Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Day Of Beauty

I'm not sure why,maybe it was because a bird was singing in the tree near my bedroom window,or the fact that the sun was shining through the curtains.
But what every it was I just knew today would be a wonderful day.
After lazily getting out of bed and having a cup of coffee it came to my mind that I needed to get my life in some sort of order,starting today.
Could it be the fact that Christmas is now over and a New Year is upon us that has me so ready to make significant changes to my life.
I sat down with pen and paper and began to write all of my thoughts down.
Like a river stopped up by a beaver dam,which has broken its boundaries,the gushing fourth of ideas filled my brain so quickly I could not write it all down.
My heart feeling has light has that tiny bird singing me awake.
Change screamed in my head new job,more savings,more exercise,better diet,less clutter..More Organization!!
This was a day of great things with joy in my heart so bright it almost all seemed possible.
My task interrupted by a phone call from a friend asking me about taking a walk and going out to lunch,How perfect,an idea that fit right into my need for health and peace.
The walk in the sunshine lightened all the heavy,dreary thought that winter had thrust on my spirit.
A Disney kind of day,to say the least
Off to lunch for quite girl talk,then to a going out of business sale.
Home to dishes and supper but happiness still filling my soul.
A day so perfect created by God himself to bring joy to all his creatures of whom I am one.
Praise God for such elation and beauty.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Physical Today

Today was my yearly physical,I really need to schedule these things before the holidays.
Have you exercised,the man in the white coat ask? no,unless you call shopping,wrapping,cooking,cleaning and entertaining exercise..I have not.
Hows you eating habits? pretty bad doctor,unless you consider sugar part of the food pyramid,its pretty bad.
Hows your stress levels been? Your blood pressure is higher then I like.Doctor if you consider I have not stopped thinking about what I need to do next, every minute of everyday since November the 23rd and am running on pure adrenaline,part of mental relaxation,I guess that's not good either.
Well,the man tells me,you should consider walking or how about riding a bike,I love to ride mine.
Doctor unless you plan to put a plow in the front of my bike,I'm thinking that's not happening for me.
You know,he says,they sell these ski like things you can attach to the front of your bike,I'd get some myself if my wife would let me.
Doctor we need to get off the bikes,I see no reason to ride one in the summer so I guess the winter is off limits,in my mind anyways.
Did you have a good Christmas,was Santa good to you this year?
Yes,I tell him he was,but then my birthday is in late November and I sort of get one big gift from my Santa after my Birthday and before Christmas.
Really he says my wife was born in January she has the same issue.
Was your Holidays good? Yes I tell him,considering I worked them.
So anyways he says your blood pressure is higher then I'd like.
Me too.. Doctor... me too...

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Two Josephs,One Jesus

Today is December the 26Th the first Sunday after the Nativity and also the day we commemorate Joseph the Betrothed.
Has we come to this Sunday after Christmas day we take the time to celebrate Saint Joseph the man entrusted with the protection and rearing of our Savior.
Not much is known about this man or the great effects he had on this child Jesus.
My mother used to say that a woman goes through the birth of a child and the man is congratulated on its arrival.
But like most fathers and step fathers little credit is given to their hard work and responsibility for the raising of a child.
We seem to forget how influential Joseph was and to say he was not a special man would be an understatement.
Joseph was thrown into a position of not only being engaged to a woman who he was to find out was pregnant,but also to have enough faith to believe that when an angel appeared to him in a dream,he was able to not only understand the importance of his dream but to follow through with what was being asked of him.
If not for St. Joseph this woman,Mary,at worst may have been stoned to death for being pregnant with out being married and at the least she and her child would have been outcast,entitlement to nothing by Jewish law and society.
They would have been the lowest of the low,probably beggar's in the streets.
In order for Jesus to have fulfilled the Jewish Laws he needed to be a Jewish man in good standing,which would not have happened had he been fatherless.
Joseph took on the role of father,husband and care taker to a child who would change the face of religion.
It is said that Joseph lived to be an old man,how old,that's disputable,since most men lived to be about 36 in those days,but no matter how old he was he lived long enough to raise Jesus to manhood before he died.
While at church this morning,the fact struck me that when Jesus was born his father,a man named Joseph,probably assisted with the cleaning and wrapping of this tiny baby's body which he held and laid in a wooden feed box.
After Jesus Crucifixion and death another older man,also named Joseph,went to the Governor Pilot to ask for and recover the body of Jesus.
At our Sunday liturgy,when the entry of the gifts are being brought the priest says:
Joseph an honorable man took your own pure body down from the wood,wrapped it in a clean linen and spices and laid him in a new tomb.
Both Josephs not only knew Jesus but they assisted him in his time of need.
One assisted with bringing him into the world with dignity and the other assisted with bringing him out of the world with the same dignity.
I once read that to wash and wrap the body of a dead person is the greatest act of compassion one person can do for another.
Its considered selfless because what you are giving can not be repaid by the person you are giving this gift to.
It seems both Josephs were compassionate men who understood the importance of living up to what would become their destinies, both gave their love,compassion and protection to Jesus.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Not Standing For The Pledge Of Allegiance

