“Slip sliding away….”

Panic attack vocabulary

Most of the time, I come across as a happy-go-lucky woman who is happy with her life. And for the majority of the time, I am exactly what I seem. There are times, however, when things get to me and I walk around in a daze. I feel like the things in my head are going to make me insane. I feel my confidence and happiness “slip sliding away,” as the song lyrics go.

Whoa God knows, God makes his plan;

the information is unavailable to the mortal man.

We’re working our jobs, collecting our pay,

Believe we’re gliding down the highway, when we’re slip sliding away.

Slip sliding away;

You know the nearer your destination, the more you’re slip sliding away.

Simon and GARFUNKEL

And every so often, I think of this song as it applies to my life. It’s similar to the adage that when you strive to be closer to God, that’s when the devil slips closer, in order to steal your soul from God. I had a priest once admonish me to never pray for patience, because “that’s when all hell breaks loose.” Things will go chaotic all around you, so you can learn to be patient. Patience is not a gift; it is a learned response to your surroundings. And God loves us to learn things for ourselves.

symptoms and signs

I have been having this latent response to Covid, which simulates some of the symptoms of panic attacks – the trembling and some sort of “electric” sensation on my skin, along with an accelerated heart rate. But it is nothing compared to a full-on panic attack. I woke at 5:30am the other morning, sure that I was dying or the world was ending. Something catastrophic was coming my way. And unlike the leftovers from Covid, it did not end when I got up. I left hubby snoring, but the dogs and I went to the living room. I tried praying. Then I remembered my deep breathing exercises I was taught in the hospital. That seemed to help. But quite honestly, it took the constant repetition of the Jesus Prayer to get me calmed down, and about an hour of it, too, combined with breathing in and out as I prayed. Being steadfast and consistent in prayer was a blessing for me that morning!

Jesus Prayer

I was recently able to share this prayer with a friend. In the eastern churches, we do not commonly pray the Rosary, nor do we use the rosary prayer beads. Instead, we have prayer ropes. They are known as “chotki” in the Greek. There are many types of them. But as you touch each knot, you pray the Jesus Prayer. Hundreds of them a day. The Roman Catholic Saint, Jose Maria Escriva, who founded Opus Dei (the Work of God) said that all tasks, all work, all day can be a prayer to God and can assist you towards sanctification. If you dedicate your works during the day to God, they become holy. And you mindfully ask God to consider the works of your hands as a holy work for Him. You elevate the simplest tasks to holy ones, by dedicating them to God. In the same way, the Jesus Prayer helps us dedicate our life, our works, our thoughts, our moments, to God.

Large and small prayer ropes

As I was panicking, I imagined myself grabbing those knots on my prayer rope (mine was in our bedroom with my snoring husband). I wear the smaller wrist style above. The larger one is usually worn by clergy, as it has 150 knots. But I know lay people who also wear them. The villain in the Iron Man movie, played by Mickey Rourke, wore the 150-knot prayer rope wrapped around his wrist. I spotted it the last time we watched the movie, and smiled. He may have been a villain, but the man prayed! LOL!

Genesis 2

One of the many images floating around my head at 5:30am was this one. The Flat Earth as depicted in Genesis 2 in the Bible. I have many friends who are now espousing this theory, versus our learned globe and universe and solar system, etc. My dad immigrated to the USA to work on the space program. And I’ve written about this in previous posts. But now more information is coming out and I am trying to remain open to what I do not know. To what is possible, even probable. And to allow myself to explore what I have been taught my entire life, in light of different information. I majored in Forensic Anthropology and Physiology, with a minor in Biblical Archeology. I want a refund. I am learning so much and my brain is totally like the emoji…

My exploding brain!!

This is just one topic waking me up. There are so many red pills and rabbit holes to explore. And so many things that do not add up with what I was taught. The “Great Awakening” is what is happening to so many of us. Our former reality is slip sliding away. Truly.

True World Map by Geographical Size

Another one of the images in my head is this map. If you take the measurements of each country and each continent, and you map them out, there is a big difference between what we are used to seeing and reality. “Ego-centric,” “Christo-centric,” “Ethno-centric” are all terms that are used when we look at modern maps. Europeans drew them. Africa was much smaller than the USA, for example. Or Greenland! It’s barely visible! Look at the above map and then go look at a modern one. It boggles the mind. On and on this whirlwind of discovery goes. More and more truths are being revealed. And more will come out.

