Having a rough day today. My teenager was away at camp for 10 days and I guess he missed us because he chose to share the bug he picked up at camp with me! I am sick and it is making me cranky! This morning, there were 3 magpies in our front yard – two on the lawn and one in a tree – having a very loud argument. For those of you who are familiar with these large, loud birds, you know what I mean. Even our cat, who is nick-named, “Scaredy-cat,” was angry with these birds. Her back was arched and she was hissing at them, as she watched them from the front window! I woefully needed coffee to get my head to function and to help me wake up! Ha-Ha! Not a fun way to be woken up when you have a lousy head cold. I am trying to get better soon, because I am flying 5+ hours to California to see my new grand daughter, and to visit “memory homes” with my mom. It makes me sad, just prepping for the trip. Sad because I will have to leave my son, his wife, and their new baby and sad because I will have to leave my mom and I am not sure how many visits with her I have left.
I have been struck with the cycle of life recently. Our deacon had a stroke this past week. Last weekend, he was his smiling self and then he was not. And yesterday, a dear friend of ours’ daughter had their first grand child. Just talking with her today was so much fun. I was lucky in that we already have two grandchildren and our third is on her way, so I knew the overwhelming sense of love my friend would experience. And she did not disappoint! The pure joy in her voice was incredible to share. I also spoke with a sibling about my mom and her encroaching Alzheimer’s and how we’re all going to handle it. It just seems that life is constantly cycling through and I was never in a place to really notice it until now. I guess seeing as how I am a “senior” citizen and all, I notice this tenuous life cycle we have here on earth, while preparing for our eternity in heaven.
It is such a joy to share all these things that happen in life with those we love, those we meet, and those we may not even know. The little joys are incredible. As I watch my son and his little family, I see so many moments I had with him as a boy. Times of joy that I hold closely in my heart. There are smells and sounds, visions and memories that I will have always in my heart, that warm me and fill me with joy on days when loud birds wake me and I am sneezing, sleepy, and cranky! The joy of an ever-expanding family through the marriages of our children, the births of our grandchildren, and even the deaths of parents….we are cycling through life and it seems like it is getting faster and faster, and more and more frightening, the older I get! Thanks be to God for my family, friends, and my faith. I am blessed.
And when I am stressed or angry, or feel out of sorts, there are memories and sights and sounds and smells that reinvigorate me, that I hold deep inside of me and are a part of my living faith. I have such fond memories of many, many, midnight Liturgies of Pasca, swinging the lamps in preparation for the big entry; of meat dishes and their smells and tastes after the long fast of Lent; of songs and scents we only experience at different holidays. I love being Byzantine and having dishes which are served on one day a year, using recipes passed down from mother to daughter over centuries of Christianity; recipes that have not changed in thousands of years. I love feeling connected to Our Lord, His Apostles, and the early Church, knowing we use the same incense, the same tones and songs, the same words of the Gospel, that they experienced, too.
Someone asked me on Sunday what drew me to become Byzantine. One particular memory, which I have shared in posts before, was listening to our Deacon intone “Sophia, Orthoi” while processing in with the Gospel Book. It took me back in time to the Apostolic Church and the connection was so real, I did not want to ever lose it. The sounds of the tones used, the smell of the incense, the way in which the Parish participated, took me back in time and I loved feeling that. The Holy Icons, the Holy Fans, the words of the liturgy, the vestments worn by the priests and deacons…they all brought me into communion with our Lord and our faith. I love history and tradition, so anything connecting back to the Apostles is wonderful in my eyes. I love the unbroken tradition and the historical connection through text, song and scents, textiles and foods. It’s pretty comforting for me; it grounds me.
And as this week has demonstrated to me once again, we are cycling through life’s experiences at a rapid clip. My emotions and my health are all over the map. Some days are incredible; some not so much – like today. Times are tough right now, but our blessings are inordinate. And as each thing comes to me, I earnestly try to thank God for these experiences, to seek His guidance, and to wait on Him and His will for my life.
The highlight of my trip south will be the baptism of our grand daughter. Although there will be lots of people and families baptizing their children, I am so thrilled to be there for this sacrament for her, and for her parents. The changes our family has been through over the past year of weddings, births, and deaths…our emotions are pretty fraught with tension. I will be saying goodbye to my son and his little family, and the ability to hold (and smell – I love baby smells!!) my little grand daughter. I will be bidding my mom goodbye and I am not sure if more visits are in store for us or not. My heart is so torn. But through all these cycles of life, I thank you, God, for reminding me of these blessings and the love I have been privileged to share.