This morning while watching the news,there was an interview with a Massachusetts school official who,after 7 years,has sent letters home with his students for permission from their parents to allow them to say the pledge of allegiance in class.
The official said that he wanted to reinstate the practice of pledging but since he did not want to offend any one he decided to send slips home,for permission first.
He said that at present even some of the teachers do not choose to do this pledge so they also do not stand up.
All right here's the thing in my mind,if you choose not to recite the pledge fine,but a teacher,should at the very least,stand up.
Funny how these same people who do not respect our flag have no problem cashing their pay checks or accepting vacation and holiday paid time off,provided for by both state and Federal funds,whose flag you are being asked to respect.
If you are so disrespectful to the country that employs you and pays your health insurance maybe its time to find a job in the private sector,who by the way,will require a lot more from you then to simply pledge a flag and will have no problem firing you for disrespecting their corporation.
To not respect the flag is to also not respect all those who died in wars so you could have the right to "not stand up" because of your so called freedom.

Christ Birth December The 25Th?

We are all raised to believe that Jesus was born on December the 25Th,but more then likely this was not true.
According to the gospel of Luke 2:8 "There were in the same country Shepard's living out in the fields,keeping watch over their flocks by night".
This in our present day minds does not seem like an issue.
What we do not understand is the reason the Shepard's were watching their sheep was because it was eweing time and they needed to guard the mothers and babies from wolves and predators.
Flocks usually give birth to the lambs in the spring time by December the flock would he housed in an enclosed field and possibly put in stables during the colder months.
Also according to the strict religious rules followed by Mary's Jewish sect,children were usually born in the months of March related to their rules on when possible conceptions could take place.
It is believed by some religious scholars that Jesus was probably born somewhere around March 18Th to March 28Th.
The date of December the 25Th was picked because at the times the pagan world celebrated winter solstice and there was no better way to play down the pagan beliefs at that time,then to play up a Christian aspect of the season.
So by rights we should be celebrating Jesus birth around the time of Lent and Easter,how confusing would that be?
One day you would say Merry Christmas and several days later you would be going through Lent and Easter.
Christ is born,oops sorry, Christ is dead,but wait Christ is risen..
Talk about bipolar.
I guess December the 25Th is pretty good choice after all.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Right Time

