April 27, 2008

Unspoken Love

While enjoying lunch a few days ago in the cafeteria of a local medical center I witnessed something quite extraordinary. An elderly couple began their midday meal a few tables away. The woman handed the man a small packet of mustard. Without hesitation he took the packet from her, pulled out a small penknife knife, opened the small scissors attachment then slowly and carefully cut off a corner of the packet before handing it back to her. They ate without speaking. Words were superfluous as they sat comfortably in each others quiet companionship.

As Christians we assemble to celebrate and share in the Eucharist. This heavenly meal is at the heart of our Christian experience. And being good Orthodox folk we always enjoy a common meal afterwards. As a society, as a people, as fellow travelers the breaking of bread together is perhaps the most essential of all our common rituals. The space between us as we sup together shrinks and our defenses fall. Strangers no longer seem so strange and families and friends strengthen/renew their bonds. Meal time is where we share not just food but stories, hopes, dreams, disappointments, burdens, memories and most importantly, love.

For the elderly couple this lunch was a simple meal much like the thousands of others they shared over the years. But this was much more than the sharing of a simple sandwich. The man’s response spoke volumes about their relationship (I am sure they were husband and wife). He knew exactly what she needed and expected from him. She in turn trusted him to know what she needed. Here was love in action, here no explanation was necessary and no questions need be asked. No words but very clear communication.

When they finished eating he tidied up then helped her to stand. She slowly began walking away (with the help of a walker). He spoke softly to her urging her to be careful. All the while he kept his hand lightly on her back in case she slipped. They disappeared around the corner most likely on their way to more tests, to more uncertainty. No matter, he would be there with/for her and they would face it together.

April 20, 2008

Not On Bread Alone

What then is fasting for us Christians? It is our entrance and participation in that experience of Christ Himself by which He liberates us from the total dependence on food, matter, and the world . . . Yet it is only fasting that can perform that transformation, gives us the existential proof that our dependence on food and matter is not total, not absolute, that united to prayer, grace and adoration, it can itself be spiritual.

All this means that deeply understood, fasting is the only means by which man recovers his true spiritual nature. It is not a theoretical but truly a practical challenge to the great Liar who managed to convince us that we depend on bread alone and built all human knowledge, science and existence on that lie.

Fr. Alexander Schmemann
Great Lent: Journey To Pascha

April 19, 2008

My Brother Baptized

I found out this week that my brother Terry was baptized last Sunday at All Saints of North America. I have written about Terry and the adversities he overcame at Strength and Honor. The story of how this came about and how he was introduced to Orthodoxy is much too complicated to address in this posting. I am overjoyed to have my brother in blood become my brother in Christ.

These photos were taken earlier today after the Divine Liturgy. They don't really have much to do with Lazarus Saturday but I like how they turned out.

April 11, 2008

A Working Class Hero

My brother Terry sent me this video. Very interesting.

Old Blue Bridge

This photo was taken on the old two-lane blue bridge that spans the St. Marys River with the north end anchored in Georgia and the south end anchored in Florida. Earlier this week there was an accident on the bridge (almost perfectly on the state line) involving a pickup truck, a tractor trailer and a small car. Fortunately no one was killed but one of the drivers suffered a very broken leg.

It is an old bridge that was repainted and refurbished just a few years ago. The steel bridge is a landmark in the community, a literal bridge to the history and heritage of the county. Only once have I seen it open to river traffic. It is hand cranked and pivots in the middle until the entire span is parallel with the river.

I really like this photo. The surface is fractured yet the structure of the bridge is still reflected. Perhaps this is an apt metaphor of us all as we our journey through life to salvation. We may be cracked, scarred and imperfect yet we are still becoming the image of our Maker.

April 8, 2008

Get Thee Behind Me Satan

This is a video of Billy Joe Shaver's song "Get Thee Behind Me Satan" (he's joined by John Anderson). He is in my opinion one of the top two or three country and western artists ever. Billy Joe is a good singer and performer but his real talent is songwriting. His life is an amazing story which often finds its way into his songs. After losing his son and wife in the space of a year he found consolation in the welcoming arms of Christ. I know this is not Orthodox but put the theology aside and enjoy a song by a man who feels very strongly about his convictions.

April 7, 2008

Fortune Cookie And Flashlight

These photos were taken a few moments ago in my kitchen. I put a fortune cookie in the middle of the stovetop and broke out the flashlight. Double click on each photo and check out the detail.

April 5, 2008

A Compass With No North

Like the Minotaur lost in the labyrinth I search. The path doubled back, the way elusive. For me the pen is heavier than the sword. A man who starts but rarely finishes. Not a firebrand, a dud match.

Tried for the warrior-poet, I am neither. Notebooks, journals full of words pressed together in the dark. Words words words. A mouth full of clichés. A lifeboat caught in a maelström, a compass with no north. Memory closets cluttered, the bone dry rattle dancing in the dust. Hallways that lead nowhere, barred doors, opaque windows. Too much seeker, never enough doer.

I think often on death. Not death as an abstract concept, death as absolute/concrete reality. My own death. To what greater purpose have I put my life while waiting for the deus ex machina to show? We cannot all do great things, but the little things count.

I feel it
Perched high up on vision’s periphery
The blue black bird,
Stranger to me.
Down drops death
The drop fast, the trauma blunt.
A controlled fall
The hammer blow
The shock to the system.