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.
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.
Just posted yesterday a talk I gave on March 27 to the Institute for Christian Unity on Orthodox Worship in Five Senses. Enjoy!
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
Central Park, NYC
One of my favorite figures of the 19th century urban renewal and nature conservation is Frederick Law Olmsted. His head office Fairsted, located in Brookline, MA, is a lesser known National Historic Site, and he is most famous as the founder of American landscape architecture and the chief designer of New York City’s Central Park. Olmsted’s idea of a metropark was different from the highly cultivated gardens of Europe and Britain. He wanted his city parks to be easily accessible by all people from multiple points, but have the feeling like one has just stepped into a remote, but protected wilderness. Kolomenskoye is a city park in the southern part of Moscow that reminds me the most of Olmsted’s vision, for it is accessible but not overly cultivated, wild but well kept enough to let the little ones roam freely. Continue reading
Surgut! Mama’s home town full of friends and cousins. Everywhere is close, even the airport! In a small town it is easy to find a store or church and there are many sites to see. Surprises like snow in May is quite normal and extreme weather all year round. Come see it for yourself, but bring warm clothes!