#bloginstead….

I haven’t been very good at daily posting. Sorry to everyone who gave up FB and actually reads my blog! I gave up Facebook last year and I honestly don’t miss it. Less drama. I do miss local things like Facebook Marketplace, but my DIL or son will put ads up for me, and keep me abreast of local things happening. Our community here is relatively small in comparison to most places, so staying in touch via others is pretty easy.

#bloginstead is a great idea. We can have meaningful dialogue about things that really matter. And some of the fun things, too, which are uniquely ours to share. I thought I would share some of our Sunday with you! We chose to attend 9am services. And I wore some “warm” jeans, a long-sleeved shirt, a vest, with a scarf and ear muffs, and my heavy socks with my favorite Swiss brushed wool clogs. (It is too cold for skirts/dresses!!). Silly me. I keep my car in a heated garage (trust me, in Alaska, it is pretty much necessary) and my husband shares the other half with my son, as they trade off keeping their trucks warm using block heaters. We don’t get sunrise until well after 10am, and so off we went, in the dark, to Church. We parked semi-close to the door. I had my heavy coat in the back seat. We get out of the car and the wind smacks us. It was 10-degrees (which is a heat wave compared to our recent bout of -27, etc -daily- over the past week) but with that wind chill, I actually yelped! LOL! Did I think to stop and grab my coat? I did not. Off we ran into Church. Afterwards, we dashed out into the cold and wind to the car (which we had remotely started) and hurried up to turn on the heated seats! We drove into the neighboring town of Palmer, where it was really, really windy. We literally ran down the street into our favorite Sunday eatery, and grabbed a booth by the window. As we sat down, the waitress was already there with hot coffee!! I was shivering, which is something I rarely do. I had, once again, left the big coat in the car. There is a saying that “there is no bad weather, just bad gear.” Truth! My warm, fur-lined jacket was in the car! Again! And to be honest, this is one of the first times I was this cold, in the 7 years we have lived here. This was our view of the local mountains from our booth. Yes, that is solid ice on the road!! LOL! And even though you cannot see blowing snow, the wind was howling.

Living in Alaska is not for everyone. At breakfast we chatted about how much our lives have changed since we relocated here. It is much more about weather – I have three weather apps on my phone and compare notes from each to choose outings and clothing! And some days, staying indoors around our fire is the best option! Today, with the very light snowfall we are having, along with our windy weather, we opted to hear the Word of God, get some wisdom from our priest and the deacon, and afterwards to have a yummy breakfast, just the two of us. With it being “just the two of us” most of the time, this almost-empty-nest thing is not so bad. Much faster seating when you go to eat!

The winds continued to buffet us on our drive home to Wasilla. When we got home, my husband’s dog, Kolbe, was thrilled to see him and is glued to his side as he works on the heating mechanism in his Ford F-150 (in the heated garage). Poor man about froze when his heater went out in the truck!!! His sole companion is that 70-lb, 10 month old puppy on the front seat, watching his every move as he tries to repair that heating mechanism. After all our years of marriage, our many hunting dogs, and even our mini Schnauzers, we just never thought “THE DOG” in his life would be a Standard Poodle! Our sons still crack up about it. But honestly he is the best dog, and he does not shed a hair! And he does not smell like a dog, either. Love, love, love this breed!!

Blessed Sunday, #bloginstead-ers! Stay warm, stay close to family and friends, and get your prayer on for this next week. I am so excited to be using my prayer companion from http://www.Orthodoxmom.com! You should check it out! Blessings as we wean off social media! I vote we keep this going. I think it is good for my soul and it’s wonderful meeting and getting to know all of you, as well! Blessings…

 

“…everything I have commanded you…”

I have been struggling with perspective; point of view. There are just so many things that change when perspective is changed.

When you marry and have children, you know those kids. You know each child far differently than even your spouse does, your parents as grandparents, and all the other people who meet and get to know your child. When we were foster parents, a social worker once asked us how we would raise our sons, and how they would be thought of, by passersby on the street? When new people met our kids, what would their opinions be? They would not know the fun, adorable child we know. They would form their own opinions, based on our children’s personalities. It would also be based on their perspective.