Last night I started reading a book,borrowed from a friend,on Mary and Visions of saints.
When John the Baptist came he was considered to be the last Prophet.We Orthodox consider him to be the end of the Old Testament days and Jesus to be the start of our New Testament.
The Jewish people,on the other hand, believe that no more Prophets came once the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed.
So basically we all agree that there are no more Prophets but even with that said we still believe in people who have visions and dreams.
We understand that God still speaks to each of us and maybe some people are just more in tuned with whats being said and can more clearly gain knowledge of what the rest of us have not fully learned to focus in on.
The first chapter in this book speaks of Joachim and Ana,Mary parents.
Seems Ana was a teenager and her new husband was a middle aged person when they met and married.
Many years passed and although they prayed,tithe and did good works,they just could not seem to have a child.
This was very important to them because according Jewish custom children were a blessing and the more you had the more blessed you were.
Being married for so many years with out a child told the community that they were spiritually wrong and God would not favor them with a blessing.
They began to pray more fervently then one day an angel appeared to Ana and told her she was to have a child.
Like most women in her situation she could not understand why God had chosen her,in such a late part of her life to finally have a child.
The angel explained to her that all things that would make up the completed picture were not yet in place.
Funny isn't it how we always want what we want when we want it but do not understand that what we do is not just about our actions but about a bigger picture.
If Ana had Mary 14 years earlier,Joseph,Mary's future husband,may not have been old enough or mature enough to accept Mary has an unwed pregnant person.
Also Jesus was meant to be born at a certain time in history and for his mother to be born to early would mean she would be the wrong age to have had Jesus.
This was not about random chance.
We are not privy to the full picture and we should try not to be to down on ourselves because things do not happen on our schedule.
The Jews have a saying that when you save one person you save an entire population of future people.
God does not work on any fixed time.He sees and understands the entire picture and how all people parts fit into each other.
To Him the picture is large scale and uniform,global planning,so to speak, and that you must admit,is pretty impressive.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Tis The Season To Be ..Stressed...

Today is December the 20Th and as of this day I am done Christmas shopping.
Now comes the hard part sorting,wrapping and giving.
Although December the 25Th always falls on December the 25Th,it just seems like it crept up on me again.
Now how did that happen?
To much stuff to do in one month,I feel as if my holiday running started three days before Thanksgiving and is only now starting to wind down.
Every year I vow I will start my holiday baking and decorating earlier so as not to be over taken by the Holiday Season,but alas no such luck another resolution broken.
This morning was a nice day I got to spend some quality,slow down time just talking with a friend and regaining my proper prospective of the holiday season.
Tomorrow I will be visiting my elderly Aunt and spending some time with her.
This time of year we spend so much time running and doing we forget the real reason for the season is to spend quite,value time with the people we love.Those we do not always get to see through out the year,but miss dearly and are now able to finally reconnect with.
To much stress and running around puts us in the position of being to tired to realize that slowing down is needed.
God sent us his own beloved son to teach us about peace on earth,which starts when there is peace in us.
We all have different Christmas traditions,started in our childhood.
Some of use got many gifts,some few.Some opened our presents orderly while others dug right in and ripped through everything like a pack of wild dogs devouring a dead caucus.
In the end when all the gifts were opened and the thank yous passed around,the most important part of our days were spent just talking,laughing,eating and maybe even playing board or card games with each other.
Whether we are a large or small group on this Holy day of Christmas we are all together so we can celebrate the joy of the baby Jesus,who chose to come into this world and bring us all peace,joy and love.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Oh Christmas Tree,Our Christmas Tree..

