Quote of the day

Friday, February 26, 2010

Grocery Shopping

The cardinal rule when grocery shopping is 1)never go on an empty stomach.The rule when food shopping during fasting is to defer to rule number one.
Today was shopping day and since I am working this weekend it seemed like a good day,even with the snow flying outside,to accomplice this mission.
While near the front entrance of the store a lady stopped me with a small child in a carry all on her back and said "excuse me I know this is an odd thing to ask but can you fix my little boys' hood,he took it off and my arms aren't long enough to reach him".I smiled adjusted his hood and thought how cute is he.
upon entering the store and getting my coupons together I looked up to see a rather large police officer with a rather big black German Shepard coming toward me.The dog took a sniff of me,the officer smiled and they both walked outside.I thought thank goodness he's on a leash because this puppy could do some serious damage if either of those two were to get upset.
Standing near the vegetables I heard an angry man calling one of the store clerks over,he kept yelling "Manager,Manager come here!"The clerk walked over only to be berated by a man who obviously had psychiatric issues.The man then stormed out of the store much to the relief of the near by shoppers.
Now came my serious shopping everything looked so good and all the no-nos on my do not eat related to fasting list seemed to be jumping out into my face.Meat,milk,ice cream and on and on.
My stomach began to rumble and my will power was running short.Oh God yogurt the good Greek kind at which point I picked up 4 soy yogurts and reassured my self that when Lent was done I could have all the dairy I wanted.
The last time I spoke with my spiritual advisor he suggested that I try and figure out exactly why I'm craving things when my will power is weakening.So being a good student I ask this exact question and the answer I got was "because your hungry!" No second thoughts about that answer.
After loading my bags into the car I decided the best place to eat would be a Chinese restaurant with a buffet.This ended up being a wise choice and since its Friday they had lots of shrimp and scallops laid out not to mention vegetables, rice and fruit.
While sitting here typing my tale it seems I was so preoccupied in the store thinking about the dos and do nots that I totally forgot about the lady with the child,the police officer with the dog and the man with the clerk.I guess my stomach won out over all these odd occurrences which never even crossed my mind until now.

Commuity Meal

Last night was our community meal.I have to admit this is one of my favorite events not just because we get to be with people from the community but because we get to be with each other working together.
Although our spread was simple,homemade soup and grilled cheese sandwiches,our company and work crew was in tune to each other.
Everyone loves comfort foods and lets face it soup and a hot sandwich on a rainy night with friends is a recipe for a good evening.
Its so nice to hear people laugh I think the best part of being a church community is enjoying each other company and laughing.
Church can be a very serious place all prayer and incense and people worrying about doing everything the right way.But fellowship goes beyond church to just liking each other and those around us.
In the 5 years I have been a member of St. Michael I can honestly say I have seen a real change in people toward not only their own church family but toward the community in general.
When I first got here this church was a closed off community that just sat on a hill locked away from the rest of the world but now we seem to be opening up and starting to relax around others.
I can't say this was done with out a great deal of kicking and screaming but slowly people are coming around and this is with great thanks and respect to Fr.Peter who has truly had to carry the cross for tolerance! (and is starting to get the grey hairs to prove it....oops did I just Write that?)
Change is hard.I know I saw it when the Catholic Church went over to Vatican 2.Some older people could not adjust and ended up either leaving or being embittered.
I remember my father saying "how can something be a sin one day,like eating fish on Friday,then not a sin the next."
I think change done gradually is more acceptable then change just flung on a person in large amounts.Unfortunately for our church change as to be in the works or we will not be able to stay afloat.
But you know a church is a living breathing thing and even Jesus,when he was on this earth,helped push forward what in his day was considered radical ideas.These ideas were about bringing the church back to the real reason it was here,not for the hundreds of rules the Jewish people needed to follow but for the real roots of the faith.
A church which can follow the roots of its faith can weather many a storm even when its success is not fully realized.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Atonement