There have been so many issues in the world lately. Decisions are made that some people cannot comprehend. Because they don’t have the full perspective. They don’t have the overview. For example, when Christ told the Apostles to …”therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20) the Apostles did as He instructed. But they had no idea what the end results would be, nor His reasoning. Because they did not have the same perspective Christ, the Son of God, had.

When we see things happening around us, we judge based on our personal perspective. Our perspective is colored by who we are. And who we are is how we’ve grown up to be. Those kids I mentioned above are now adults. How are they known? What sort of adults are they? Who judges who they are? We all do.

There is so much heartache, anger, and division in our world. In the Churches, there is division. Friends are pitted against one another over politics and religion, over unions and non-unions, over folk music in Church versus Holy Chant. Homeschooling versus public or private schooling. On and on the divide goes. In our house, it is usually over football teams! Or perhaps mushrooms used in a dish (the youngest hates them). We can find division, based on personal preferences and perspective everywhere. But what about unity? Where are we united? Where are we standing together?

I have chosen to back off from much I was involved with. I am focusing on prayer, and uplifting the people in my life. I walked away from politics because it was so hurtful, but I am supporting the few honest politicians I know. I have left groups I was involved with because they did not profit my soul, or my faith. As I enter into the ending of my life (okay, so I am one 63, but there are fewer years ahead than there are behind me) I want to be sure I have my priorities in line with God. With His will for me. Not the world’s. I stand, toe-to-toe with my fellow believers of God. I stand with my family and friends, through thick and thin. I pray-pray-pray, because as a spiritual warrior, it is the best I can offer, from my perspective.

 

“The road to Emmaus…”

It’s winter. We have snow and it is very cold. This morning, it was -17 on our back deck. It’s been Christmas and then it was New Year’s. Today is Theophany in the Eastern Churches and Epiphany in the Western Churches. Tomorrow it will be one year since my mother-in-law passed away. It has flavored the entire season. When someone who is integral to the lives around them passes away, it leaves a void and it changes things.

As some of you know, I study the Psalms at least twice a year. (Lent and Advent). I’ve been using a wonderful book by Sylvia Leontaritis called, “Songs of Praise.” (Please go to her website, which I will link here). She has now devised a new prayer companion called, “Come and Abide in Me.” I have been waiting for something like this and am so very excited. Sylvia is one of those people who incite you to think differently. She makes you not only look outside the box, but to walk around it, too. In this lovely book, she is encouraging me, urging me, and she is helping my walk with God. Wow. (Please go to her website and check it out. Not only that, on Instagram, too. She even walks you through how to use this Prayer Companion).

In one of the sections, Sylvia suggests having set things to pray for on set days of the week. To be completely honest with you, the idea never crossed my mind. I am not one of those “meatloaf-every-Monday” type of people. And it caused me to pause. What are the things I need to focus on, at least once every week this year? It would be 52 times to beseech God! Wow! Now, as I was thinking of the Anniversary of the Death of my Mother-in-Law (memory eternal, Mary) I kept thinking of her son, my husband. He loves so deeply. He is an amazing worker, friend, father, brother, husband. He is my best friend. He is my blessing in this life. Because of his love for me, we have 3 amazing sons, two daughters-in-law, and as of today, six beautiful grandchildren. He also has a brother, sister, and so many nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, and cousins. It is a huge, wonderful, crazy family.

And so I began to think of my prayer life. What is important? Who needs my prayers at least once a week? What areas do I need to focus on more deeply this year? And even though there are seven days each week, I have far more than just six areas I need to focus on (Sunday is always a day of thanksgiving). Luckily Sylvia is pretty wise. She includes sections for requests from people who have asked you to pray for them. A section on prayers that you love. Lists of saints and what prayers/causes are associated with them. Her prayer companion is just that, a companion.

