Saturday, April 30, 2011

Demeter and Persephone

So in this pleasant vale we stand again,
The field of Enna, now once more ablaze
With flowers that brighten as thy footstep falls,
All flowers -- but for one black blur of earth
Left by that closing chasm, thro' which the car
Of dark Aidoneus rising rapt thee hence.
And here, my child, tho' folded in thine arms,
I feel the deathless heart of motherhood
Within me shudder, lest the naked glebe
Should yawn once more into the gulf, and thence
The shrilly whinnyings of the team of Hell,
Ascending, pierce the glad and songful air,
And all at once their arch'd necks, midnight-maned,
Jet upward thro' the mid-day blossom. No!
For, see, thy foot has touch'd it; all the space
Of blank earth-baldness clothes itself afresh,
And breaks into the crocus-purple hour
That saw thee vanish.
(From Demeter and Persephone by Tennyson)

Butterfly on the lilacs
Apple Blossoms
My army of tick eaters

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Sandwich that Dreams are made of....

I mean that literally.
During Holy Week I dreamed about a big platter of sandwiches, on a table, in the front of our Church near the icon of John the Baptist
horrible photo quality from my cell- but to the right of the arch is the icon of Christ, and next to him is john the baptist. That is where the sandwiches were. in case you wanted a visual
The sandwiches consisted of Swiss Chard and goat cheese on rosemary focaccia bread.
I REALLY wanted one when I woke up, but being Holy Week I was still fasting from dairy. So, all week thoughts of these sandwiches impeded my thoughts.

It is now Bright Week and there is no more fasting, and I have been eating lots of goat cheese. Today I had time to bake focaccia bread. I noticed that I was running out of white flour, so I had to make it half white and half whole wheat. I used the Rosemary Focaccia  recipe from Real Mom Kitchen.
It turned out pretty well. I was liberal with pepper, and will use more rosemary next time...
The cat really wanted to eat it, and was not pleased with me when I told her to go away.

While the bread cooled off, I sauteed rainbow (because it is pretty!) swiss chard in olive oil and minced garlic..and added a bit of pepper (because I really like pepper!). I cut off a wedge of the focaccia and spread both sides with goat cheese, and added the hot swiss chard on top. (mmmm...melty)

I am happy to say that it lived up to the precedent my dream had set for how delicious it should be.
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Saturday, April 23, 2011

And then he was 9....

I cannot believe that this little baby...
Grew into this boy....

Who has a streak of a wild boy...

So quickly......

Happy Birthday Elijah...or shall I say Eli the Brave, or Smartacus?
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Awake and Elder Porphyrios on beauty

This morning I tried to sleep a little later, yet still woke up at 5:30.  Last night we attended the Great and Holy Friday services of Holy Week.
The kids went to Church at 11:00 in the morning for their annual retreat. They had a wonderful time and baked Prosphora bread
At 3:00 we came to get them and all went into the Church for thee Great Vespers and the Apokathelosis, and after we went to eat dinner. The children were very excited and talkative. 

When everyone finished eating we ran through the rain to get back to Church for the Great Saturday services of Lamentations and the Procession of the Epitatphios.   That finished after 10:30 and we got home after 11.  The kids headed straight to bed, and I wrapped my son's presents, because today is his 9th birthday.

I have to stop and say that my kids did amazingly well with the marathon of Church services we attended this week. Last night as I listened to my boys sing the Lamentations and watched the smiles on their faces as they explained the services to me (because they remember from previous years) and helping each other keep their places in the Holy Week books, my heart nearly burst.  

Tonight we go back to Church at 10:30 for the Paschal Liturgy and after the Liturgy and the Agape meal where we break our Lenten fast and eat meat (yay!!!!) we head back home. Usually we get home between 2 and 3 am.  This is why it is crazy that I only had 5 hours of sleep last night.
Naps will happen later today.
Please forgive all the grammatical errors within this post...I am rather foggy still.
Here is a quote from Elder Porphyrios that i came across yesterday and love.
“For a person to become a Christian he must have a poetic soul. He must become a poet. Christ does not wish insensitive souls in His company. A Christian, albeit only when he loves, is a poet and lives amid poetry. Poetic hearts embrace love and sense it deeply. Make the most of beautiful moments. Beautiful moments predispose the soul to prayer; they make it refined, noble, and poetic. Wake up in the morning to see the sun rising from out of the sea as a king robed in regal purple. [And then] go beyond this to give glory for all beautiful things so that you experience Him who alone is comely in beauty. All things are holy—the sea, swimming, and eating. Take delight in them all. All things enrich us, all lead us to the great Love, all lead us to Christ.”
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Thursday, April 21, 2011


