Saturday, January 26, 2008

Can't I Have a Reset Button?

This has been one of those phenomenally frustrating days. I knew it would be from the start when before I even got my contact lenses in and my teeth brushed I had a phone call. Now normally I would ignore the phone at that point in my day but we were expecting this call and I needed to handle some details of the day. However, the details were handled within the first few minutes and then the caller continued on....and on....and on.....I did manage to get my bed made and my eyeballs in while on the phone but I couldn't very well step into the shower too.

In the meantime, chaos reigned. I thought I had this worked out. Miriam gets up Noah and gives him his breakfast while Ben does the same with Nathan. Miah is all Adora's. I don't call the three of them the Mobile Destruction Team for nothin'. For some reason, all of them were still in bed screaming their silly little heads off whilst I tried to disentangle myself from this phone call. I finally managed to get off the phone, Adora had the three of them dressed and I booted them down the steps, gate up, no more little destructo-boys wandering the upstairs. No sooner did I get all my clothes off then I hear Noah wandering the hallways. I put my pjs back on, locate him, boot him back down the steps and admonish anyone walking by to keep him downstairs. I get in the shower where, fortunately, my hearing is blissfully blocked by the sound of running water. However, stepping out of the shower, I hear chaos in full swing downstairs once again. I have just enough time to pull on one sock before I become convinced that without intervention my house will shortly be a pile of rubble amidst this suburban block. I pull on my pjs as I race down the hall (an interesting concept for a pregnant woman) and once again admonish all the capable ones to be doing all they can to control the chaos so that Adora and I can at least bathe for Pete's Sake. By this time, my tone of voice is no longer remotely civil. In fact, I am yelling. It's not a good sign.

I take the time to get dressed and attempt to have my quiet prayer time. This goes ok for about 2 1/2 minutes when I realize that it is now way too quiet. Adora had taken off in her van without getting all her instructions for the day and was toting one too many babies along. So off I run down the street chasing her down (again, interesting concept for a pregnant woman) while Ben scoots to find my cellphone which his more rational brain realizes is a much more effective means of communication in this situation. This is still not good. It is minutes before 10:00, I haven't had breakfast and school is not yet even begun.

Well, breakfast happens, Nathan goes down for a morning nap and we work our way through History - even get a little ahead...maybe it's gonna be alright....Then we move on to our work at the table. For this part of the day I park myself at a dining room chair surrounded by 6 or 7 or 8 kids depending upon who wants to do school on any particular day (it's optional for JM and David). From this seat, I can orchestrate several different lessons at once. With my patience already worn thin, I sent JM and David off to play, Ben, Betsy and JT were working independently which left me with Ruth, Philip and Miriam. Oh much for alright.

Miriam was working on her English book. She has a little 1st/2nd grade workbook she's been going through and today we were working on capitalizing the first letter of a proper noun. Her lesson went something like this:

Miriam, read the sentence and tell me what word in the sentence is a name.

The boy is Sam.

Good, which word there is somebody's name?


Uh, no. That's the common noun but what is his name?

Oh....stares off into space...

Miriam, you have to look at the book.

She looks at the the page number.

Miriam, look at the sentence you just read right here. I point to the sentence.

She looks at the third sentence.

Miriam, this sentence right here. What is the boy's name?


Good. And do you see Sam starts with a capital letter? Can you write Sam on this line with a Capital "S"?

She writes sAm

Miriam, you need to make the first letter a capital. What is the first letter in Sam?


Yes, so can you write it with a capital S?

She writes SAm

and so it goes. Three workbook pages later she was still writing out MirIam and pArker scHooL. Thing is, she sort of got it somewhere in the middle there and then just plumb lost it again.

Now, this was punctuated with my work with Philip.

Philip, did you do your reading assignment?


Did you check all your work and make sure you have it all done?


Ok, good. I look at the workbook. Philip, you skipped this whole section. You need to follow the directions and mark the poem here. Please finish the assignment.

Several minutes later.

I'm done.

Ok, did you finish the section I showed you?

Blank look. I did this. He points to a section he had already done correctly.