As we walk our own “Road to Emmaus,” who will be our Companion, and will we recognize Him? Will we hear Him? My challenge, to myself, this next year, is to be more present, more here, and to listen for the Word of God. To know when He speaks to me. To subsume my will to His will. I am going to pray on a myriad of things this year, but I am now better able to focus, thanks to some “Abide in Me” instructions/suggestions. We cannot do this alone; we need some sort of guide or plan. We cannot instruct ourselves in the faith, but need that bulwark of the deposit of our faith. Our Church Fathers, our Saints, the Scriptures. The wisdom, knowledge, prayers we have available to us from the Word of God and His Apostles. In addition, we have our hearts to listen to. We have so much to be thankful for. In this Prayer Companion, there is a section for gratitude, too. We need to re-arrange our thoughts, our lives, our prayers to thankfulness and then intercession, and finally, petition.

For me, I have this lovely man I married to share my journey. We made the choice to get married 35 years ago, and feel more blessed every year. I have friends in desperate need of prayerful intercession and a deeper friendship. An extra push towards the divine; an extra little bit of friendship. Family members are in need of intercession. There are world-wide and national concerns. There are local concerns. Our Lord encompasses all of them; He listens to all these requests, petitions, and words of gratitude. And here in my little corner of the world, I am petitioning God daily and pretty much on a schedule! Go me! LOL! Maybe it’s a New Year’s Resolution in disguise! Off we go…

“O Christ our God, who at all times and in every hour in heaven and on earth, art worshipped and glorified; who art long- suffering, merciful and compassionate; who loves the just and showest mercy upon the sinners; who callest all to salvation through the promise of blessings to come; O Lord in this hour, receive our supplications, and direct our lives according to Thy commandments. Sanctify our souls, hallow our bodies, correct our thoughts, cleanse our minds; deliver us from all tribulation, evil and distress. Encompass us with Thy holy Angels, that guided and guarded by them, we may attain to the unity of the faith and to the knowledge of Thine unapproachable glory, for Thou art blessed Unto ages of ages. Amen.”

 

“Rejoice always in the Lord…”

Gaudete Sunday is today!! What is that? It is the 3rd Sunday in Advent on the western calendar. Gaudete comes from the first word of the entrance antiphon for that day, from Philippians 4: 4,5 and it says, “Rejoice always in the Lord,” or in Latin, “Gaudete in Domino semper.”

It is the Sunday before the Birth of Christ where we think joyously of the Lord coming into this dark, cold, world. “Make a joyful noise to God, all the earth.” Ps 65:1 and “…let them be jubilant with joy!” Ps 67:30. These were the Psalms I read this week. And somehow, I just cannot get the concept of “joy” out of my mind. There is hustle and bustle. There are plans. There is baking (don’t judge me – haven’t baked at all, yet). Decorations to set up. Trees to assemble. Gifts to buy and, for some, to ship across the country. There are Winter Concerts to attend. There are opportunities to interact with our friends and family more often. There are so many Christmas movies on Netflix and Hallmark to watch. And there are more services at Church to attend, to help us prepare. So much going on that we normally are not doing.

We set up our manger scene at the base of our tree, in the front. Our Wise Men are perched nearby on a window sill. They are present, but not in the main scene quite yet. Their time will come soon. Usually I play a game with my kids and hide the baby Jesus all over the house. I tell them that every day we are supposed to be seeking the Christ Child in our lives. So go out and look! I am pretty creative at hiding him. This year, my baby is 21 years old. He’s sort of outgrown it, so the baby Jesus is laying there, all ready for our celebration of His birth, under our tree. We also have a puppy this year and we keep a weathered eye on him, making sure he is not eating the tree or anything on it, or under it.

