Monday, June 28, 2004

Going Back To Cali

In less than 48 hours I will be on a plane bound for Burbank, California. My mom is turning 50 years old this year! It's amazing to think back on all that has happened in my life in the past year, it's almost a little overwhelming. I will definitly be missing the beautiful Northwest, for the week that I am away. It will be nice to see my family though, and my friends.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

House Cleaning

I've been spending time lately trying to clean out vestiges of my old life. I have amassed quite a music collection over the years, and have been steadily making piles of what I would get rid of. I started with the obvious, things that I just can't listen to as a Christian, not liking what they have to say, or the mood they put me in. The next pile was stuff I hadn't listened to in forever, and kept thinking I might. I made two trips to Wherehouse Records, to sell the CD's for store credit. I also sold some DVD's. Between the two trips, I'd say I ended up with between $225 and $250 of credit, give or take. I don't have much left. I had to replace some good CD's that I had worn out, and just get some new ones. I'm still forcing myself to go through my old stuff, and really just give some things up. I also have two big boxes of books that I need to get rid of. I could try bookcrossing.com, but I'm too lazy, so I think I'll just donate them to the library or something. Part of my house cleaning mission now also has to do with the fact that I will be moving yet again, sometime in the next few months. My friends upstairs want to move farther down south of here, where the cost of living is less. They are making an offer on a house. I love where I live now, but I can't see myself renting here with strangers living upstairs. So I'll look for something closer to the mission, like Suquamish, Kingston, Poulsbo, or Bainbridge Island. A guesthouse would be ideal. At least somewhere where I could have my dog, and my kitten. Well, it's not mine yet. The kittens recently turned one month old, and are walking around now, and very playful. Back to the topic at hand, so I'm trying to get rid of stuff, as I hate my constant moving. I need less stuff.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

In Memoriam

I had a favorite patient pass away this morning. He wasn’t with us; he had been at the hospital all week. He was a quintessential Southern Gentleman, hailing from “Missipi” (as he pronounced it), and was lots of fun and very cute; when he wasn’t hollering continuously (which he did often). The cute moments made up for the screaming. Unfortunately, taking care of someone at the end of their life gives you a very limited view of them as a person. It is nice to know more about them, like that he was a ship engineer, and worked on steamboats in the south, including the “Natchez”, which is a very famous original steamboat that is still around. I took a jazz dinner cruise on it when I was in New Orleans! Anyhow, I just wanted to relate some anecdotes about him.
He would be sitting in front of the nurses’ station sometime when I was coming in to work. He would wave me over to him, have me bend down so he could read my name tag, look at me, and say, (Southern accent with a lisp) “Oh, Ah know you! You’re Dawn Truelove!”
He always called my friend Erica, “Eureka”, and now everyone calls her “Eureka”! She said to him once, “My name’s Erica, say Erica.” He replied, “I can’t say Erica.” J And she said, “You just did!” His reply was, “Well, Ah didn’t mean to.”
He was always singing old songs, like “In The Jailhouse Now”, “You Are My Sunshine”, “Que Sera Sera”, and we could get him to “dance” in his wheelchair by saying “Shake it, Tom!” and he would start to move his shoulders back and forth really slow and pump his fists.
He was addicted to Peppermint Patties. His family would bring in big bags, and we would find him in bed covered in chocolate. He called them “Patio Patties”, and he also ate Junior Mints, which he called “Baby Patties”.
One pitiful thing he said just a few weeks ago was, “Are you ever too old and too ugly to cry?”
His hearing aids were broken recently, and so we were writing notes to him, and once when he was crying wrote one that said, “We love you, Tom!” He took the pen and paper, and wrote back, “I love ever one.” (exactly like that!)
Those are just some random things that I wanted to remember.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Reading