I am not a morning person.
Some mornings getting out of bed feels like a major accomplishment, most likely because I stayed up too late the night before, unable to say goodbye to the day.
As I struggle to wake up and form coherent thoughts my children are miles ahead of me, especially my daughter. She wakes up and before her eyes are fully open the words begin to pour out of her mouth with barely a breath in between, so much she has to tell me after her 10 hours of being unable to do so.  I try to patiently listen and respond.

After some thought I realized that I did not want her mornings to consist of a half awake, desperate for coffee mother barely able to respond to her questioning and insights. 
I came up with a solution to what I was beginning to see as a problem.
The solution is I wake up at 5am so I have 2 hours to drink a lot of coffee, clear my head, do morning prayers, and read. This way, when everyone wakes up I am able to greet them with a smile.  We have precious little time together on school mornings, and it is important to me that the time together be good time.

It is not easy for me to get up at 5. Some mornings I hit the snooze button on my phone to get a few extra minutes, and then I wake up with my phone cradled in my arms like my daughter holds her stuffed animals in her sleep.
I make my way downstairs, hit the on button for the coffee maker, and take the dog out into the morning that is still night.
After a time I hear the birds outside begin their morning song, and Fairy the Rooster starts his daily crowing. Roosters do not always crow with the rising sun, they start when the world is dark.  I drink coffee, sit on the couch and am kept company by my little dog and orange cat.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Hymn of Kassiani and St. Mary Magdalene

O Lord God, the woman who had fallen into many sins having perceived Thy divinity received the rank of ointment-bearer offering Thee spices before Thy burial wailing and crying: Woe is me, for the love of adultery and sin hath given me a dark and lightless night; accept the fountains of my tears O Thou Who drawest the waters the waters of the sea by the clouds incline Thou to the sigh of my heart O Thou Who didst bend the heavens by Thine inapprehensible condescension; I will kiss Thy pure feet and I will wipe them with my tresses I will kiss Thy feet Whose tread when it fell on the ears of Eve in Paradise dismayed her so that she did hide herself because of fear; who then shall examine the multitude of my sin and the depth of Thy judgment? Wherefore, O my Saviour and the Deliverer of my soul turn not away from Thy handmaiden O Thou of boundless mercy.

 Hymn of Kassiani
According to tradition, during a dinner with the emperor Tiberius Caesar, Mary Magdalene was speaking about Christ's Resurrection. Caesar scoffed at her, saying that a man could rise from the dead no more than the egg in her hand could turn red. Immediately, the egg turned red. Because of this, icons of Mary Magdalene sometimes depict her holding an egg. from this comes the tradition of dyeing eggs red at Pascha/Easter.

 And here is the the Hymn of Kassiani which is incredibly moving.

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Work is a Blessing

I am in the midst of Spring Cleaning and trying to get everything done before Pascha. 
This is an excerpt from a book called Family Life by Elder Paisios the Athonite that I stumbled across today and found it a timely reminder on work and labor. Especially since I have been waking at 5ish before my family in order to clear my head and get focused before our day begins. I enjoy waking early, but I am still adjusting and sometimes the temptation for a nap is a quite strong. ;-)

