The Cape’s Relaxing Magic

Made it to the Cape after my older three went ahead a day early with their uncle and a family friend. They were very happy to see me come along with my van full of bikes, groceries, and fun-in-the sun implements. Timing is perfect as temperatures in Boston soared to an unseasonable 90 degrees, leaving the Cape and the Islands hovering around the high 70s and low 80s: I call it Southern California weather.

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A Sober Exuberance

48205105362_29a15541c3_kTime definitely passes differently at a camp near a monastery. I have asked two people already for the time and the day and both have responded alike that they count the day and the hour not according to their watch or phone, but according to their obedience: when it begins (now), when it ends (soon), when we will eat the next meal (soon enough), and when we will go to bed (before and after prayer). Who needs to measure the day with numbers in such an arrangement?

This monastic pattern of life makes this camp feel very different then even Orthodox camps I have visited in America. For it makes even loud events like sports or singing more subdued, more controlled— a kind of sober exuberance. Continue reading

Pickin’ and Hummin’ in the Harvest

IMG_2259Our family had the great fortune already this fall of attending two celebrations of the harvest with many more to come. The first was a long-standing tradition we have had of going with St. Herman Christian School to our favorite fruit farm in Northborough, MA. The second was a new tradition that we intend to repeat with my parents who now live in the area: the yearly harvest of the largest producer of cranberries in the world, right here in New England! Continue reading

The Never Ending Day

Great & Holy Pascha 2013

Time in this fallen world is often experienced as something we need to use up or even kill in our never-ending pursuit of pleasure and cessation from work. But the irony is that for however long or hard we work, leisure time, that supposed reward at the end of a day’s labor, ever seeks to elude us. Especially in America, we can never seem to work long enough or hard enough to reach it, if pleasure really is the goal we should be seeking at all.

The Epicurean philosophers and their modern Madison Avenue ad agencies bid us to maximize pleasure and minimize pain. The Lord Jesus Christ bids us, rather paradoxically, to take up our cross and die with him. And no one in the history of the world who has taken the Lord’s advice over the Epicureans has ever been sorry for it, for our crucifixion always ends, as His, in resurrection. Continue reading

Blessed to Be Her Father

Just finished updating myself on the recent tragedy at the Sandy Hook School in Newtown, CT last Friday. This story is very close to me not only as a parent, but also as a teacher. I want to know what I can do now to prevent such a future tragedy from occurring again. What powerful posture of defense can I take to ensure the safety of my own children and of the innocents given over to my care during the school day?

Combing the excellent coverage given to the event by the New York Times, I was most struck by the courageous and quick response given voluntarily by one of the fathers of the many young victims:

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Celebrating an Orthodox Advent

I’ve been sitting on this post idea for a while, waiting for time that I could hole away, make my usual draft on paper, and then come to the computer for the final version. But this time of the year conspires to rob every available moment for preparations both real and imagined.

I have blogged before about redeeming the time and finding the reason for any season. Now that we are upon what Christians consider one of the holiest seasons of all, the preparation for the birth of the Savior of the world into our frail human flesh, it is a good time to take at least a few moments to reflect, lest the rush of our many to-do lists keep us from the one thing needful. Continue reading

Redeeming Harvest Time

Redeeming the times for the days are evil…

Such a redemption is the basis for our whole church life with its organization of time around the liturgical cycles of feasts and fasts, of saints and holy events, of celebrations and commemorations of deliverance by the hand of almighty God. While these liturgical cycles are more than adequate to feed and order the spiritual life, it is important similarly to feed the soul with an equally rich and diverse sustenance of cultural and seasonal celebrations. Continue reading

A Never-Sleeping City & the Never-Ending Kingdom

I went on a quick trip to New York City and back to meet with our bishops who reside at the Cathedral in Midtown Manhattan, southwest of Central Park. Is a quick trip to New York City really possible? The phrase “New York Minute” implies a shrinking of time in which one of chronology’s smallest measurements is made even smaller by a large community of urban dwellers seeking to speed it up. Faster… and yet it always takes me longer than expected to get to my destination. Continue reading

Precious Moments for Repentance

Saturday, July 22/August 4, 2012, St. Mary Magdalene

As our time in Russia nears its end, every moment becomes more and more precious. In the morning, we all attend Liturgy at St. Nicholas of Ugresha Monastery just outside of Moscow. It has all the elements of a quintessential spiritual fortress: very tall and slender bell tower, large and substantial cathedral with ample relics for veneration (including one small one of our own St. Herman of Alaska!), plenty of smaller satellite churches for weekday services, and to top it all off, a quiet nearby pond to reflect the brilliance. After lunch, I embark on my adventure of the evening: following directions on the metro to a church that has an English-speaking priest to hear my confession. Continue reading