Philip, you already did that part and you did it right. Did you change it?

Confused look.

Philip, did you do the other part on that page that wasn't done?


I look at the book. Work still not done. Philip, this is the section I asked you to do. Did you do it?


But it says to follow the directions and mark the poem on this page. You didn't do that.

Blank look

Ok, I'll check your other work. I look in the reader to check his workbook answers and find it marked up with random markings. Philip, did you write in your reader?


Why? Do we write in our books?


Well, why did you write in your book?

Mom (note the tone of voice which believes I am the stupidest person on the face of the earth), it said to mark the poem.

Ah. Philip, the poem is on the page in your workbook. This is a story in your reader. You were supposed to mark the poem in your workbook.

Confused, blank look.

Moving on to Ruth. Keep in mind, these three scenarios are a steady stream of conversation between the three of them at once. Ruth is working on a spelling test. I check the test. 6 of the 10 words are wrong. I erase the wrong answers and ask her to think them through and correct them. She rewrites each one exactly the same way. I again erase them and the harangue begins.

Ruth, what makes the "k" sound at the end of rock?


No, rock begins with an r. What makes the "k" sound at the end?


Listen to the question. Here's the word - roCK. What makes the "k" sound at the end?


Ok, it sounds like a k but it's two letters together. What are the two letters?


No, I'm not asking you how to spell the word. I'm asking you what two letters make the "k" sound at the END.




Yes! Now what order do they go in?


No, switch them up.


No, that's the way you just said it. Switch the letters - you have the wrong one first.


Good, now can you spell rock?


Ok, remember it was going to be a ck at the end?


Hm, how about the middle? rrrrrooooooooooock


Nope what makes the oooooooooo sound?


Think about it, Ruth. oooooooo


Yes! Now can you spell rock?


Great! Write it down!

She writes it down. Now look at this next word. It has the exact same sound at the end - soCK.

How do you spell that sound at the end again?


Nope, that was the last word. This one rhymes with that word...and so it continued. But Ruth is just plain not this dumb. She generally does much better than this with great ease. But today, of course, she is frozen in lala Land.

There are days like this that I amaze myself with my patience. Today is not one of them. There is nothing amazing about my patience because it is non-existent. With a sweep of my hand I yell for everyone to just give it up and put the books away for the day. I announce book time, quiet time and send everyone to sit quietly on their beds while I retreat to my bedroom.

The only problem is that Nehemiah is very tired but has missed his morning nap (see reference to phone call and plans contained therein). So instead of sleeping he screams....for a solid hour...while Nathan seems to catch the bug and hoots and giggles at Miah's screaming. No one is quiet because quiet is impossible to obtain in this household. I am now very *not* amused. I spend my quiet time running back and forth to the computer and Miah's bed settling him down over and over and over and over again and trying to convince Nate that, while he may be very cute, he is not at all funny. I give up trying to get any quiet, ignore the noise and write for awhile at my computer before running downstairs to get dinner ready.

JT and Tad are going to a soccer game so I need to get them fed first. I make a passle of sausages and throw them on paper plates. I feed JT, Tad and now Ben who also needs to get to a scout meeting. Then I toss sausages, buns and paper plates at the table and inform everyone to eat, clean up and put on pajamas. They manage to do this in time to sit them all in front of a movie (Meet the Robinsons - review coming in another post) and finally relax somewhat except for Noah who is running around like a crazy person laughing maniacally. My pregnant bum can no longer move but Adora is nowhere to be found by David who goes in search of her. I lift my pregnant bum off the sofa and manage to manipulate a very heavy Noah into his crib for bed. My body is truly done now.

In the meantime, there are several more calls from this morning's caller which I ignore. This person has caused enough grief in my day and I've found out since then that I've been totally manipulated. The unhappiness settles on me like a blanket. Jesus Time happens with everyone together in the living room after the movie and I send everyone off to bed. A private conversation with Adora yields yet more information about just how manipulated I've been and it just seeps into my skin. Then I do the only thing I know how to do when I'm this frustrated - I order a pizza.