—Geronta, in the old days they would say, “Better to wear out your shoes rather than blankets.” What did they mean?
—They meant, “Better to wear out your shoes by working than to stay in bed and be lazy.” Work is a blessing, a gift of God. It gives energy to the body, refreshment to the nous. If God had not given us work, man would have become idle. Hard workers do not stop even in old age. If they stop working while they still have strength, they end up suffering from depression; this is death for them. I remember one little old man in Konitsa, almost ninety years old, who worked continuously. He finally died out in the fields, two hours from home.
Besides, the state of bodily comfort which some people seek is never permanent. They may forget their stress for a time—have their food, their sweets, their baths, their leisure. But, as soon as this is over, they seek another form of comfort. They are constantly anxious because everything leaves them wanting; they feel an emptiness, and their souls seek to be filled. He who wearies from work, however, has a constant joy, spiritual joy.
—Geronta, what if you have back problems and aren’t able to do just any work?
—Fine, but doesn’t the back need exercise? Doesn’t work that exercises the back help? Listen, I’ll tell you: “If someone eats, drinks, and sleeps but doesn’t work, he starts unraveling; he wants to sleep all the time because his body and nerves slacken. Little by little he comes to the point where he can’t do anything. As soon as he walks a little, he falls apart. Instead, if he works a little and moves around, his hands and feet become stronger. Notice that those who love work don’t sleep much, and they don’t sleep from fatigue—they might not get any sleep for a time, yet they keep their strength: work has seasoned them, and they became strong in body.
Especially for a young person, work is health. I have observed that some pampered children become tough and seasoned when they go into the military. The military is good for them. Naturally, this happened more in the old days. Today they are afraid to push the soldiers, because with a little strain the veins are constricted and they suffer from nervous shock. I tell parents to pay someone to allow their children to work for them, to promote their health—this serves to give them a job they like, so that they will learn to like work in general. For, a young person who is energetic also has brains, and if he doesn’t work he will become lazy. Of course, when he sees others succeeding he is confused by his egoism and can’t take pleasure in anything. He constantly has disturbing thoughts and his mind is muddled. Later the devil goes to him and says: “Loser! What a good-for-nothing you are! So and so became a professor, and that other guy has his own business making good money, but where will you end up?” This makes him feel hopeless. If he had worked, however, he would have acquired confidence in himself, in a good sense of the word. He would see that even he is able to get along, and his mind would stay occupied on his job and free him from disturbing thoughts. That way it’s a win-win.
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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

To Ponder....

Whom, then do I call educated ...? First, those who manage well the circumstances which they encounter day by day, and who possess a judgement which is accurate in meeting occasions as they arise and rarely misses the expedient course of action; next those who are decent and honourable in their intercourse with all with whom they associate, tolerating easily and good-naturedly what is unpleasant or offensive in others and being themselves as agreeable and reasonable to their associates as it is possible to be; furthermore, those who hold their pleasures always under control and are not unduly overcome by their misfortunes, bearing up under them bravely and in a manner worthy of our common nature; finally, and most important of all, those who are not spoiled by successes and do not desert their true selves and become arrogant, but hold their ground steadfastly as intelligent men, not rejoicing in the good things which have come to them through chance rather than in those which through their own nature and intelligence are theirs from their birth. Those who have a character which is in accord, not with one of these things, but with all of them - these, I contend, are wise and complete men ....
- from the Panathenaicus
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Thursday, April 7, 2011

I had to read this several times...and could probably stand to read it hundreds more

(Taken from "My Life in Christ" by Saint John of Kronstadt)

Value highly, and always preserve Christian meekness and kindness,
mutual peace and love, crushing by every possible means the impulses of
self-love, malice, irritability, and disturbance. Do not be disturbed
and angered, when anybody tells you a falsehood to your face, or claims
any unjust pretension, or speaks offensively, or boldly detects any of
your weaknesses or passions, the wrongfulness of which, through your
self-love, you did not suspect. Always first coolly reflect over what
your opponent says to you, as well as over your own words and conduct,
and, if, upon an entirely impartial consideration of your words and
actions, you find them just, then let your conscience be at rest, and
do not heed the words of your adversary, either remaining silent before
him, or showing him his error quietly, gently, in all kindness of
heart; but should you find yourself guilty of that, which your
adversary detects in you, then, putting aside self-love and pride, ask
pardon for your fault, and endeavour to correct yourself in future. We
are often angry with straightforward, frank people for openly
disclosing our iniquities. We ought to value such people, and forgive
them, if by their bold speaking they break down our self-love. They
are, in a moral sense, the surgeons who cut off, with a sharp word, the
rottenness of the heart, and through arousing our self-love, they
awaken, in the soul deadened by sin, a consciousness of sin and a vital

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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

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