In the Jewish religion once a year they have what is called The Day of Atonement.Now its not really one day but a culmination of ten days that ends in one day with the faithful atoning for their sins in order to start their New Year fresh.
On the final morning the members gather for three services then in the evening everyone,including the cantor,reads together a list of all the sins that the entire congregation may have committed and prayers take place for forgiveness.
After the service the faithful walk into a room where loaves of bread are waiting for them, each takes a loaf then they all go down to a river and cast their loaves into the water and watch them float away,this is a symbol of their sins being removed and forgotten so they can start a new year with a clean spirit.
I got to thinking about this idea of visually watching your sins float away in order to make a new start.
When I was Catholic and went to Confession we were required to do what they called Penance.After Confession the priest would give a series of things to pray and do that hopefully,would awaken you to the fact that what you did was wrong and help remedy the situation and make a clean start.
The Jewish people believe our lives are like scales,One side good one side bad.When we do something good we tip a little to the good side but when we do something bad we tip in that direction.Since human nature puts us in the position of good and bad it is up to us to try and keep our scales balanced.
In the old Testament,during the time of atonement,loaves of bread were not used.Instead two goats were.One had a blue ribbon placed around his neck and was sacrificed the second was sprinkled with blood from the first goat,a blue ribbon tied around his horns and then he was sent out into the desert or thrown off a cliff into the water.A sign of the faithfuls sins being taken away.
We as human being are made up of senses taste,touch,hearing,smell and sight.In the Orthodox faith during Liturgy we are introduced to all our senses as we celebrate the service.We smell and see Incense,colorful robes,we touch and kiss the icons and receive communion.We hear the priest with his bells and answer his prayers.All these things involve all of our senses because true worship requires our whole being.
In our faith we also have what is called The Sunday of Forgiveness.At the end of the service each parishioner goes up to the priest,who ask for forgiveness from us then we in turn do the same from him.This is then followed through with each person in the church ending with us forgiving each other.
I find the idea of watching your sins float away very intriguing and wish after the Sunday of Forgiveness that we in some way could do something like this.Sight is very important to most human beings if you can see something tangible then you can understand it full significance.
Maybe the next time I go to confession I will take several slices of bread with me,Later I will go down to the park in my town, to the part of the river where the currents are swiftly moving, say a prayer,then throw my bread in and watch as my sins float away.
Who knows this could be very moving and significant.
I guess thats what they mean when they talk about casting your bread upon the water...or maybe not....

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Psalm 139

Being Orthodox,like being Catholic requires you to believe in life.All life,from the womb to the tomb.
My teenage years started in the 1970s' at that time I was 13 years old.I remember when the handing came down for Roe vs. Wade making abortion legal in this country.My mother was dissatisfied with this ruling,feeling the Supreme Court had gone to far.In her mind abortion was murder and that was that.
My generation was about birth control and women's rights to choose what they wanted to do with their bodies.Freedom of choice was considered correct and since most men were not going to do the right thing then the problem was left in the hands of the women.
As I have gotten older I have searched for the Guidance of Jesus,not the Catholic Church,to decide what my mind set should be.
As my religious views have grown my long held beliefs have slowly changed and softened and I believe that to have a child is a wonderful thing,a gift from God.
I know several people who have adopted children and realize that what one person takes for granted another desperately desires.
I have tried to find things in the Bible about right to life issues of the unborn but since abortion was not a big issue in Jesus time he never had to make mention of it.
Jesus talks about letting the little children come to him.He speaks of corrupting the innocence of a child and how that person should have a mill stone tied around his neck and be thrown in the ocean.Being followers of God requires use to love and be compassionate to every person and living thing.
In the old Testament the Torah talks about if two men are fighting and a pregnant woman is struck,she has a miscarriage and survives the person who hit her has to pay Restitution to the husband in front of a judge,with the husband present asking for what he thought would be a fair amount for the loss of the child and pain inflicted on the wife.If on the other hand,the wife dies then the person who struck her would also die,not because of the unborn child but because of the wife.

Today I came across something very interesting in Psalm a 139 13:16

For you formed my inward parts;You covered me in my mother's womb.
I will praise you,for I am fearfully and wonderfully made:
Marvelous are your works. And that my soul knows very well.
My frame was not hidden from you. When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Your eyes saw my substance,being yet unformed.
And in your book they all were written.
The days fashioned for me. When as yet there were none of them.

I don't know about you but here seems to be the answer.The knowledge that God knows us even in the womb.We are a part of him and although we have not reached person hood,that will come when we are born and live our lives,we are none the less a creation of God and he knows us even while we were formless.

The Gate Are Closing

Here is a Jewish prayer said in an evening service,on the day of Atonement. It focuses on the theme of gates and how fleeting is are life like the closing of the Temple gates.Time is running out for each of us...

Awesome God, let us live; forgive.
The gates are closing.

Our merits few, we look to you.
The gates are closing

Save us from foes; your power just, in you we trust.
The gates are closing.

