Promised Land of the Weary and Heavy Laden

IMG_452074 degrees. A very pleasant temperature on most days, but on a day when the ocean water on the south shore of Cape Cod reaches this temperature, it is time to hit the beach! We have been planning this mini-vacation for years as we always travel here on the occasion of a friend’s birthday. But we always come down on a Sunday in mid-August just for the day. This year a forecasted heat wave and my wife’s excellent last minute suggestion sent us scrambling to rearrange work schedules, gather beach toys and supplies, and book a cheap motel near our friends’ bungalow in West Yarmouth. Continue reading

Cultural Camping

6:30am

I cannot believe it has taken our family this long to start camping seriously. It is such a close cousin to the dacha experience in Russia only without the growing of crops, for camping tends to be of much shorter duration than Dacha. Growing up with Asthma, I was rarely able to even go anywhere overnight in a tent. Now that I am older and less affected by allergies, I am making up for lost time in my contact with the natural world. Continue reading

Nothing Can Separate Us From the Love of God

July 4/17, 2015
Feast of the Royal Martyrs Tsar-Martyr Nicholas, Tsaritsa-Martyr Alexandra, the Royal Crown Prince Alexis, the Grand-Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia, and those martyred with them.

When I was younger, I remember being so fearful of separation from my parents. A friend who lost both her parents in a tragic car accident further heightened my fears that at any moment, I could be left instantly an orphan. Now that I am older, I see even more the fragility of this mortal frame, the temporariness of all that we see with the eyes, and the impermanence of all that we hold dear in this world.

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Happy Birthday, Blog

Happy third birthday to this blog! So happy to have all of you reading and commenting. I often think of the great writer and NPR commentator Frederica Matthewes-Green whenever I get the urge to post something. Her general rule of thumb before she sets something to print is to determine whether or not it is something she herself will want to read. On this third birthday of Like Mendicant Monks, I pledge to you dear readers the same thing: That I hope always to set forth something that will enrich me as much if not more than it does you. May our good God who loves humankind give us strength to speak the truth in love whether our audience is thousands, hundreds, or just the neighbor sitting next to us. Amen.

Care for the Soul, a Thing Immortal

Mendicant Monk:

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Sons of Noah Covering Their Father’s Nakedness- Icon in Cathedral of Surgut, Russia

I know some of you who read this post may think I am unaware of the sin that my spiritual father fell into late in this life. I am aware, mourn his fall, and wish for God’s healing on all affected by it. But throwing him under the bus for it is not the Christian response. As we have just passed the one year anniversary of his repose, I prefer to take the stance of Noah’s righteous sons who chose to cover their father’s nakedness. I at least will remember him for the good and pray God’s mercy on the evil.

Originally posted on Like Mendicant Monks...:

Frs.-Herman-and-SeraphimA1Test thyself, who thou art; come to know thy nature; come to know that thy body is mortal, while thy soul is immortal, that our life is two­-sided: one side, proper the flesh, is transitory, while the other, related to the soul, does not admit limitation. Therefore, take heed to thyself, do not dwell on the mortal as eternal, and do not disdain the eternal as transitory. Do not care about the flesh, because it passes away; take care for the soul, a thing immortal.

— Saint Basil the Great

Fr. Herman (Podmoshesky), sometime abbot of St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, died today after a long struggle with Parkinson’s Disease and diabetes. While his wish was for his body to lie in the ground close to his friend and co-struggler in the monastic life, Fr. Seraphim Rose, his precious soul, which he poured out on behalf of so…

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All Things To All Men

Sunday, May 31, 2015
Feast Day of Pentecost

It always happens to me as we near the end of our time in Russia. The battle fatigue sets in from being constantly surrounded by a culture not my own, hearing another tongue I can barely speak myself, and meeting people with whom I miss so many unspoken cultural cues and gestures. In its most extreme form, it is called culture shock, and even the most seasoned travelers are subject to it. The best remedy for it is a kind of cross-cultural humility that’s hard to come by for most Americans, and especially for this one.

Growing up in a small town in the midwest, I found excursions to the big city of Toledo to be enough of a thrill. When we wanted to visit a foreign country, we traveled several hours north and crossed the border into Canada (in those days, they did not even require a passport). With our country surrounded on two borders by oceans, it is easy for us to think of ourselves as the center of the world. The farthest most Americans I knew traveled was down to Florida for Disneyland. But there was one exception to this general rule, and that was those who had accepted the call to be missionaries and spread the Gospel throughout the world. Continue reading