In the meantime, Miah wakes up and cries and fusses for a few more minutes. He finally gets settled back to bed. The pizza arrives and now Ruth is screaming bloody murder in her room. I go in and ask why she is screaming. Are you in pain? No. I can't get to sleep. Oh good grief, close your eyes and try. There is no peace in my day - or my night apparantly.

Tad and JT finally arrive home from the soccer game just a few minutes after that and I beg him to go and be nice to Ruth since I did a lousy job at that. He leaves, comes back shortly and announces that Ruth is sound asleep. Hmmmm...

With Tad home, the pizza eaten and everyone momentarily quiet and either sleeping or headed in that direction, I take my tired, frustrated pregnant dupa to the sanctuary of my own bed. It's been a long, terrible, no good, lousy day and I just want a Reset button.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Now What?

Last night I finished reading Frederica Mathewes-Green's book Facing East: A Pilgrim's Journey Into the Mysteries of Orthodoxy. It is a wonderful introduction to Orthodoxy from someone who's been there, done that and noticed all the idiosyncrasies along the way. Khouria Frederica went from hippie to Episcopal priest's wife to mother of an Antiochian Orthodox church and, not only lived to tell the story, but took a year out of the life of their growing church to do just that. She has a wonderfully witty and engaging writing style and a very simple way of explaining what seems like some of the more complex ways of the Eastern Orthodox faith. I believe I have her to thank for the rather quick seeping in of the Orthodox life into my heart and thought-life. There is so much to learn, so much to experience and yet now I feel like I have at least my big toe in the door. It was also fun to read about things like Megan's nose piercing and then find an email in my in-box from the same - only about 10 years later in life sans piercing. It's really an unfair advantage I have in my budding friendship with Khoria Frederica's daughter...

But the question is, what do I do now? I've gotten through the introductory material and where do I go from here? I've ordered her next book (can't remember the title) but I'd really like to explore the idea of icons and personal devotion more (yep, she has a book on that too). I find myself quite taken with the Orthodox icons and find they can carry me much deeper toward Christ than any other devotion I've toyed with (which has been many) over the years.

Well, I guess I'll have to give poor Patrick O'Brien his due and pay more attention to the sea-faring journey sitting in my bathroom which I've been reading in snatches. There's also that Bradley birth workbook that needs some going through as well...plenty to read there until I get my next amazon order on my doorstep....

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Dinner with the Orthodox

We went to the monthly dinner out with our new Orthodox friends last night. Adora agreed to watch the kids so we could go mingle free of the responsibility and food issues (I think Ben Feingold would turn in his grave at a Chinese Buffet!) and we were so eager to get going that we made the mistake of arriving at the restaurant a few minutes early. We realized what we'd done a few paces before we reached the door and then had to stand in the doorway haggling over whether to wait out the next 20-30 minutes inside or out. We opted for inside where we were immediately regaled by an eager hostess who asked us if we were looking for the Wawa group. Well, darn if we knew the answer to that one! We didn't think a church dinner would be the Wawa group but maybe Wawa is Ukrainian for parish supper - how are we supposed to know? So we decided to sit in the carry-out waiting area and look for ...Wawa, whatever that may be. Well, it only took Mr. Wawa about 10 minutes for he and his wife to arrive (pretty good for Orthodox folk). It turns out Mr. Wawa happened to be calling to reserve the room for the church from a Wawa store which showed up on the restaurant's caller i.d. So the four of us gathered in the room and got acquainted while waiting for the remainder of the crowd. Apparently these suppers usually attract at least about 20 people but it looked like this one was going to be slim pickings. Fr. Greg, Pani Chris and the family were the next to arrive - they actually had an excuse for being 20 minutes late besides just the whole Orthodox thing - it seemed to have involved a naked three year old. We didn't press for details. Within 45 minutes of the scheduled arrival time all those coming aboard had arrived and it turned out to be a cozy group of 8 adults and 5 kids. We really enjoyed the conversation and the food and the ability to watch other people's kids run rampant around a restaurant without rallying our own, or cutting up a million pieces of meat, picking over 50 different buffet items only to find that the only things on the family diet are two types of fruit and having our conversation interrupted by sixteen trips to the bathroom. It seems there's a lot of common ground there - lots of educated, science minded folks for Tad to talk with and down-to-earth women committed to family life to whom I could relate.