Our ancestors great, our merits few, our lives renew.
The gates are closing.

In spite of sin, again help us begin.
The gates are closing.

Your flock embrace, with love and grace.
The gates are closing.

In great compassion, forgiveness fashion.
The gates are closing.

Let joy, not strife, embrace our life.
The gates are closing.

Redemption bring, that we may sing,
though the gates are closing...

Later on in the service this is said:

Open for us the gates, even as they are closing.
The day is waning, the sun is low.
The hour is late, a year has slipped away.
Let us enter the gates at last.
Lord, have compassion. Pardon,forgive,take pity.
Grant us atonement. Help us to conquer our iniquity and sin.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Schedules

While talking with Fr. Peter I explained to him about my inability to do all the religious things I want to do when home.It seems that as we go through Lent I have prayers to say,Psalms to read,meditation,reading of both Old and New Testaments and other religious types of materials and am beginning to feel well,slightly over whelmed.I'm not sure when and where to make all these things fit into my daily routine.
He asked me if I were the type of person who scheduled my time by writing things and times down? The first answer I thought of was "Yes but only the important things".Though that was not the answer I gave I realized that if this was my brains first response then I need to figure out why.
On my drive home I started to think about this answer.Did I really feel that my religious life was not important enough to write down and follow through?
I am not much when it comes to writing things in note pads or wearing watches.When I have a day off you will never see me wearing a watch,I do not want time to be the focus of my day.
Most of the lists I write are for things like groceries.Important dates and times I keep on my kitchen calender.
The fact that I do not schedule religious time,I think,relates to the fact that I like to feel loose with my time and not constrained into feeling like a slave to my schedules and the out side world.In other words I like to run my life on my own time.I believe this is called self absorption.
Today when I got home I decided to try and set up a schedule of religious time.Each day I will try something new and see how it fits into my daily routine,if it works at this particular time of day I will write it down,if not I will try another time.In a matter of days,or weeks I should be able to schedule my time so it fits my home and work times.
I have also decided to keep a kind of log with prayers I like and interesting quotes and passages from the bible and religious books,things that jump out at me.Later I can reread and contemplate them.
On my drive home I saw a sign on a church that said "If God chose only perfect people to do his work then nothing would get done." I like this quote it reminds me that God does not expect us to be perfect but to do the best we can.This will go into my log to remind me when I feel off my path toward God that its OK to try again and readjust.Besides the last perfect person died over 2,000 years ago.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Crosses and Symbols

Most Christians,believers and followers of Jesus Christ,feel the need to wear a cross usually around their necks.
Many people have different taste when it comes to crosses and if you go to the EWTN web site and look through their on line catalog you will be amazed by the number of choices before you.Celtic,orthodox and Franciscan,traditional and modern gold,silver or wood.Some with Jesus on the cross some with out.
If you ask most people why they wear a cross they will probably say its a way of outwardly signifying their belief in Jesus to show to the world who they are and what they believe.
In the Jewish tradition tassels are worn on the four corners of a males garments on these tassels are threads of blue and white.Each strands number and color stands for different things in the Jewish faith.
The regulations of these tassels were handed down to Moses from God and they are usually worn close to the skin.Since most modern Jewish men do not wear four cornered Garments through out their day they wear a kind of tee-shirt with these tassels sewn on under their clothes.These tassels can be hanging out at the bottom of their shirts or tucked into their slacks.
Why do people wear such things as crosses and tassels?Is it just to proclaim that they are of a certain religion an out ward show to others?
Well I guess that's one reason but do you know that when you wear such things you are expected to act in certain ways? You are no longer allowed to treat people in a cruel fashion when your wearing a cross.This outward sign of faith is also suppose to be a reminder to us that we are called to a higher position that we are servants of God and as such have certain rules of conduct to follow other wise wearing a cross or tassels is a misrepresentation of our beliefs and an insult to God.
Most priest wear white collars with their black or grey shirts.These collars are not just around their necks so people can identify them as religious leaders they are also a symbol of being a slave to God and not to ones own free will.Like a slave you were bought at a price by Jesus death and you have chosen a life where he will be your master.
Symbols like crosses,tassels and collars are there to remind us who we are.If we say we are followers of certain things then we are no longer allowed to act in ways that are contrary to what our symbols tell the world.
Being a nurse I can tell you most people like it when I dress in white for some reason it seems more professional in their minds and white is a symbol in the medical profession that you are clean and there to help.White says you are a comfort in times of pain.
The cap I received when I graduated nursing school is the symbol of a maid or servent,since this is what women wore back in the 1800's when they took care of the sick and dying in hospitals and wards.You were and still are considered a servant to any one in need and you do everything that is needed to aid in another persons comfort to the best of your scope of knowledge and practice.
We all must be very careful what we choose to wear because if your not willing to walk the walk and talk the talk then you have to reconsider why you are wearing what you are wearing.
Once you put a cross around your neck much is expected from you but how much are you willing to give for that symbol? Are you willing to take on the role of being a Christian or just wear the symbol?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