But this essence of Joy seems fleeting and in short supply this year. And then it hit me. We are looking for happiness, not joy: Happiness is an emotion in which one experiences feelings ranging from contentment and satisfaction to bliss and intense pleasure. Joy is a stronger, less common feeling than happiness.” That is according to “define.com” And that is a practical comparison. I have another one. “It is not from external circumstances but internal attitudes sorrows and joys are born.” St. John Chrysostom. And from a friend’s Spiritual Father: “Acquire joy, not happiness. Happiness is temporary, whereas joy is eternal and can only be found in Christ.”

We have Santa Claus, which is translated from St. Nicholas, who was a Bishop in modern-day Turkey. The one we see today is a caricature of the real St. Nick, the real man, who lived and defended the faith. He was a generous man and he gave freely to others. We have sort of transformed him into lots of things he was not. But we have always felt that the intercession of St. Nicholas (who is the patron of Families) has saved our Christmases in years when we did not think we would be able to have one, and who has interceded for our family for the past 35 years. We were married on the feast of the Holy Family and for our first anniversary, we baptized our first son. The priest took the baby Jesus out, and laid our baby in the manger scene on the altar. It was pretty amazing. And it meant so much to my husband and myself. St. Nicholas has been a part of our family since its inception and we keep an icon of him up all year, as well as an artistic rendering on a nightstand. Santa Claus can obscure the season and the chaos can drown out the reason for it all. That joy can be hard to uncover. But Santa is also one of the ways we keep our historical traditions alive, and I love collecting Santa figurines from around the world. He is the example of the joy in giving we need to find this Christmas.

However you celebrate the season, know that this year is unique. You cannot repeat the memories of your childhood, nor can you recreate days from when your kids were little. We have today. We have this Christmas. The joy of this season, and of our faith; it is an eternal joy. Don’t block that joy, looking for happy moments. Make this the Christmas you recall with joy and love; let that memory make you happy years down the road. Make this Christmas be the most joyous Christmas you have ever had. Make those around you know how much you love them. Let the Lord see you be jubilant with joy” and hear that joyful noise to God.” And feel free to feel joyful today, Gaudete Sunday!

“Rejoice always in the Lord!!”

“…and that time is near.”

As many of you know, we got a Standard Poodle puppy in August. He is now 9 months old. His name is Kolbe. I took that photo above a few minutes ago. It is less than 20-degrees outside and he is looking in the window. He’s been running around the yard, and because it started to snow again (there is snow on his nose) he now wants inside. He is so funny. He does not howl or bark or scratch to be let in the house. He goes to whatever window he thinks you are hiding behind and jumps up and stares you down. It gets light around 10 am or so. Yesterday morning I was in the master bathroom around 8:30 AM and I hear his feet on the windowsill outside (the blinds were still shut). I made my way to the kitchen and he had already run around the yard to the door (we have an acre) and was waiting to be let in. He was so happy with himself, and I was amazed he thought that out and ignored all the dark windows, just going to the one that was lit. Our older dog (aged 14), Poca, sleeps with my son when he is here. When he gets up, she gets up. Sometimes it is not until 11am! So, she was still snoring with my son when Kolbe was running around like a crazy man in the dark, having a ball in the snow.

They are both currently snoring at my feet, having had enough of the cold temps and falling snow. And I just laugh at it all. Here in Alaska, it has not felt like we are getting closer to Christmas. On Thanksgiving, we still had green grass; where friends in California were in white out conditions in the desert, got 6″ of snow, and were having a blast. Friends in Big Bear, CA were actually stuck at their cabin. And pundits were lambasting us about climate change and the warming, etc. My eyeballs and ears hurt with it all. My brain fried a little bit. Then it started to snow…just two days after Thanksgiving. And it has not really stopped for too long since it began again to really snow, this Saturday evening. Hubby used his snowblower on Sunday and now you can’t even tell he was out there.