We did stumble over a bit of a language barrier as we were pressed for details of various events in our life - such as our adoptions. As soon as I began to speak freely of having visions, hearing God's voice distinctly and openly sharing the details of my prayer life there were some interesting responses which I have yet to decipher. I realized some of the charismatic-speak which comes so naturally to us can sound like a foreign language. I am actually thankful for this. Tad and I have both been pondering the consequences of focusing so keenly on the charismatic and we're glad to close up our charismatic shells - at least for a season - and crawl into a more introspective mode of worship. We are relishing in allowing God to speak quietly to the recesses of our hearts without the need to "invoke" His Spirit, "encourage the bretheren" with prophecy or tongues or "enter in" to worship, all the while wondering if we're doing "it" right - whatever "it" is. For now, I'm content to allow "it" to simply remain yet another Mystery of God's incarnation.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Journey Continues

Today was our second time to attend Divine Liturgy (hey! I figured it out!) at Four Evangelists. We had the whole crowd along - including Adora and Little Man and the three wayfarers from last Sunday. We ended up being a few minutes late but even at that we were among the first ones there. We are still pondering this propensity for people to wander in very late - even up to the point where things are winding down. This time, though, we didn't really hesitate at the door. We piled up the coats on a table (that was a rather high pile) and shuffled everyone in, taking up the last three rows of seats. Tad suggested I sit in the aisle so I could see more of what goes on at the altar while he tried out standing next to the choir - I think he secretly wants to be part of them and is inching his way closer and closer. That's fine with me as long as he can still herd the masses while he sings.

We assigned Nathan to JT, mostly to give him something to do, while Ben was given a booklet and a seat next to Dad with the hopes that he would follow along in the liturgy. He's been our surliest dude in this church change. Philip and the little ones are just too durn clueless to even really notice we've changed venues, the girls are very excited about new opportunities to form relationships and JT has settled into the pattern of hating what is just another boring church in his little distorted mind which can't accept that people (not to mention GOD) may actually like him and want him there. Adora was on her own with Nehemiah. I knew she'd have her hands full keeping his electric charge down to a dull roar.

The liturgy is beginning to make more sense. I was able to pick out more similarities to things with which I'm already familiar. I actually managed to follow my way through the beginning, the two (yes, two - finally figured that out too!) readings and on into the sermon. Doing good. No major kidtastrophes yet either.

It didn't seem quite so long either. Fr. Greg made an interesting observation about that later. He had read the first entry about last week's experience and it struck him as odd that I would find the service long. He said he knows it's long but he just doesn't experience it that way. He compared it to being color blind. If someone says to a color blind person, this is blue, well that person would believe you but it just wouldn't be his experience of that thing. A very fitting analogy.

I think the long-ness of it all will grow on us. After all, it isn't any longer than a rip-roaring charismatic service, but it's not as...overtly dramatic either. It's more like a long stillness, a long meditative peace. It's tough to be still and peaceful - especially since we've spent the past ten years trying to manipulate the liturgy into "bringing us in" to the Holy Spirit. We speak in tongues, we lift up our hands, we bow, we dance, we sing endless choruses of Spirit-invoking songs and in the end we hope that we can but touch a bit of the "power of the Holy Spirit". But the orthodox way is so different. The Divine Liturgy *is* the Holy Spirit. All I have to do is step into the river and feel the water flow over me. If that makes me raise my hands up to the Lord or fall prostrate on my face (and the orthodox way is more of the heine in the air, forehead to the ground sort of prostration) I don't think a single person will notice. But most people won't be doing those things because it's just nice to float in a river and let the current carry you where it will. It's an interior joy...a simple peace. And I don't have to do a single thing except yield to it. In fact, the less I do in my own strength, the swifter the current carries me. (Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me a sinner.)