I'm Sorry,So Sorry

I spent most of yesterday trying to avoid this whole Tiger Woods apology.It seems no matter where I went it was on a T.V. somewhere and there was no escaping this issue all day long.
In my mind whats between Tiger and his wife and family is just that between them.
I really don't care how many women he slept with and who he should or should not be saying he's sorry to.
This is a man who was groomed to be the perfect person with the perfect home life,which none of us could have lived up to so the fall was especially hard on all those who bought into the fairy tale which was to be his life.
You know most people do not understand that just saying I'm sorry,even to the world on the air waves means nothing with out the follow through of not doing it again and making amends.
This is what confession is all about its not just saying your sorry to God but then trying to change because you understand that what you did was wrong and has consequences to yourself and those around you.
If you just say I'm sorry but make no corrections you really have learned nothing from the situation and are doomed to repeat it.
I have to give the man credit for being open but hopefully he is doing this not because he wants to be famous again,and this news apology will make it all right, but because he is truly sorry to his family and spouse.Maybe this is his opportunity to embrace his Buddhist religion and try again.
We all get to the point in our lives where we're heading for a train wreak and most of us have to hit the wall before we understand what we are doing is going to kill us physically,mentally and or spiritually.
When we are out of control so are the lives of others around us.We may think that we're only hurting ourselves through our thoughtless pleasure seeking but we are hurting our family and friends.They see what we are doing and can do nothing to help us but watch until we,hopefully,wake up.
There is nothing wrong with making mistakes,we are human,but its correcting those mistakes that take the fore front.Words mean nothing,actions mean everything.
If we do not respect our selves how can we expect others to respect us.
Sometimes the best thing we can do is realize that we are not always in control of our selves and that's where God comes in.We need to see that without his love and guidance we are nothing but urges,thoughts,desires and feelings.
True religious love means to love our neighbors and do good.When it becomes all about us we lose sight of the fact that we are no longer concerned about the people around us and their lives we are now self centered and definitely unchristian.
So for Tigers sake I hope he has found his train wreak point and will now put into action what he professed in words becoming a better Buddhist person to himself and those around him.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Elton Says "Jesus is Gay"

Today while listening to TV.I heard that Elton John made a statement that he felt Jesus was a compassionate super intelligent gay man who forgave even on the cross..
I have to tell you I've thought about Jesus in many different ways.The good Shepard,a Jewish Rabi and the son of God but I must admit that I have never though of Jesus as a gay man.
I suppose Elton John feels that Jesus needs to fill his life in some way and that being Gay himself,he feels closer to God by thinking Jesus is gay.Sounds sacrilegious to me but then who am I to judge his beliefs even if I feel they are wrong.
I have been told that Christians are to love each other and we are all mothers,brothers,sisters and fathers to each other.I think Jesus was talking about the human race as loving one another in a non sexual love which means both men and women should be looked at not as sexual beings but as family members.
It's good to hear someone in the public eye say something good about Jesus and religion but this does stretch the imagination a bit far.
Back in the 1980's I can remember watching a movie about two priest,one older and one younger.In the movie the younger priest makes the remark that Jesus was gay because in the bible at the last supper St.John lays his head on Jesus chest and is called "the one Jesus loved."
Any thing can be taken out of context especially the bible.Interpretations can be conformed to fit any situation a person wants it to.Its done all the time,that's why its important to have a good religious father or minister to help you understand the real meaning of what your reading,anything less is an affront against God.
My priest always says that what is contained in the bible are all the things that are important for us to know anything else is not for us to worry about because if it was it would have been added.
I think Elton needs to take the time to find a good church and sit down with a minister or priest and discuss the bible it may be a good way for him to understand and start out on a religious search of understanding Jesus and God.Some times religious curiosity has to start somewhere and maybe this is his starting point to greater knowledge.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My Shepard

