Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Pascha Bread and being the last

"And he shows mercy upon the last, and cares for the first; and to the one he gives, and upon the other he bestows gifts. And he both accepts the deeds, and welcomes the intention, and honors the acts and praises the offering. Wherefore, enter you all into the joy of your Lord; and receive your reward, both the first, and likewise the second. You rich and poor together, hold high festival. You sober and you heedless, honor the day. Rejoice today, both you who have fasted and you who have disregarded the fast. The table is full-laden; feast ye all sumptuously. The calf is fatted; let no one go hungry away."  - From the Paschal Sermon of St. John Chrysostom

In Orthodox churches across the country, we hear the same sermon read during our midnight Pascha service each year. All through Lent we wait for it. We look forward to those words. We anticipate.

I look at my life and notice the ebb and the flow. Each season is different. During some Paschal seasons, I have been the first. I have fasted, not just with my body but with my soul. I have held the hope of the resurrection in my heart from the moment our 40-day journey to Pascha began. 

But some seasons I am the last. This year I was the last.

I fasted in body but neglected my spirit. I doubted my faith and wrestled with  misgivings about the goodness of our Creator. I did not hold onto hope. Yet even so, on Holy Saturday, I baked the Pascha bread and boiled our eggs for dyeing, watching the steam rise in misty ribbons. I sifted and mixed and kneaded until I felt my soul shudder and rumble to life. And in these small actions-- perhaps because of them-- I became ready to celebrate.

And the dough rose like my spirits.

Like Christ.

Like the resurrection.

Like Pascha.

Christ is Risen!

"If any have tarried even until the eleventh hour, let him, also, be not alarmed at his tardiness; for the Lord, who is jealous of his honor, will accept the last even as the first; he gives rest unto him who comes at the eleventh hour, even as unto him who has wrought from the first hour... 
O Death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory? Christ is risen, and you are overthrown. Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen. Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen, and life reigns." - From the Paschal Sermon of St. John Chrysostom

Read the full text of the St. John Crysostom Paschal Sermon HERE
Read about our Orthodox Pascha Service and Lenten preparations HERE

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

My Faith is a Fish (Wednesday Wrestling Guest Post)

Karissa Sorrell, a friend, writer, and fellow Orthodox Christian, created a great Lenten series on her blog for those wrestling with faith. Over the past forty days, writers have used Wednesday Wrestling, to explore how we struggle with faith and life and all things holy. I was excited when she invited me to participate. If you've read my blog these past few months, then you know that my faith has been a struggle for me recently. Here's what I had to say about catching, releasing, and losing (or not) my faith-- or why my faith is like a fish.

"I feel guilty...I haven't prayed in weeks."

The words were a lie, of course--not the part about praying but the part about feeling. I didn't feel guilty. I didn't feel anything really, but I figured that I ought to feel something and pretending to feel bad seemed like a good start. Only it wasn't. Because I didn't-- feel bad, that is.

Here is what I know: two years ago, my son was diagnosed with an irreparable disability and the truth of this has slowly altered my already feeble faith. My footing is unsure and my confidence is frail. I want to trust. I want to look my son in the eye and tell him that God will protect him from harm--but I know it isn't true.

What once was comfort is now confusion. I hear the story of the blind man and wrestle with doubt. I read of the paralytic and wrestle with envy.  I struggle with the very idea of healing when I see that my child, and each of us, is a creature of our earthly habitat-- prone to the same brokenness and decay as the immovable oak rising just outside my kitchen window. Still beautiful, still worthy of sunlight, still rejoicing-- yet bending to the breeze.

It is time to admit that the landscape of my beliefs has changed.

Read the rest of the post HERE.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Sleep Study Multiple Choice ( An Update)

Wait-- You thought I said Sim was having a sleep study
You thought we had a plan?

Ha ha, suckers. Me too.

Here's the deal: Sim got a cold and when Sim gets a cold, sleeping in his cap is too hard. So we rescheduled. Then we rescheduled again because, even after two weeks, Sim is still having a tough time breathing with his cap during sleep. And I'm going a little nuts trying to figure out why.

This is how I look standing over Simeon's crib and staring at him every night.
I wear pearls for all my emotional meltdowns.

And this how I look at work, trying to play it cool all day when I'm really going bananas wondering what my child's sleep is like during naptime.
I don't look as much like Rachel McAdams during the day, unfortunately.

So, the question is, why?! Why isn't Sim sleeping with his cap on?
Is it because he...

a) Is still in the midst of a respiratory infection?
b) Has developed a springtime allergy because he thinks it will match his glasses and add to his general geek-chic persona?
c) Loves his trach like a pet goldfish and wants to keep it forever (even though we all know that little bugger is going to die eventually, right)?
d) Enjoys giving me a wicked case of the Victorian-lady vapors by yanking his trach out without warning at dinner parties and in dirty public restrooms (can one order smelling salts on Amazon? Why yes one can...)?
e) Is a fiendish and coniving toddler motivated by barbarous impulses?

(Please leave your vote in the comments.)

All of these are valid possibilities. I just wish I knew the right answer.

For now, this sleep study is set for April 23rd and, even though I kid about this stuff, the truth is that I'm really disappointed and anxious.  I thought he'd be doing so much better by now and it worries me.  I guess I got my hopes up about this whole bye-bye trach mission.  I know that decannulation will happen eventually, it's just that I want it to happen now or tomorrow.

Prayers, happy thoughts, and (good-good-good) good vibrarions (♫♫giving me the excitations♫♫) are appreciated between now and April 23rd.  Until then, you can find me staring at my child while he sleeps like I'm a creepy-creeper from a horror movie.

Or like I'm a Milford Man.
Good thing whatever is affecting his breathing is not affecting his huggability.


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