My husband and I both like real Christmas Trees.
Coming down the stairs every morning with the smell of pine waffling through the parlor is almost like getting reacquainted with a long lost friend.
The years we have had artificial trees,although beautiful,just never truly feel like Christmas,something just seems missing.
Having a very small parlor does not allow for a very big tree,most real trees are all to wide and the last time we had a full size live tree, I had to literally trim all the branches with a saw,to make it fit in its selected spot.
Last year while looking through a magazine I came across a picture of a Christmas tree,about three feet tall sitting in an ice bucket on a table.
Eureka! our problem was solved and so began my search for an ice bucket.
After several days of looking from upscale stores to antique shops,it became clear to me that ice buckets were no linger in Vogue,Now what?
One day while wondering around T.J.Maxx,I came across a very lovely white ceramic trash can,which to my surprise worked out very nicely.
This year,with great confidence and no container issue,all I needed was to find a suitable tree.
Two days of searching,then stopping at Loews,there sat my perfect tree,a little small but the price range was acceptable and it just seemed "Right".
Best of all it had its own little plastic base,which I though would not only fit nicely into the awaiting ceramic stand,but add to its stability.
When I awoke on Friday morning I asked my husband if he could take a little off the bottom of the tree base,so has to allow the little fellow, to get water through out the holiday season,thus helping to keep it fresh.
With that problem out of my way I took my shower for my upcoming day's events.
Has I was dressing I heard a very odd noise coming from outside,the commotion seemed to get louder as I approached and opened the front door.
At the bottom of our steps stood my husband with a small prey bar in hand beating,the plastic stand into submission,trying to get the nail out of the tree base.
Pieces of red plastic flying in every direction and words unfitting for the Holiday Season coming out of his mouth.
When he regained his composer,he looked up and saw me,steering down at him from the top step,none to happy with his out burst.
He smiled and said,here's your tree,where do you want it?
Ah another year of interesting events with the tree.
Some years the lights don't work,the tree falls over,the most treasured bulbs break,this year a spike refused to relent.
Why do we torture our selves over a tree that sits in our homes for less then six weeks?
How many hours,combined with frustrations,do we spend in the end to achieve the perfect Christmas Tree?
What is it about this piece of nature,that when lite up,brings us such joy?
The happiness we gain by simply sitting near it drinking our hot chocolate,watching the lights twinkle,remembering all our special ornaments,has the quite winter evening envelopes us with peace.
Before we know it,sadness fills us as the Christmas season ends and we dismantle and put it all away.
Like the departure of a comforting friend,whose visit leaves us some what sad and a bit lost.
Another love/hate relationship draws to a close only to reappear again next December.

Invitation To Come In

Every practicing Jew has a small box on the front door frame of his house.In side the box is a parchment will several prescribed prayers written on it.
When entering the house a person is to touch the box to remind themselves that they are now home and when they enter their house they are entering their own private temple,they may now leave the rest of the world at the door step.
When I was growing up we always had a picture of Jesus on our kitchen wall and a crucifix in the parlor,with smaller versions in each bedroom and hall way.
In a sense just like the Jews of old,we were also inviting God to come and reside with us,in a very outward way.
In my own house we have two crosses in our parlor,three icons,one of Jesus,one of Mary and one of St.Victor and several christian type pictures of Jesus with a lamb.
In our bedroom we have about 5 pictures of Jesus that for what ever reason,just seemed to catch my eye and I find them very spiritual when I stop and look at them.
This may seem very overwhelming to most people,but the size of each picture varies so has not to seem over done.
In a sense we have also invited God into our home,even if we didn't realize it when we put these pictures up.
People who our not Catholic or Orthodox would probably consider such things to be idolatry,but they are not.
They are reminders to me that in order to have God centered in our everyday lives we need to have him around us in our every day temple,called home.
If we are not allowed the freedom we need to be able to see such things then how will we be reminded who to give thanks to for all we have around us in our homes and lives.
Families are the most important part of our lives.
We create our families because God created us and he knows we are not solitary beings.We are strengthened by the love we are given and give to each family member.
When I was young my mother had a picture of Jesus knocking at the door.He is not an intrusive God and we need to be polite enough to make it clear to him our home is truly his home,no knocking necessary.
An invitation to God to enter our homes shows him that we understand our most important place in this world and God is the real head of our families just has he is the real head of our churches.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Jim Morrison: Maybe A Pardon