Tuesday after my nurses meeting my friend Deb and I went to her house to kill some time until we were due for an appointment later in the afternoon.
When we drove into her yard I asked if we could go down and see her horse Buddy.
As we walked toward the barn Buddy heard us and put his head out of the upper part of the stall door.
Deb went and spoke with him and rubbed his nose to which he affectionately rubbed up against her.When he seemed settled I put my hand out under his mouth and slowly started to pet him.He seemed glad to have me pet him but was a little unsure of me and stayed guarded.
This evening we had our Wed.evening liturgy held at St. Nicholas church just over two streets from our own St. Michael.
At the time when Fr. John was getting ready to start communion I thought to my self how odd it always is to me when ever I hear a different priest.It never really feels like a service unless Fr.Peter is saying it.
I began to think about the good Shepard and how somewhere in the bible it talks about the Good Shepard knowing his sheep and his sheep knowing him.
Then it hit me why it always seems odd when Fr. Peter is not saying the service because I need to hear his voice,its comforting and helps me get into my spiritual mood.
I like buddy can politely listen to someone else but in the end know I need to hear my own Shepard's voice to feel truly at ease.

Constant State of Motion

Have you ever had one of those weeks were it seems like you are not in control of your life but your life is in control of you?
In the past five days I have worked four days and gotten out late each day,attended a coffee house at our church,went to a wake for a friends grandmother followed by a meal,attended a nurses meeting,shoveled snow,grocery shopped,did dishes and laundry and tonight will be attending a Lenten Service.
Now in between all this I have missed out on things I should be doing related to pure exhaustion.
During Lent I have been trying to work on my fasting with so so results,my evening meditations and readings with little results and on attending Fr. Peter's Chapel Service at the museum with no results.
I know that the best way to run ones life is to organize but I must say this is not always possible when time and demands on you are not on your side.
I understand that all things need to be scheduled especially time with God and when you miss once then it becomes harder and harder to get it together again and follow the narrow path and let me tell you the path can seem pretty narrow at times.
It upsets me when the time I plan to be with God is interrupted by daily demands and when I pray while laying in bed I realize I have fallen asleep.I'm sure that gives God that warm fuzzy feeling.Kind of like the three apostles in the garden falling asleep on Jesus after he asked them to stay awake and pray.Kind of disappointing I guess,the spirit is willing but the body is weak.
When I was at work Monday I did not leave until almost 5:30 pm.One of the second shift nurses said "I know your a workaholic but go home all ready!"
I am the type of person who has to see everything through and get it done right the first time.I have never considered my self a workaholic and at times think myself to be a bit lazy.
I guess my birth sign the centaur fits me being half man and half horse but between you and me I've always considered my self more of a Thoroughbred then a plow mule.
In France they have a draught horse called the "Comtois" funny that's my maiden name,well maybe there is something to be said for this hard working low to the ground plow animal.Lets face it its hard to walk away from your family name.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

DNR/DNI

How many people out there know what DNR/DNI means?
If your like most people you probably do not and that's sad because someday these abbreviations will become very important to you or a loved one.You may be put in the position of having to make this very difficult decision.
DNR means "do not resuscitate" and DNI means "do not intubate",In other words do not do CPR on me to the bitter end or put a tube down my throat or hook me to a machine that will continue to breath for me even if I'm brain dead.
When an emergency happens to you,or a loved one, this is not the time to figure out what your wishes are.
In all the visits that you have had with your doctor have you ever once told him exactly what it is that you want done when you are not conscious to make decisions? Have you told your family members or loved ones? Do you know that when you are not concise someone needs to make these decisions and if you have nothing in place the medical team will do everything they can to sustain your life even if you have no life left,they have to.
Here in Connecticut we have what is called a "Living Will".You tell your doctor exactly what it is you what him/her to do for you in the event you are not able to speak for yourself.At anytime you can change the rules as you feel the need to,Even if your already at the hospital on a stretcher,nothing is set in stone.
What you want done for you at say age 20 may not be what you want done for you at age 70 so changes are always allowed.
Most people do not like to talk about these things,there depressing and more easily ignored but this becomes very cruel to the loved one who is faced with decisions of ending or prolonging your care.
Since I work in the health care profession I have to help people make these types of care decisions almost weekly.Usually we try to set in place with the patients and family members exactly how far we will go to prolong this persons life.
No decision is a wrong decision if you want to be on a ventilator fed through tubes and machines that is just as correct as wanting to be allowed to die with comfort measures only(CMO).
My husband has been told by me,many times,that prolonging my life just to prolong it is really not an option for me.I have spoken with a Catholic priest many years ago, who worked with sick and dying patients,and he told me allowing nature to take its course is just as correct as using artificial means to keep a body alive.Both are acceptable in the eyes of the church.
I feel that if the time should come my husband knows where I stand.Do what you can for me but don't prolong my existence artificially.Being a Christian I believe that God has put me here for a certain length of time and when its my time to go home he will take me no matter what machine I'm hooked up to,he supersedes the world order.
Having a health care proxy written up with your wishes signed by you,your doctor and your family member is a way to allow your family to have no guilt when the decisions they make on your behalf are followed through,they are not guessing what you want they know what you want.
Next time your at your doctors office take the time to ask him/her to jot down what your feeling are on your end of life situations,if for some reason you are unable to speak for your self.Also ask about a health care proxy and how to go about setting one up. Trust me your doctor will appreciate the fact that your helping him/her and your family members make the choices when you are no longer able to say what you want.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