This morning I picked up "For The Life Of The World", which, despite its small size, I have taken a long time to read through. It is very profound though. The passages I was reading this morning were talking about the secularization of Christianity.
This truth is that secularism... is a tragedy and a sin. It is tragedy because having tasted a good wine, man preferred and still prefers to return to plain water; having seen the true light, he has chosen the light of his own logic.It is indeed characteristic that the prophets and the preachers of "secularized Christianity" constantly refer to "modern man" as the one who "uses electricity" and who is shaped by "industrialism" and the "scientific world view." Poetry and art, music and dancing are not included.
Which is slightly funny that "secularized" Christianity espouses "modern man", as I feel a strong pull the other way. It is funny how the world, and the media uses our dependence upon technology to shape our thinking, our habits, and our behaviors! I read something in another Orthodox book, that said that TV and technology have taken away our creative and thinking abilites. It is a struggle to change to a way of thinking and living that is completely uninfluenced by the media, or society, or modern life in general.
This really struck me: The "modern man" has "come of age" as a deadly serious adult, conscious of his sufferings and alienations but not of joy, of sex but not love, of science but not of "mystery". This really characterizes many aspects of my life prior to Orthodoxy, especially being conscious of the sufferings and alienations, but not joy. Life is still a struggle, but it is that joyous struggle.
I added parts of this next passage to the description of my blog...
-but honesty to the Gospel, to the whole Christian tradition, to the experience of every saint and every word of Christian liturgy demands the exact opposite: to live in the world seeing everything in it as a revelation of God, a sign of His presence, the joy of His coming, the call to communion with Him, the hope for fulfillment in Him. Since the day of Pentecost there is a seal, a ray, a sign of the Holy Spirit on everything for those who believe in Christ and know that He is the life of the world- and that in Him the world in it's totality has become again a liturgy, a communion, an ascension. To accept secularism as the truth about the world is, therefore, to change the origional Christian faith so deeply and so radically, that the question must be asked: do we really speak of the same Christ?

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Seek Ye First The Kingdom Of God

The Gospel reading (Matthew 6:22-33) and sermon really struck me today. “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God…” I acquired a whole new perspective of that passage and it’s significance. Not just that we shouldn’t worry, but that to have God at the center of our thoughts and actions. I myself spend too much thought on other things; not that it’s worrying, but just expending my time and energy on those lesser things. Also, with the whole new direction my life has taken in the past year, I have seen and experienced what happens when I put God first above other things. I’m no Saint, and I have a long way to go to putting God first in my life, but I have changed a lot (for the better, I think) and feel the effects of it on my “peace of mind”. It is still a struggle, but that’s what life is. A struggle for Theosis. “…And all these things shall be yours as well.” When God is put first, other things are sanctified, and given back to us.
Also, “the eye is the lamp of the body”… It is amazing how significant this is in light of what we (as society) put into our minds. This is a personal struggle for me now, to fight against. Going back to things being sanctified, the world looks different when your “eye is sound” and filled with light. I try to keep that light, and look at the world and everything differently.
“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these… will He not much more clothe you, O men of little faith?” *Addendum* I know this is about not worrying, that God will care for us, if He cares even for the flowers in the field. But this is what I had been thinking of too...I would like to be like “the lilies”. I pray to have a simple radiance, which comes from a pure heart. Beauty, no matter what the media tries to tell us, is simple and pure and good, it has nothing to do with clothes, and make-up, how much time or money is spent. I could go on and on all day.
Something else that has been on my mind as of late…(another “rant” is coming…) the American need for “instant gratification”. I hate that term, but it gets inside of us. It involves every aspect of our day to day life. Even in spiritual terms. It is so easy to get discouraged when we fail, and lose hope. My priest always says this quote (I can’t remember who it is), “God does not expect our success, He expects our steadfast effort.” Our life is about that struggle against our sinful nature, to become more and more like Christ. Even in other areas of life, I kick myself when I feel that tug towards “instant gratification” and not living in the moment. Sometimes we are (at least I am) so focused on the outcome that we forget to live and experience the "here and now". It’s one of my projects to work on overcoming, which is very hard, having it so ingrained from our culture.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Beautiful Day