I just chuckle at all the doomsday people. Weather has become a religion to so many. And it makes me sad. Using a young person who has no scientific training to espouse your theories is almost like child abuse, to me. I’ve read some interesting articles from experts who work in climate science who tell us that, “Yes, climate is changing. It is always changing.” (My weather app is hilarious. “What the forecast – WTF.” He posted something like, “Meteorologist: at what other job can you get paid so well to be wrong 75% of the time? Ha-Ha. Cracks me up). It is not the carbon footprint I leave. It is not too many people. The smog in China still bugs me, so perhaps that does not help. But overall, the earth is doing its own thing and we are too small to have that much of a measurable affect. The ozone has actually healed itself. The earth did not end when the last pundits (aka Al Gore and others) said it would, and I don’t think Kamala Harris or the “Squad” in DC has any inside info to back their idea it will end in 12 years and that we desperately need that “Green Deal.”

Not to get too political or anything, but you know, it is sort of silly. It makes mankind look like he is all that and a slice of bread. And no, I am not going to change my pronoun usage at this stage of my life. “You know all things: the last and the first…” Psalm 138:5 This was part of my Psalter readings for today. And it truly struck me. God knows ALL things. He knows the beginning and everything in between, until the end. The great writer stands with His timeline and knows and sees it all, from one end to the other. Where is mankind in all of this? Scattered all along that timeline. The Lord of All has all this in hand. Whether it be that Hawaii becomes a ski resort with slopes and sleds, and the Siberian Steppes become a desert oasis with lake front cottages, should not concern us. Mankind, and all the creatures He created, will adapt. We will migrate to wherever it is the Lord has prepared for us. But nothing even remotely like that is happening in 12 years, my friend. That is a millennium of work for the earth to change that much. And having lots of children does not affect that. We, just the USA, can feed the world – the entire world – and have leftovers to take to work on Monday. So food is not an issue, either. But mankind is the issue. Well, the power brokers up on that top shelf, the ones who make all these calamitous decisions for power, are the issue. And we need to just say no.

“Behold how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity.” Psalm 132:1 We can dwell in unity if we turn, once again, our faces towards God. If we stop falling for anything that leaves the lips of those who have no faith in God, nor a care for their fellow man. “Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us, for we have had enough of contempt.” Psalm 122:3 Our Christian faith is under attack around the world. In this country, there are “Muslim Community Patrols” in cities on the East Coast (Brooklyn, NY is one). If you deride Muslims in any way, you can be ticketed or even arrested. Is this what our world, our country, is coming to? And in Britain? Or the Netherlands? France? Germany? Oh my gosh, look at what is happening in Iran! Dissenters are being shot in the streets. Our faith and our country are being attacked on a daily basis, through our own media outlets. Misguided and badly informed reporters and “news” outlets make the citizens of this country think the USA is falling apart, and is in terrible condition. It is not. But that does not fit their narrative. There are fewer unemployed than in over 50 years. There are states, who voted purely democratic in the last election, and not a single one has job losses – they all have gains. Prices are dropping. The Federal Reserve is being pressured to drop interest rates. The sky is not falling, people!

“Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 123:8 The Lord who created every spec of who and what we are, and where we live, will not abandon His creation. He may allow us to wallow in our mistakes, but He is forever merciful. Sometimes we all need a lesson well learned. “It was good for me that You have humbled me, that I might learn your statutes.” Psalm 118:71

The Lord has given me so much. And in my careless youth, I squandered those gifts, much like the Prodigal Son. But the Lord allowed me to be humbled, so that I might learn from my mistakes, and see His instruction for the wondrous gift that it is – for me, and for each of us, who accepts His rebuke, and His mercy.

Do I have that inebriate joy my puppy does, so that I roll in the snow in single-digit temperatures? No, I do not. Do I have the joy on a child’s face, when they get to see the beautiful lights decorating our trees for Christmas? Sometimes; some of the time, I do not. My spirit feels battled some days and I want to pull the covers over my head and just not “adult” that day. But, thanks be to God, I have this rambunctious puppy who is in love with life, to encourage me to get out of bed (yeah; he jumps on the bed or licks my hand until I get up). And now, when I think of all the work that is involved with Christmas, I sigh and sort of don’t want to do it. Lots of friends no longer decorate or bake because they have empty nests. Why bother when there are no children to see Christmas, and to share in the joy with us? Well, I think the Lord wants us joyful and celebratory, even if we live alone. His joy is for us. His life was for us. The least we can do is wear an ugly Christmas sweater, or drink some eggnog, or bake a neighbor some cookies; hang some lights, put up a wreath, get some poinsettias. We should still live the liturgical year. This is Advent. We are preparing for the entrance into the world of the baby Jesus, our Lord and Savior. He came, He promised, and He saved us all. All we have to do is accept His gift and ignore all the flotsam and jetsam, all the chaos and cruelty, and believe. I believe. Do you?