My Father

Four years ago my father passed away on Valentines morning and even still I have mixed feeling about this day,I have happiness for it yet also feel very sad at the same time.
From the time I can remember I was my fathers tag along.For the first nine years of my life everywhere he went I was with him.From the connivance store,to the barber shop and even the town dump.
My father loved the outdoors he could sit in the yard drinking his coffee and smoking his cigarettes for hours.He was a hands on kind of guy and could work on anything,figure it out then fix it.Even if it meant Jimmy Rigging it.In the end it always seemed to work like new.
When I was young going places with my father was like an adventure and sometimes on our Sunday rides,after church and lunch,it was.See neither of my parents had a very good sense of direction and getting lost was a great possibility,you never knew where you would end up or what time you would get home.My father would pull out of the driveway and my little sister would say "daddy are we lost yet?" Out of the mouths of babes
My father would take me fishing,boating,ice skating and sledding.
Together we cut down cut down small trees,mowed grass,raked and jumped in leaf piles(he did most of the raking and I must of the jumping.)
I watched him donate his time to friends and work on things in their homes then turn around and say "you don't own me anything" or "pay me when you can".
I learned from my father that men are important people and I could be friends with them and love them in different ways.Giving me another view of the world.
When I was in High School I had many male friends and now in my life as a nurse I am able to lead and direct men in the correct ways to do things and not feel intimidated by them.I can honestly say I understand where they are coming from and even when I have to disagree with them on issues,I always try to respect their positions.
Because of my fathers' love and friendship I can say my husband is my best friend and together we are good co workers on most projects and issues.
My father taught me what a husband should be to a wife and that we all need to give and take.Its not always going to be your way but if you love someone you can work it out to a compromise for both sides.
My father taught me to respect and love others and that nothing is more important then family. thanks dad for what you gave in character and love that has helped me to be who I am today.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Fasting

Well believe it or not we are moving into the fasting period again,my how time flies by.
First I want to start by saying fasting,although encouraged by the Orthodox Church is really a discipline not an order.
The church encourages its members to try and follow the fast to the best of their ability.Not everyone is able to follow strictly to the rules but that is why we have Spiritual Fathers to help us along our path to do the best we can.
During Lent we are called to change our selves and hopefully try to be better more Christian people.Fr.Peter says "if your going to fast and be cruel to others then you may as well eat the hamburger cause you haven't achieved anything." Words to live by.
So just changing our dietary consumption is not all there is to Lent we must also consider what we can do to help others even if its nothing more then smiling and listening to another persons whoas.You know its not all about us and our pain.It's so much more.
With that said it is also about our own spiritual growth.Every year I have several books I read nightly and try to follow up with meditation and prayer but I must tell you this year I feel very overwhelmed with all the things I want to do spiritually. It seems impossible for me to figure out where to place each thing through out my day.
This probably is not a bad thing because I also feel excited and can't wait to start each and every one of them and hopefully make them a habit...We'll see..
Food is a small thing in my spiritual life.I look at fasting like I look at a diet each day I try to follow the rules but in times of true weakness I will give in,I always do.Then the next day I will start over and give it another try.
Last year I tried to make myself eat better and if I was going to eat carbohydrates I tried for whole wheat and whole grain and added soy to my diet for replacement of milk products,its no milk but then its not suppose to be.
This year I will also try for more fruit and vegetables and if all works out well maybe I may even drop a few pounds or at least not gain any weight.
So with excitement I enter this fasting period and hope to come out the other side a better person.I guess ...we'll see about that too...
Happy Fasting......