We moved into the next portion of the Divine Liturgy, approaching the Eucharist and I was feeling so confident I decided to give teaching the girls a whirl. Besides, Ruth was beginning to get very restless and bug Betsy so I needed a way to keep her focused and otherwise occupied. I stood between her and Betsy with the service booklet (all the while, keeping a foot firmly planted on Noah who was doing his best to throw books and sneak off down the aisle behind my back). I pointed out to them the musical notes and explained that reading music is just like doing the hand thing with Miss Catherine in choir (ok, they knew what that meant which is all that matters). They really enjoyed joining in with the singing, although I had to speak to Ruth about 1,008 times - I don't think I'm exaggerating - about having her dupa facing toward the altar. We were all able to pick out the Lord's Prayer and the Creed - and even Philip and Miriam were joining in at those points sans service booklet. So far, so good.

Then came time for everyone to go up and receive the Eucharist. By now, David had exited upstage with Dad quickly following (his) behind to the bathroom. He is still at that stage where saying he has to go is quickly followed by the actual act of going. This left me alone with all the others as Adora was, as predicted, running down Miah in all directions. I was perfectly content to sit and enjoy the moment when Pani Chris approached and instructed me to take the children up for a blessing. I shot her my best "you've got to be kidding" look but she countered with a definitive "I'll help you" . I stood up, hoisted Nathan onto my hip and grabbed Noah by the hand which got his best whining-plopping-his-fat-butt-on-the-floor-tantrum. A quick threat to the state of his backside and he was suddenly with the program. Nate was the first to be blessed and Fr. Greg did so by waving the silver spoon around in a vague sign of the cross in front of his face. At first I thought he misunderstood and was planning to commune the kid but then I realized this was a particularly orthodox form of torture. Nathan never did get that spoon to stop waving about in the air long enough for his lips to wrap about it's curves and the rest of us were blessed without quite so much turmoil. Then Pani Chris directed us to the basket of bread and encouraged everyone to partake. This confused the children since I hadn't explained the whole thing to them ahead of time but they were happy to be able to participate in a Food Event and I had happened to have come across the ingredients of the bread the day before so knew it was safe for all - well, except Philip, of course. David and Tad returned just in time to gather everyone together and herd them back to our spots.

Afterwards, the children were all ready to line up and kiss the crucifix at the end of the service and Fr. Greg did a stellar job introducing himself to the members of our household who had been absent last week. We made it through our second Divine Liturgy intact.

Again, it was nice to fellowship a bit afterwards. The younger children were engaged in a flannel board story of the Nativity while we chatted with various new friends, the most memorable of which, for me, was an older woman who intentionally pulled me aside. She herself is a convert to orthodoxy and I really don't know much about her past experience except that she was Roman Catholic and has a daughter roughly my husband's age who attended high school with him. She said she had been thinking about us and was glad to see us return. Then she said that when she had begun to come to Four Evangelists she was given the best advice ever. It had been suggested to her that she just be sure to make it to Divine Liturgy each week and eventually the liturgy itself would instruct her heart and her mind. She was so thrilled that she'd been blessed by following this advice and wanted me to know that the same could be true for us. I think the advice was two-fold - first of all, get to church every Sunday and second of all, let the Liturgy teach. The first is still a bit of a mystery to me. I think I can count on one hand the number of times since I was born that I've missed church on a Sunday morning and those I can remember distinctly because they all involved a crisis of some sort. It seems odd to me that one would need to be instructed to do this and it would be such a novel idea....But the second emphasis was a wonderful reminder and exactly describes our experience thus far. Each time we expose ourselves to the Divine Liturgy, it does indeed instruct our hearts and our minds all on its own. I am really looking forward to the coming weeks, months, years, as each Divine Liturgy builds upon another and seeps into who I am. So far, truly so good. Peace and Joy are close by.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Through the Window of an Icon