Ah, finally one day off of work with nice weather! Yippee! I took my walk this morning, it was so lovely to be outside. I love being able to walk a mile from my house, be surrounded by trees, with the clear blue sky overhead, and hear nothing but the birds singing. I don't have to worry about spending the rest of the day indoors at work, yuck! I'm giddy! (Though I do have to go and get fitted for my contact lenses this afternoon, I'm finally tired of glasses) :)
I can't imagine living anywhere else, it is so beautiful in this state! But then, it doesn't take much to make me content, just fresh air and nature :) It's also nice to have my dog out there with me. At least for me, my dog always reminds me to laugh and have fun. She is currently protecting the kingdom of our deck from the scary cats that threaten our very lives (from the way she's barking).

Monday, June 14, 2004

Of Silence

I have always had an appreciation for silence. My mom says I was a quiet baby, she actually pinched me once, to see if I would cry, because I hadn't yet. Obviously I was her first baby :) (And she was 19 years old) The quiet didn't last long, my sister came along a few months after I was two years old. There could never be two more seemingly opposite people, and it's still this way. Though not all that different in some respects. But I digress. She was always the kid in class in trouble for talking, non-stop. I was at the other extreme, painfully so. So I've had to work at it alot. Not to say that stupid things aren't always flying out of my mouth. But I don't NEED to talk, I also don't need to fill my head with noise. But there's a new idea of silence, since becoming Orthodox. It has taken on a whole new meaning, and has given me something to work towards, Lord have mercy.
This weeks book club chapter (for tomorrow) is "Silence in prayer: the meaning of hesychia". I only read for 20 minutes on my dinner break at work last night, but I already got so much out of this!
"Prayer is a laying aside of thoughts."
"...involves a progressive self-emptying, in which the mind is stripped of visual images and humanly devised concepts, and so contemplates in purity the realm of God." Can we, of "Modern" American Society, really strive for such a thing?
These were the real kickers:
"Silence does not consist in keeping your mouth shut. One person may speak ten thousand useful words, and it is counted as silence; another speaks a single unnecessary word, and it is counted as a breach of the Lord's commandment, 'You shall give account in the day of judgement for every idle word that comes out of your mouth.' (Mt 12:32)"
"In the words of Abba Poemen, 'One person appears to be keeping silent and yet condemns others in his heart; such a person is speaking all the time. Another person talks from morning till evening and yet keeps silent; that is, he says nothing except what is helpful to others.' "
I would like to be the second person, but all too often I find myself in the place of the first.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Life Support

I found this article very interesting, on an Orthodox view of life support, in relation to a persistent vegitative state. I deal with this daily, as I have one long-term patient at work, in her 40's, at the end-stage of a debilitating genetic disease. She is no longer able to take any kind of fluid or nutrition by mouth, and is unresponsive, though sometimes she will scream or cry, other than that she sleeps. It is a bit different situation, but she is on a feeding-tube. It is a very sad thing, especially since the family who is in charge of her care has not been into the facility at least in the time I've been there, 9 1/2 months. Though, I can't judge them, because it is a very difficult and sad situation, and no one wants the responsibility of deciding whether someone should live or die. What I liked about this article was that it doesn't look at it as deciding whether someone is "to live or die", it's very good, but unfortunate that most people can't look at it this way. There is a book about Bio-ethics and Orthodoxy that is on my (very long) reading list.

Another Lenten Recipe

This is an awesome potato salad!

Lenten Potato Salad

“Potato Salad with Sesame-Tarragon Dressing”

(6-8 servings)

6 medium red potatoes (can also use white or gold, just needs to be thin-skin)
1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil (extra-virgin olive oil if not Lenten)
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoon dried tarragon
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
Bottled hot pepper sauce
1/2 cup minced red onion
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

1.Cut the potatoes into cubes or bite-size chunks, making about six cups. Steam until tender, then set aside to cool slightly.

2.In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, tahini, tarragon, mustard, salt and hot pepper sauce to taste. Add the potatoes, onion, and parsley, and toss gently. Serve warm or thoroughly chilled.