Having Children Late In Life

This morning I heard of a study which shows autism is greater in parents past the age of 35 then in younger parents.This study says it is not just the mothers age but also the fathers age,though to a lesser extent, which helps to increase the incidence of autism,not that younger parents do not have this same problem.
Back before women had jobs and careers outside the home,Most woman married at a much younger age and since the point in marriages during say my mothers time was to procreate they had most of their children by their mid to late 30's.
With my generation came the pill,women's movement and emphasis on jobs and careers more then family life,many women chose to have their children later in life and opted for no more then two since we were also concerned about over population and the destruction of our resources.
Women at this time were told we could have it all and be good at it.A very large promise if you ask me.
Now my son generation,who are now in their thirties, were the result of my generation.With our need for it all they in turn are no longer opting for one child. Many are having three or more children but still at later ages and with the help of fertility drugs,borrowed sperm,eggs and surrogate mothers.
When ever we come up with the abilities to change Mother Nature we come up with issues.Things like fertility shots to increase egg production all have a price as we grow older.
God made our bodies to produce eggs and sperm at a certain age,there is a reason for us to have children in our twenties rather then our forties.
The marvels of medicine and the abilities of our doctors is nothing less then inspiring.With that said though not all things are meant for all people at every age group.
Just because we have the technology to have a child at say age 50 or 60 should we be doing this.With the averages of our children health being stacked against us every year we age,should some form of common sense be encouraged.
My grandmother had ten children her ninth child was mentally disabled with the abilities of a four year old.Although she was greatly loved by our family she also out lived both her parents,all her siblings and spent her last years living with my cousin.Luckily my Aunt came from a large family which could accommodate her through out her life.Back when she was born there was no place to send your disabled children to be educated or cared for in a proper,loving manner.
Every pregnancy involves risk.We are not guaranteed children with out problems nor should we be since all our children teach us and help us grow and appreciate the world around,like a special flower in a beautiful garden.
My mother was 38 years old when my sister was born.She weighed 2 pound 5 ounces and was born 4 months to Early.My sister spent months in the hospital in an incubator and due to the lights and oxygen has always had very poor eyesight.My mother almost hemorrhaged to death and needed several blood transfusions to keep her alive.
After my sister was born my parents decided it was time to stop having children.My father said "when the life of your spouse or child is at stake due to your age it is time to stop and be grateful for what you have not what you want."
He should know because his sister was mentally challenged and he understood the great measures his own patent's had to take to raise this special women.
I am a firm believer in common sense and just because you desire something does not always mean it is in the best interest of you or future generations.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Tears

We live in a world where tears are not encouraged.We are taught to get over our grief and move on.We have gotten so uneasy with the sight of someone crying we do not know what to do when we see tears and in some ways consider it a possible character weakness.
Back in the 1980's women would say "I want a sensitive man one who is not afraid to cry".I do not think this rings true today.
In the religious world tears are considered a good thing we can be said to have "the gift of tears".Some people during prayer,liturgy or meditations can begin to weep tears.They just roll down their faces or well up in their eyes.
It is such an important act that it is mentioned in the New Testament Twice that Jesus cried.First when his friend Lazarus died and next when he entered into Jerusalem and knew they were doomed.
Tears are a way of bringing what can not be said to light.It offers us as a real person and shows our true emotions.Nothing can speak louder then the silence of tears.
Jesus said when I make you well I will take your heart of stone and give you a heart of feeling.This does not mean just happy feelings it means deep soul searching emotional feelings.
Now being born not only a female but a French female tends to make my heart feel for many in very deep ways.I have days where I can actually say I feel the pain of others,I can feel many crying out in the world and this pain is settled in my heart.
Prayer usually helps me to diminish these feelings and sometimes meditation and tears help me feel what it is to have empathy with others.And although this can be a very draining experience it allows me to feel as if God has just shared with me a small piece of his all encompassing love for all of us.
We all have different gifts and as such God expects us to use them.I know that we all would like the gift of making money,But what is money? Its only paper,tears,on the other hand,are a part of our heart and soul and these are real and worth much more.