My husband, the old curmudgeon, stubbornly participated in putting decorations on the house, at my request. He wasn’t planning on it, not really. But I asked for our inflatable/lit manger scene and our lit, 8-foot-tall, iron moose in the front yard. That was really all I wanted. It makes me happy. Well, he sort of got into the spirit and we have lit garland on our front door; the moose and manger are up, and there are lights on the front of the house. But when he went to get some more hangers for the lights, he bought me a surprise. He got ornaments for my favorite tree out back. When I sit in the living room, it is what I look out at and I just love it. It used to be surrounded by Birch trees and undergrowth, but he cut it all away this summer. The tree got sunlight and it is just turning out to be a lovely Spruce tree. I just really like it. So without my knowledge, he hung ornaments on it for me, in the snow. He promised lights for it when he returns from his business trip on Thursday. Will anyone else see the tree? Probably not, since it is in our fenced back yard. Our grandchildren might, if everyone stays healthy and we can actually do Christmas with them. But he did that for me. Just for me and my Christmas spirit. And he was really smiling. Because the good he did made him feel good, too.

“…But where there are good relationships, where love binds the family together and to God, there happiness is always to be found.” St. Seraphim of Sarov

You can barely see the ornaments, but in real life, they are much clearer. And I rejoice each time I see it. It gives me such hope. If one, little act of kindness, can have such a lasting affect on me, can you imagine what we all could do if we chose to follow God’s precepts, to truly love even our enemy? We would erase so much evil in this world. The silent majority, the Christians who out-number all other beliefs (yes, even Muslims) need to stop being so quiet. We need to be kind, but we need to make some noise! We need to call out injustice and lies and malfeasance when we see it. We need to say no, and to know when enough is enough. Have you drawn your line in the sand, yet? I have. If each of us did that, decided where we stood on important matters like faith and freedom, and chose to stand for those beliefs, Christmas would be celebrated in every country, in every home, and in every heart. And so for me, I anticipate this Christmas with a loving and excited heart; a heart filled with hope. I cannot wait for Christ to enter into this world, once again, at the cave in Bethlehem.

Happy Advent – “The Virgin is on her way….”

 

 

“…when you hear this news…”

The Lord is calling. Always calling. But as I have posted about before, are we listening??? And how do we know it is of God? Or is it just more static?

Oh my gosh, the past twelve days, I have been knocked down by a virus in my lungs and sinuses. It has really laid me out. And I have been intellectually bored silly, when I’m not sneezing or coughing! My granddaughters introduced me to this game, which is now on my phone, we lovingly call the “dot game.” I am seeing dots in my sleep. I have been obsessed. (And so has my husband. Ha-Ha!). But it is about the only thing I have had the energy to do! Except for read and listen to podcasts. Oh, and to be honest, watch all the seasons of the “Holiday Baking Championship.” Yeah; I love it. Who knew?

When you really isolate yourself, the sources of information become so crystal clear, purely because they are so isolated. I am getting specific information and because I spent the better part of a week all alone, I know exactly where it all came from. I have reached out via email and texts to bounce things off friends, when I have subjects I want to chat about. And some of the feedback has been wonderful. It has made me think. And it has been precise and specific. Which has been great.