From “Vegan Deli”

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

News

My priest received a call yesterday, he is going to be interviewed about our mission for the radio program "Come Receive The Light". Also, the newly ordained Bishop Benjamin will be celebrating Vespers with us on June 23rd.
My parents are supposed to arrive home today from their trip to Italy and Greece. So I should be able to find out how that went.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Beet Stew

With a fast coming upon us, I thought I would share this recipe.(taken from "Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites")
Ukrainian Beet and Bean Stew
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
2 cups sliced onions
1/2 cup chopped celery
3 cups water
3 cups sliced cabbage
1 cup sliced carrots
4 cups peeled cubed raw beets (5 or 6 medium beets)
3 cups undrained whole tomatoes, chopped (28 oz can)
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
2 tablespoons white or cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups cooked kidney beans (15 ounce can, drained)
1 tablespoon dried dill (1/4 cup fresh)
sugar to taste
black pepper to taste
chopped scallions
In a pot, heat oil briefly, add the onions and celery, and saute on medium heat, stirring continuously for 4 or 5 minutes, until browned. Add 1 cup of the water, cover, lower the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the cabbage and carrots, stir well, and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes. Add the remaining 2 cups of water, the potatoes, beets, tomatoes, caraway seeds, vinegar, and salt; bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover, and simmer for about 35 minutes, until the beets are tender. Add the beans and the dill. Add sugar and pepper to taste. Serve topped with chopped scallions.



Saturday, June 05, 2004

Quote Of The Day

"Try to remember that all real Christian work is local - right here and now, between myself and God and my neighbor." Fr Seraphim Rose

Modern Man

I have a lot of thoughts running through my head, and I'm going to try and organize them here. I picked up "Not Of This World" The life of Fr Seraphim Rose, and started reading it again today. How many of us would make plans to live completely off the land, without electricity, plumbing, phone, running water, etc? What is really necessary? I had already thought of this in the past year, as I've been without cable(it was required to have by the ex-husband)(and also haven't even turned on the T.V. since I don't know when), lived without internet for several months (and didn't perish), and even without a phone for several months, oh yes, and no dishwasher(still)! We live in a consumer-driven society, you are identified by what kind of clothes you wear, what you do for "a living"(if you ever have the time or money to actually get around to living), what you entertain yourself with (choices of music, T.V., movies). We fill our minds with advertisements, in our "free" time we shop, spend money, look for more ways to consume. When does the real living start? What does it look like? If you aren't sitting in front of the T.V. what are you doing? Need to get in shape, go pay money to spend a couple more hours in doors at the gym. Hmph. Say you don't watch T.V.? Expect a blank stare. Our whole society is built upon consuming. Also, making life "easier", but signing away your life to your job to do it. Have to have the newest computer, cell phone, car, etc. How many conveniences do we need?
T.V., radio, video games, cell phone...when it's all off what's left? Do you mean to say I might actually have to spend time alone with myself? Find out if I have thoughts in my head? (or worse...not) There are certain modern conveniences I'm not about to give up. I'm not saying I want to move to a hermitage and live completely off the land. But I certainly don't want to be punching a time clock for the rest of my life. I want to be out in the REAL "real world", with trees, water, earth, animals, and people with a mind of their own (other non-slaves). That's what I look for someday.
Exuse my loud rant. Sometimes I get riled up, so I'm done with my preaching now. Do what you want with life. This is just what I think.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Book Worm

Ok, I like to read. Sometimes I get a little too excited, like lately. I have too many books to read at one time. So I decided to slow down and focus myself. :) It helped that there was no book club this week. So I've only been reading The Brothers Karamazov. I am finally getting something out of it! I am over a third of the way through, not quite halfway. I don't have any thoughts to post about it yet, but I'm just happy that I'm getting through it and taking something from it.

That says it all...

"I don't want to sell anything, buy anything or process anything as a career. I don't want to sell anything bought or processed...or buy anything sold or processed...or process anything sold, bought, or processed...or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don't want to do that."
In the words of Lloyd Dobler, from the movie Say Anything.