My dream existence

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Festive Fire

Winter's chill has finally settled over the earth, at least in the northern hemisphere, and the sun has wrapped itself in snowy clouds. The days are short, and the nights are long, as we vacillate between scurrying after Christmas gifts and longing for the comfort of our cozy beds.

But with Thanksgiving just over the horizon, and Christmas less than a month away, this should be a most joyous and festive season, not to mention a season marked by the deepest peace and radiant contentment. I say this because we are on the eve of Christ's arrival in the world. The fire of faith should comfort our souls because we know that God cares so much, He is sending to us His only Son for a brother, friend, and Saviour. The fire of hope should fill us with peace as we consider that God is among us. The fire of charity should thrill our beings, as we reflect on the gift of love made possible by God Who is Love.

So, I hope that while the fog lays low over the fields, and the snow falls from the sky, we all have a chance to sit before a fire, feel its warmth seep through our bodies, and ponder its symbolism as it dances and crackles upon the hearth. May this festive phenomenon fill our hearts with every peace and comfort as we traverse these days of the Advent of Christmas!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

A Few Great Men

Lately, I have had the great good fortune to meet and spend time with some men newly entered into the lives of some of my dearest friends, either as husbands or fiances. These young men have left a deep impression on me by virtue of the fact that they are strong men--the kind of men you didn't really think existed anymore, and these wonderful young men have given me hope that there are in fact, still a few great men out there in this saddened world.

What first most distinguishes these men is that they have a very clear idea of who they are and where they are going. They have a sense of purpose and direction that gives them an energy and a directness very much to be admired, especially in this generation of confusion. One is left in no doubt as to what these gentlemen think about God, life, their places in life, the way to live life, and the importance of the women in their lives.

Another important quality in these men is their social comfort--their social intelligence, as it has been called by some. They move with ease amongst their fellows; they draw others out of themselves and into conversation; they take initiative in getting to know others, regardless of gender or age; they know how to speak seriously or with greater levity according to the occasion, and do not insist upon being one or the other when the time is inappropriate. In short, these young men have a refreshing ability to be completely natural and open with their surroundings, which is a sadly-lacking quality in most people nowadays.

Still another quality I rejoiced to see in these young men was their true gentlemanliness--their complete courtesy for women, not just their particular loved ones, but for all the women whom they encounter. These young men do not possess just the trappings of gentlemanly behavior, but maintain an all-encompassing yet un-ostentatious regard for the needs and desires of the women in their company. If a woman seems left on the fringe of the conversation, these men address the conversation to her directly so as to make her part of what is going on. If she is left without a dance partner, they make sure she has opportunities to dance. If she struggles with something, they are immediately there to assist. If she makes a mistake, they do not call attention to it. They listen attentively to her ideas, and respond generously.

And yet, should this description have made these young men seem too sensitive to be men, I would like to point out that they are very masculine individuals who rejoice in physical activity, who have strong talents for leadership, who eat with gusto and wrestle for fun, who defend their beliefs in the face of strong opposition, and who know how to fend off an attacker. Had anyone asked me to pick better men for my friends, I could not have done so, even if I had had the chance to imagine them into being. They are indeed the best of men, and I am honored to know them. May there come to be many more like them!!!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Why Seek Ye the Living Among the Dead?

Every year at Pascha, Father preaches a homily about how the Resurrection bears special meaning for those of us who have lost a loved one. Although it always makes me cry, this homily is incredibly comforting to me, for in it are reiterated truths so powerful and a hope so joy-filled that one cannot but be filled with the certainty of eternal life.

The dead have not "died," but have "fallen asleep in the Lord." Christ destroyed death by His own death and Resurrection. Therefore, death has no power over us or those we love. We miss our loved ones, but we know they are in God's hands, that He is with them and protects them as He loves and protects us. We know that because of Christ's death and Resurrection, our loved ones will rise again. Having been baptized into Christ, they and we have been baptized into His death. And because mankind have been baptized into His death, mankind of necessity have also been baptized into His Resurrection. Our dead have gone before us, but they only go where we are also going, so in the end, we shall be with them again, and in our Lord's mercy, "we shall see Light."

Monday, March 24, 2008

This is the Day Which the Lord has Made: Let us Rejoice and be Glad Therein

Christos Anesti! Al Massih Qam! Christos Voskrese! Christus Resurrexit! Christ is Risen!

Yesterday, I was crucified with Him;
Today, I am glorified with Him;
Yesterday, I died with Him;
Today I am quickened with Him;
Yesterday, I was buried with Him;
Today, I rise with Him.
(First Paschal Sermon of St. Gregory of Nazianzen)

Friday, January 04, 2008

Strangers on a Plane

I almost never talk to people when I fly. A caution born of countless sad stories in the news, fear, and a sense of difference from most people prompts me to close in on myself when I travel. I retreat into my window seat with my own music and a magazine, making it clear to everyone else that I'd rather not have any personal contact with them.

On my most recent trip back to visit my parents for Christmas, a dancer preempted my typical retreat by wearing his love of life and dance on his sleeve. He'll probably never see this, but I would nonetheless like to say that I am grateful to him for restoring to me something of a sense of kinship with my fellow man, and a recognition that just because you and I are different does not mean that you are an alien (nor, for that matter, am I). There are times when we all need reminders to be human, and I certainly got mine.

I'm also grateful to him for making what is normally a barely bearable necessity an enjoyable and enriching experience. Instead of sitting in my seat looking bored, falling asleep, and refusing eye contact with my neighbors, I enjoyed a free-flowing exchange of ideas, learned a few things, and before I knew it, had passed away the entire flight without once lamenting its discomforts and trials. Thank you to the dancer who kept on talking! (And dancing) :)

Too often, it seems we pass through life in isolation, refusing or not even noticing the opportunities we are given to communicate with others. Rather than participating in a truly human action, we isolate ourselves like frightened forest animals, closing ourselves off from the rest of civilization. But man was created a social being. He was designed to interact with his fellow, to sympathize with the feelings of other people, fulfill the needs of those around him, draw his neighbors out of themselves, and in so doing, enrich both himself and society at large with the shared experience. How can knowledge be imparted, wisdom be gained, and progress be made without at least the attempt to communicate ideas and understand perspectives? Surely we, at least I, can do better. I plan to try, anyway.