As I grasp hold of some of these orthodox teachings and customs, I've been trying to pass them on to the children during our morning devotions. Today we were discussing icons. We talked about the flatness of them - like windows - and how we can look through them into truths about the Kingdom. We talked about how the icons show the fellowship of the saints, how the ornate and beautiful things of the orthodox church and liturgy are just dim pictures of the reality of Heaven and from this JT piped up with, "You mean we're going to live forever?" HUH? I wasn't even discussing the eternal aspect of God's Kingdom but I guess the idea that the saints are still up there interceding for us made him consider it. Not to mention that we aren't exactly a family who doesn't discuss these things - I have no idea why this was a new idea to him. But new it seemed to be and he actually seemed to be feeling a bit - well, I don't know, sparked by the idea of it all. "Yes, JT, that's the idea." "Well, what about hell?" "Well, those folks live eternally as well. That's why it's pretty important to get your affairs straightened out ahead of time." He pondered that for a while. He had a couple more questions and then he was done discussing it. I'm hoping the icons will continue to open up windows that face toward Heaven for him. He's been so lost lately and he seems to have turned a bit of a corner - maybe more like come around a bend - toward a deeper faith. So today I am thankful for windows. I am thankful for windows that look an awful lot like the saints of the church pointing us all toward Christ.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Our First Day

We took the whole family to our first orthodox liturgy today (what do they call it anyway? mass? liturgy? service?). The church (um, temple?) is a Ukrainian Orthodox church which meets in Tad's old high school in a newly added annex. The priest is a wonderfully warm and smiley man who remembered Tad, JT and Ben by name from when they attended a couple of weeks ago (I suppose he and Tad have corresponded a bit by email as well). Which brought me to my very first realization. Tad has been introducing himself to all new people as either Joel or Fr. Joel. I was quite taken aback when I heard him addressed as "Tad". I mean, I still call him this at home, his family still calls him this, we had even already discussed that he would be reclaiming his childhood nomenclature but it was a shock to hear it come out of a stranger's mouth somehow. Joel, Fr. Joel....gone...replaced simply with Tad, the wonderful, simple, geek I married 15 years ago. It seems we're back to square one and I sort of relish the idea of it. There are many things I'd like to begin again at the beginning and this feels like a fresh start somehow.

It took us a few minutes upon entering to get our bearings. It seems we had actually gotten there at the end of whatever and before the beginning of whatever - I am going to have learn the parts of this service, I just can't keep it all in my head...So a lone reader was standing at a podium facing the altar. She seemed to be the only one paying any attention to what she was reading. Even Fr. Greg was walking around, fully vested, but speaking in a normal speaking tone to the few people who had already arrived and were setting, something else. While we stood there awkwardly trying to decide where to put coats, where to arrange the children and just who would walk into the area where the service was being held first, another family breezed in. The father had a pony tail and was carting two young children. He had his hands full and headed straight for the kitchen area where he spent about the next half hour, well into the beginning of the next part of the liturgy.

I've been reading quite a bit about what to expect in an orthodox church and so some of it seemed vaguely familiar. There were two screens hiding the altar and an icon on either side of the little doorway in the middle of the two screens. There was a table off to the side holding a basket of bread which was also joined later by little cups of...something... Right smack in the middle of the center aisle was a podium which held an icon of the Four Evangelists, the parish's namesake. The only surprise was the many chairs lined up in neat rows facing the altar area. I had prepared to sit on the floor when my pregnant body could stand standing no more but this church chooses to provide chairs for the rather random acts of standing and not standing throughout the liturgy.

Fr Greg wore a beautifully embroidered set of vestments. They were white with blue embroidered patterns all up and down the sides and chest. I was so taken with the vestments and the craftsmanship of them that I failed to notice until much later the matching garments for the altar and various podiums. Someone spent a lot of time making those.

Slowly, the space begin to fill up. By the time the first reading was chanted (at least I think that's what it was) anyone who was going to come had arrived and arranged themselves in various spots. The choir all huddled around the podium off to the side. Because the source of a lot of my reading was Frederica Mathews-Green's blog, books and articles, I recognized her daughter right away and quickly discerned which of the two of her sons has autism. Megan did spend quite a bit of time on the floor with her children and had brought a small family photo album to entertain them. I had read so much of "Mama Fred's" blog that I even recognized many of the photos as I glanced over at the children throughout the liturgy.