Let me start by saying happy belated birthday to the late Jim Morrison of the doors born December 8,1943.
Today in the news paper was a story of how the Governor of Florida is trying to get the votes needed form the Executive Clemency Board to pardon Jim for a 1969 indecent exposure conviction.
The Governor claims he doubts that Morrison exposed himself during a rowdy Miami concert on March first 1969.(the Govenor has more faith in Jim then I
Morrison left the United States to go to France,several years later,he overdosed and was found dead in a bath tub.
I must admit I do like most of Jim and the Doors music,yes he was a talented bad boy but so are many rock musicians once they hit their peak.
To much booze,to much drugs and no self control.
Morrison was a troubled rebel who had an obsession with death and the after life.
Once when he was a child he drove by an accident with his family and saw the bodies of some dead Indians,this stuck with him and it played in the back of his mind for the rest of his life.
Its hard to defend someone bent on killing them selves but I just happen to like the man and maybe his morbid curiosity of death is something that touches each and everyone of us in some secret way,like an Edgar Allen Poe story of the Makab.
We all wonder what it would be like to "break on through to the other side"not just emotionally or mentally but physically.
So with the vote hanging in the air I think "Jimbo",has my husband calls him,will get his pardon,but even so he will always be that bad wild man of music who left us some pretty great songs and some pretty bad ones as well.
Here's to you Jim,happy belated Birthday big guy,from one fire sign to another.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Nation Of Schizophrenics

We are a nation of schizophrenics.
On the one hand we all want to be rich and live the good life and on the other hand we profess to hate the wealthy because they are to rich,to powerful and to greedy.
I can tell you for a fact that I don't know anyone,who if you offered them ten million dollars,at this moment, would not take the money and run.
Not to mention buy every greedy piece of merchandise they could put their hands on.
A big house,new vehicles maybe a boat and all kinds of electrical gadgets.
Today the news was covered with all the reasons why the president should not have caved into the demands that the tax cut on all Americans,including the wealthy,should have stayed in place.
We are in a bad state of affairs right now and if keeping the tax credits the way they are helps rich people decide to hire poor people,then I say go for it.
Although I have to say that I,in some small respect, feel sorry for the president's need to agree and go along,I do not like him calling fellow Americans terrorist,especially when he wont even use that term on the real terrorist.
The one thing I have learned has I've gotten older is all things do not sit in my hands and all decisions about how this country is run are also not up to me.
We can only help those with whom we come in contact,in our small part of the world were we live our lives on a day to day basis.
Much as I would love to solve all of Americas problems,it is not in my ability to do so and getting upset about it changes nothing.
What can I do in this small corner of Connecticut?
Feed the poor through my church's community meal,cloth the naked by donating jackets,mittens and hats to local charities,up lift those who are falling down in despair by listening and caring,buy and give toys to seasonal drives for those children who may not receive any gifts on Christmas morning and donate money to charities whom I feel are doing good work.
Has a Christian that is what I'm called to do and any dent I make in any part of the society that revolves in my direction is a job well done,something congress,the senate and the President don't really seem to be making many cross roads into.
I can not save the world but I can save the parts closest to me and in that way cause a wave through out the lives of those placed in my path.
Helping one person allows you to help an entire community,because when you do one good thing for one person it enables that person to help someone else and so it goes a ripple in a pond of stillness carried through an entire body of water.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas Anxiety Begins

Another great day to be alive.
After working the week end,today I have an entire day of things to do,not to mention meeting a nurse Friend of mine for our once a year lunch.
Yesterday while at work I realized it was December the 5Th and only 19 more shopping days til Christmas,not to mention all the other things crammed into my schedule,like figuring out when we will be celebrating Christmas with my family,since I'm working both Christmas and New Years.
Also lets not forget numerous parties to attend,a play,community meal and when oh when do I decorate,wrap,entertain..its a night mare.
But you know what a bigger night mare is when do I stop and just celebrate the birth of Christ.
It has come to my attention that spending so much time worrying about the world around me and all my plans that I forget to put God first and the rest second.
That all sounds very good in theory but this time of year becomes a challenge because to live in God means to put all the rush and worry in my life second.
This is not natural to our nature,we tend to see our lives through what we think are our personal but not spiritual needs.
I'm not sure how I will overcome my ever increasing anxiety and worries of how everything will get done around me but maybe its time to make a list and attempt one thing at a time so has not to overwhelm my mind and bring me more peace for the truly important things like prayer,scripture and just plain contemplation.
The world turns ever faster and we are here for so short a period of time let us try to keep our priorities in line with the real meaning of Christmas and a chance for true peace on earth,like peace within our minds and spirits.