Memorial Service

This morning at the nursing home we will be holding a memorial service for a friend who was killed tragical given by her friend who felt it was just wrong to not help her be laid to rest,if only in our minds and hearts.
Last night after Adult Education I stopped at Big Y,the local grocery store,and picked up some pasty for after the service.This morning I took out my nurse cap sitting in it clear glass case,to bring with me,see the deceased was an RN and in the fire everything was lost.
I plan on setting up a table with some small snapshots of her,getting some flowers or plants together and putting my cap on the table in remembrance of her life,cut short.
Services are really for the living not the dead.The dead have moved on to hopefully bigger and better but the living need to say goodbye and come to some sort of peace be it of mind or heart and if lucky maybe both.
When St.Francis of Assisi was dying he asked to be stripped naked because he wanted to die owning nothing,just has Jesus had,but the head fairer said "Bother I order you to wear my garment since it is borrowed you will still own nothing." and so he died on the ground in a borrowed robe.
So I guess this service is also a borrow,since we do not have her body or any of her personal belongings.We will remember her with the things we allow her to borrow from us and in the end that's kind of a special thing.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Adult Education

Tonight in Adult education class at St. Micheal we learned about the standings of the church on issues like homosexuality,transsexuals and sex changes.
Now we all know where the Orthodox and most other churches stand on these subject.Basically "just say no".
OK. now that's how the church it self feels but we as Christians are called to love and understand our neighbors.As Fr. Peter always says "we are not here to judge and we need to hate the sin not the sinner".
We live in a fallen world and as such we are all fallen in our own way.With that said we can not denounce our brothers and sisters and not look at our own sins.
True our church gives us leadership and if this was a perfect world we would not face these sorts of issues but not being a perfect person myself I can not expect anyone else to be perfect.
When you choose to join a religon it is understood that it comes with rules,regulations and guidelines.These things help us to try and put our best selves forward.Showing the world that being a christian means something.Its not just a word its a lifestyle.
Now some of us have less trouble with certain rules then others but in the end we are to strive to make our corrections in our lives and try as hard as we can to get back on the right path.
Father says "if we come to confession and do not really believe what we are confessing or do not feel sorry for what we did then we have just wasted our time".
So what do we do? We do the best we can. We love our neighbor,be understanding to each other and realize we are all human and will fall down repeatedly.The important part is are we willing to get up and try again.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Antiques

Tuesday morning I awoke,rolled over in bed and looked at my alarm clock.9:50 am!
How could this be? Is my clock broken? I could not even remember the last time I slept this late.Suddenly it all come back to me.
The day before,Monday morning I called my friend Laura to join me for breakfast and a little girl talk.
So after picking her up,running some errands then finally getting to the restaurant. We sat down and did what girls do best,talked about our families and friends.
For some reason our conversation turned to oil and water paintings.
I told her how Putnam Ct.was becoming very artsy and hanging around this small Main Street town was becoming fun.
With this in mind,we decided to head to Putnam to walk the small stores and admire the view.
We parked by the train station and headed to "The Victoria Cafe" so I could show her my dream coffee house.Inside its multi levels where arm chairs,old fashioned Victorian sofas and three electrical fireplaces.
Then came its eye catching large wooden coffee bar with mouth watering pastries under glass covers.Now that's a coffee cafe.
As we walked out the door the wind began to pick up,So we decided to head to the corner antique store,which I knew Laura would appreciate as much as I.
Inside we walked passed the first floor went straight up the stairs to the second floor for an antiquers dream.
Here in front of us stood two floors jammed pack with antiques... everywhere...
You name it and chances are you would see it. Everything from paintimgs to Victrolas,furniture to a wooden bathtub.
As we admired the photographs lining the stairwell one picture in particular stood out.It was of a young girl, during the 1900's, with a new hat near a mirror.The caption read "A picture of a girl with a new hat".
My how times have changed! Imagine having a picture taken after buying a new hat.How special this hat must have been to her.You knew from this picture that this hat would last a lifetime.Not something to be thrown in a closet and forgotten about but truly lovingly taken care of.Probably put in a special hat box to be worn with a pretty hat pin.Imagine her pride wearing her pretty bustled dress showing it off at all her special functions maybe even wearing it to church on Sundays for all to view and admire.
After what seemed like an hour we decided it was time for lunch and much to our surprise the clock on the wall read 3:45 pm,we had not been there for one hour but for almost three hours.
Funny how the best days are the ones you don't plan but the ones you allow yourself to be absorbed by.