Sometimes we are poised for change. We are open to it. We, if we don’t kid ourselves, are waiting for it. And change is hard – very hard. The impetus can come from the chaos around us. We can pick out little, minute things that drastically influence our hearts and souls. And sometimes the words that strike us are through friends. Friends we trust and respect. Recently, a friend said some things to me and I just cannot get her sentences out of my head. She was recalling her lamenting quite a few years ago about some issues in the Church. She whined to a priest and he responded with, “Who’s Church is it?” She replied, “God’s.” And his response, which is what I cannot get out of my head, was “Well, let Him take care of it!” Wow. We humans think we can fix anything we feel isn’t going to our perceived expectations. We espouse faith in God, steadfastness of our faith in the Church, and yet we think, “He’s not doing a very good job of it.” Ha-Ha! And therein, my friends, is where this idleness brought on by illness has gotten me in trouble. Too much quiet time to think.

There is so much going on in the world right now. And I find myself getting all caught up in it. I looked over at my husband, sitting in his chair, reading on his phone. I asked him what he was doing, and he said, “Reading stuff and getting mad.” And it made me think, “Why do we read this stuff if it just makes us angry? Why do we get involved in things that destroy our peace? Some things, granted, are worthy to get involved with. There are causes that are important. Causes that do make a difference. But on the national scale? One person, it can be argued, can make a difference. But if you are not started in that field at a young age, or working the “right channels,” what happens nationally is out of our hands. Before you get all over me for it, give it a thought. What can I do by getting into the fray? I delved into things locally and on the statewide level. It got me nowhere. I wasn’t affecting change. I believe it is because I don’t have lots of spare cash to throw at causes. I do have a voice, and I have connections through friends, but once I was not providing enough, I was no longer needed. And so much of politics is just noise. No one does anything, but spew words. Have you seen the TV news lately? “The View” TV show? Listen to the radio? Listen to podcasts? It is everywhere. And it is angering and divisive and corrosive and it is killing our world.

So a better thought is not what can I do to get into all of this, but rather, what can I do to slow it down or stop it? One of the issues facing religion right now is not just the impact of Muslims immigrating and tearing cultures apart as they do so, but within the larger Church itself. Preachers don’t preach the tough stuff. No one wants to hear what is sinful from the pulpit. We would rather hear about prosperity and the plentiful life. We certainly do not want to hear the top ten – the Ten Commandments. It is much easier to live in sin and be comfortable there, than to be challenged to change. But change is what we are all called to do – otherwise we become part of the problem.

This opportunity to disconnect was given to me in the form of a virus; an illness. And it has been a gift. It has caused me to be able to really funnel where I get my information from, who I interact with, and the reaction it causes in me. Life is far too short to spend your days in anger. Far too short.

If you haven’t realized it yet, we are getting close to the Holiday season. I think we now have, per retailers at least, a season called “Hallowthanksmas” – we sort of skip over a lot of it and right after the 4th of July, we end up celebrating Halloween and straight into Christmas. We get on this fast track to January 1st and we miss all the prep – prep is where we grow and learn. We call this particular period, “Advent.” We forget we are preparing to welcome the Christ Child into our hearts and our homes and get caught up in the trees, ornaments, and gifts. Sigh. It is sad. We are all losing our way. And the anger makes it obvious.

I am planning to reorient myself this Advent. Get into the Spiritual aspect of Christmas and less of the commercial. Tune out more often. Unplug regularly. Continue to control what I hear and from whom I hear information. Guard what I read. Keep my eyes and head and heart focused on what is real. And what brings peace and unity and love. It’s not the internet and it certainly is not mass media. I was told recently that the Priests know what is happening in the world and on the world wide stage. And we need to trust that God has His larger Church in hand. I believe that and therefore I choose faith over hysteria. Faith over “news.” And the quiet peace it brings. Unplugging from the chaos and plugging into my faith. And focusing on the coming of our Lord.

“Today the Virgin is on her way to the cave where she will give birth to the Eternal Word of God in an ineffable manner. Rejoice, therefore, O universe when you hear this news, and glorify with the angels and the shepherds, Him who shall appear as a Child being God from all eternity.” Christmas Kontakion.