectionists like me it is a terrible reality to face, but we can never be enough, complete enough, people pleasing enough, God-pleasing enough. But Jesus said, “Enough…It is finished.”

What does Christ’s mission reveal about God’s love for us?

The truths packed into this little line of the Nicene Creed are strong enough to pull us through pain, misfortune, loss and make us happy enough to, “dance at our wedding.” How can I write a blog post and comment on the greatness of Christ’s mission revealing God’s love for us during a week-long series of severe migraines? Grace. What is the central theme of His mission? Self-sacrificing love. Real love. It is the kind of love my fiancé demonstrated last evening when he looked deeply into my slit-eyes, migraine-cooling-patch covered forehead and told me I was beautiful. Love. Thanks to Jesus we know what it is. It is an action verb full of might and gentle as a whisper. Love is not a feeling-but it creates a glorious feeling to those who surrender themselves to receive it.

This post is shared with If:Gathering in the wonderful ongoing study of the Nicene Creed. No prior knowledge is required. A heart that is open is the door to truth. Join the Gathering at If:Equip.com and find this post under “Jesus Came to Bring Salvation to Us”.

The Bookshelf #1

This is the first post of the series On The Bookshelf. 

I thought I would start with

a book…

IMG_2460

He ate and drank the precious words,                                                                   His spirit grew robust;                                                                                                   He knew no more that he was poor,                                                                         Nor that his frame was dust.                                                                                         He danced along the dingy days,                                                                                  And this bequest of wings                                                                                           Was but a book. What liberty                                                                                        A loosened spirit brings!

-Emily Dickinson

 

I decided that we would begin the thoughts of what is on my bookshelves with a bit of pocket-poetry. In the days before smart phones made it easy to carry volumes of poetry in your purse or back pocket I bought these little volumes from the Easton Press. I love the compact size and there is nowhere that you cannot use a good poem. They have travelled through many a mundane day with me.

The novel that I am writing has me traveling back in time and across the sea. It is nice to come back and sink into something short, satisfying and soulful like a classic poem. Books are a chance to fly to far-flung kingdoms and experience a life that we would never know if not for the exquisite agony of being trapped in a book.

IMG_2459

I will be here again on Friday for another installment of On the Bookshelf and I will tidy the shelves themselves so that I do not have to photograph the books on the floor. I will also drop a few more hints about the book that is taking form as my imaginations tries to migrate into my computer.

Keep writing and reading!

A Woman of Words

This is a post linked to Kate Motaung’s online writing group surrounding the book, On Being A Writer:12 Simple Habits for a Writing Life that Lasts, by Ann Kroeker and Charity Singleton Craig.

I identify myself as a writer. This has been a tremendous leap forward . I have been a “closet writer” since childhood but only began to reveal some of my words to a few in college. I was encouraged to pursue writing as a career. I was at that time too enamored with the dream of researching and teaching Medieval History. Life has led me on a circuitous path. 

I never stopped writing. In various periods writing took a backseat to teaching and organizing faith education. I wrote in my journals and wrote for work. Eventually I began to blog.

My writing ebbs and flows. I am once again very close to the beginning. At times I wonder if I am being led by the Lord back to where I dropped my writing into a much subservient position in order that I rearrange my life to make more room for the words.

The  defining characteristic of my life is my relationship with Christ. I have a Christian worldview that defines and informs everything else I do. The second defining characteristic of my life has always been my connection to words and stories. Writing is more than what I do. It is who I am. To make sense of life I must write about living. My ideas take shape and substance as they hit the paper or screen. I have ideas in my mind, but I have beliefs once they are written down. 

I love words. New words are a delight to my senses. I cannot adequately explain why I love descriptive words. I love flowers because seeing them makes me happy. I love babies since their presence makes me smile inside and out. I love words in the same visceral way I love babies and flowers. They give me joy on a level that is too deep for the words I long to find to explain the phenomenon.

On Being A Writer:12 Simple Habits for a Writing Life that Lasts online discussion group

Shadows in the Snow

Shadows in the snow
Only hope can know
Spring will come again.
There is an end to pain.

What seems invincible
Is one day overcome.
At first we feel undone
By that which proves most serviceable.

Despite the endless beating
Of ice upon the thorn
I know that there’s a purpose
In each snowy morn.
Whatever the wintry weather
Hurled at my door.

The sun will rise,
I know.
They will come again.
Shadows on the snow.