The Pleasure of Unexpected Company

IMG_3099May 9/22 Translation of the relics of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker from Myra to Bari, in 1087

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.  Hebrews 13:2

A quiet day was planned at home with an equally quiet evening. I had spent most of the day watching the kids and recouping from an especially busy schedule visiting family and friends. The continuing overcast skies and subarctic temperatures made even playing on the local playground unattractive. My wife was just about to depart for an evening on the town with old school mates when the doorbell rang. Continue reading

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A Moscow Cup of Tea

May 10, 2015
American Mother’s Day

teaMoscow is principally for us a place to gather as many friends and family as we can muster at any given time, and since the observed holiday for Victory Day is tomorrow (Monday), the Sunday gathering at our apartment is more than usually crowded. My American friend and his family come over with fried chicken wings and garlic bread, while my wife’s local cousins bring their children for a sleepover. It is a grand occasion of East meets West with overlapping conversations in Russian and English. But the capital part of the evening after all the eating and customary toasting is the after dinner tea. It is the most vital symbol of the seemingly endless conversation that ensues. Continue reading

Coffee Hour, Russian Style

IMG_0598One of the big temptations in traveling to another land is to expect many of the familiar things there from your home country. Or if those things do not live natively in the host culture, the temptation is to somehow import them. Such a tradition for us is the great American church custom of coffee hour. Yes, that’s right, coffee hour is not a given at churches around the world but is a distinctively American custom for Christians to gather after a Sunday service for at least coffee and donuts and sometimes a whole lot more.

One of the churches we consider our home away from home in Moscow has long held the tradition of refreshments and social mingling after the Sunday Liturgy, but they don’t call it coffee hour and they don’t claim that the custom is borrowed from America. Continue reading

A Routine Vacation

Arrived yesterday to Moscow for our family’s seventh time in the land of the Rus. Mama Friar and our brood of four preceded me by two weeks. It is a great place to vacation as we have established patterns that we easily settle into here. A young family such as ours needs routine even when we are attempting to be adventurous and break out into something new.

Our daily schedule while we are here in Moscow runs more or less as follows. Wake up to morning prayers followed by tea and kasha. After breakfast, the middle of the day is usually a museum or show that is reachable by public transportation (bus, trolley, or subway). We return late afternoon to our apartment for tea and refreshments. Kids go with a designated adult to one of several local (and colorful) playgrounds while the others prepare dinner. In the evening, we gather for the most relaxed meal of the day and the most likely time to receive guests: suppertime. Continue reading

Invitation to Breakfast

Reminds me of a quote from G.K. Chesterton, also about having breakfast (tangentially about the resurrection and a living church):

Plato has told you a truth; but Plato is dead. Shakespeare has startled you with an image; but Shakespeare will not startle you with any more. But imagine what it would be to live with such men still living, to know that Plato might break out with an original lecture to-morrow, or that at any moment Shakespeare might shatter everything with a single song. The man who lives in contact with what he believes to be a living Church is a man always expecting to meet Plato and Shakespeare to-morrow at breakfast.

– From “Authority and the Adventurer” in Orthodoxy the Romance of Faith

CHRIST IS RISEN!!

Marilyn R. Gardner

I love eating breakfast out at restaurants. Perhaps it’s because I rarely do it, but when I do, it’s always a vacation feel – a sense of the unexpected.

Israel, Sea of Galilee (Lake of Tiberias)

So it was with new eyes that I read the line “Come have breakfast” in the gospel of John.

The verse comes after Jesus has been crucified and has risen, appearing to different people. First he is seen by Mary, then by the disciples and finally by others. He’s on the banks of the Sea of Galilee watching the disciples fishing in a boat on the sea. They have fished the entire night and they’ve caught nothing. Their nets and stomachs are empty. But this man on the banks of the sea tells them “Just try it one more time.”

Just one more time.

So they do it. Weary, frustrated, hungry – they still try one more time. And the result does…

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Here’s to Finding a Path for Life

Today we celebrate simultaneously the birthday of my father-in-law and the anniversary of the day he first met his future wife and our baba so many years ago. I hear a toast this evening at dinner that I have never heard before: “Here’s to finding or discovering a path/road for our life.” (za zheezin na darogu in Russian) Continue reading

Family Reunions in the Kingdom of Heaven

In America, we like to start and end our events “on time”, and whenever things don’t strictly correspond to the clock, guests and hosts alike can get pretty disturbed. In Russia and especially here in Sochi, we follow a different kind of clock and feast in a very different  way.

Today is Sunday, the day of the Lord’s resurrection, which is by default always a feast day. After going to morning Liturgy, we return to our aunt’s home to a table laden with delights befitting the day, but as I posted earlier the point is not the delicious food, but the company gathered, which for Sochi allows the largest amount of family not only to gather for a single meal but to live for a while in close proximity to one another.

Continue reading