The liturgy was long. We did have a book to follow with all of the music printed so we were able to pick our way through the notes of each chanted bit. I am just skilled enough at sight reading to follow along if I have a strong lead but Tad was able to eek out a bass part on his own for most of it. I have always loved to make some harmony with him. There wasn't much hope of getting any of the kids to follow along, though, so they just had to stand there. Philip and Ruth managed to keep their odd behaviors down to a constant stare at the surrounding folks. Noah had an occasional whiny moment and David spent quite a bit of time on the floor between Tad's legs. Nathan was sleepy and acted the part while Ben and JT did their best to just focus on standing for as long as they could before taking brief breaks in their chairs.

I'm still not sure of my first impression except that I know I found it to be long and difficult to follow. I'm not even sure how many readings were chanted - I believe just two. This was compounded by the fact that a reading would be announced, then there would be about 5 more minutes of chanting and responses and intercessions and then I think the actual chanting of the reading would occur. Somehow I completely missed the consecration of the gifts - or the gifts had already been consecrated at some other point. I suppose without being able to focus on the priest and the altar I was rather lost. The most concrete thing I could put my finger on was a feeling I had about 3/4 of the way through. I just suddenly felt physically saturated with incense. I felt like it had settled into my clothes, my hair, my skin and at one moment sunk in to stay. I don't know if there's a greater esoteric meaning to that experience but it felt like something comfortable, like being able to sit in the comfortable chair when visiting relatives instead of forcing myself to perch awkwardly on the end of a footstool for the sake of propriety. It will take many times going back and back and back to learn to appreciate each piece of this experience - or to be able to take it all in as one experience. For today, it was just enough that we have a start.

Fr. Greg shared some announcements at the end which included welcoming our family. He thought he had us all in one place and was just about to count heads when I had to let him know - don't commit the head count to memory until our three stragglers return! Afterwards we had warm conversations with so many people. There was no pretense, no gushing over new folks in the midst and I felt, for the first time in a very long time, that I could just be myself in a church setting. I hit it off right away with Megan and really enjoyed meeting all the people. Next time we should be able to send the children off to Sunday school during the fellowship time and enjoy building relationships without them and their demands. Unfortunately, we had to cut our stay short so that we could get home and send Tad and Ben off again to retrieve our stragglers.

I don't know what I think. I think that I think that I am not ready to commit to anything this week. I want to stay there, to soak it in, to make sense of it, to let the whole thing sink in just as the incense did, but I don't want any responsibility. I don't want to think today about this is where I will be for a long time to come. I like this temporary freedom we have in this little sabbatical we've taken and yet, I know if we use this time to visit other churches and worship with other friends, I will now long to be back at Four Evangelists again for another Sunday. Now if only we could get the kids to jump on board....

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Trouble with Trouble

Philip is in trouble again. He's sitting in time out. I've lost my patience. He is a Peace Ruiner. If he doesn't learn how to get along with two year olds I'm going to lose my mind. Poor guy. I'm just not sure he's going to make it in this big, wide world and I hear the clock ticking away.....I'm trying my best to give him skills that will help him make it and he fights me all the way. Autistic I guess I could handle. Mental Retardation I can handle. Put the two together in one kid? No thank you, please. But, truth is, its there and I gotta deal with it....sigh.....Well, then LOrd, change me because Autistic just doesn't ever change.

I had a dream

last night. I dreamt that Tad had been assigned to a new CEC parish. He was in the sacristy getting vested where Fr. Patrick would show up every once in a while and secretly hand him a part of an orthodox vestment. By the end of it, he was completely vested as an orthodox priest, not a CEC priest. The CEC priest (no one recognizable) confronted him and said, "You're becoming orthodox?" The cat's out of the bag.

And so our journey begins. It will truly be a journey and I'm getting really excited. For so many years I've been searching for joy - promised it by the Lord, prayed over to have it, wondered where to find it and I think I'm finally going to see it. Mary Joy. I like the sound of it even more when I find myself with the freedom to pursue it, or rather, the freedom to let God pour it over me.