It’s the ultimate…

The economy is tanking, and it’s on purpose. The world’s food supply is being sabotaged, also on purpose. The elites are panicking and trying to hold on to their mythical power over us common folk. There are some on the world stage who say “enough is enough” and want to save our cultures and our mores before they disappear into the transgendered, inherently evil, multi-verse known to some as the “NWO,” or “New World Order.” Many of our presidents have spoken in public about helping to “usher in the New World Order.” President Bush Sr. was one of them. Clinton. Bush Jr. Obama. Biden (Well, he doesn’t truly say a whole lot – he is just not capable). Needless to say, things are heating up and us little peons, the debt slaves, are getting the brunt of the moves in this chess game. And quite honestly, it keeps me awake. I worry. Incessantly. And it brings on these panic attacks.

Isn’t that lovely???

But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Will you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you now live? But for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

Joshua 24:15

I cannot help but think God is in all things…even the way our history has been distorted. The way He has allowed us to be manipulated. Because if it is all served on a platter, we will not appreciate, nor value, what He gives us. Can you imagine walking streets of gold, being happy all the time, praising God like breathing in and out? Heaven! But, as I stated above, God loves us to learn for ourselves. And I am learning so much – exploding brains and panic attacks! Would I prefer the easier route? You betcha! But there is a great saying, and I believe it is important to keep at the forefront of all of this chaos and noise:

The road to hell and the stairway to heaven…hmmmm….

And today, as I started to panic, I straightened the house, I folded laundry, I started dinner, and I prayed – over and over again, “Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” With the way the world is careening out of our norm, I do think prayer is paramount. That and a well-stocked pantry. Because things are going to get much worse, before they can get better. The evil has been running rampant all over this world for generations – it’s going to take real effort to defeat it. I may not be on the “frontlines,” but I can do what I can to share information, and the best thing I can do is arm myself and pray.

The Armor of God

“…nothing before His love…”

Ascension174 Today we celebrate the feast of the Ascension.  This is the day Our Lord ascended to His Father, Body and Soul.  This day should change how people think of eternity, and how they think of death.  As Christians, we believe Christ rose from the dead after three days.  We believe the account in the Book of Acts when we are told that He spent 40 days among His Apostles.

“The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when He was taken up to heaven, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen. To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God…” (Acts 1:1-3).

Ascension IconIn the Book of Acts, we hear of many of the “proofs” given to His followers that He had, indeed, risen from the dead, as He foretold.  We believe this because eyewitnesses tell us, through this written record, but also through faith.  In the west, bells are normally rung at the moment of “transubstantiation,” or the point at which Jesus becomes present, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, in the appearance of bread and wine.  In the east, we take the moment on faith, not delineating exactly when Christ manifests Himself on the altar, but we believe He is present.  We also believe He is equally present in His Word…which is why in the east, there is a procession before the Gospel is read, with the Gospel book held high and bows are made as the priest and deacon walk by with the Gospel, the same as when the Holy Gifts are brought to the altar. We also incense at both points in our Liturgy.  God is present in His people, in His word, and in His Body and Blood during communion – each is equal in many ways for those of us in the east. It is belief that what we do here on earth is mirrored in heaven.  We believe.  We believe it all.

The Ascension, as pictured in an icon above, is about so much more than what was written down.  Christ never set aside the fact or the reality that He was God.  He never set aside the fact or reality that He was Man.  He suffered for us in his Humanity.  He suffered just as we do, in all things except for Sin.  He was the “God made man.”  When He rose after the 40 days He spent instructing and being present to His apostles, He rose fully man, and fully God.  But He rose in the aspect of His Humanity, becoming the Risen Lord, the Lord of Hosts, in His Humanity.  We strive to be like Him.  As Christians it is our goal to become as Christ-like to everyone (and to ourselves) as we can be.  We believe that becoming Christ-like is the one true path to our eternity in Heaven, sharing it with God Himself.  Because we believe all of this, and we have written records of this event, and we have historical anecdotes about this and many of the events in the life of Christ (my minor in college was Biblical archeology – trust me, we have the proofs) we need to take a leap in our logical thinking here.  Take a leap of faith, if you want to call it that.  What is the leap?  It is called, “Theosis,” or becoming like God.  It is a progression we make in our spirituality in that we believe we will be present in eternity with God in our humanity.  That means that God, who resides in the heavenly realms in His Humanity, will welcome us to the same place, in our human bodies.  Christ deified His human form by rising into Heaven in His humanity; we will, as well, be welcomed into heaven in our human forms…we will be deified, too.

So many people freak out when you talk about this. But it is a thread of philosophy running through Christianity that has an actual name – Theosis.  It is such a huge subject and such a hard truth, that if you google it, you will be amazed at how many resources touch on the subject.  One article I enjoyed is linked here: http://www.antiochian.org/content/theosis-partaking-divine-nature

The goal in life is to be forgiven, to reach the heavenly realms and reside for eternity with God.  For me, if I am allowed through those “Pearly Gates,” I will be thrilled to just be allowed in.  Nosebleed seats work great for me.  The Ascension is a promise that our human nature can participate in the divine nature.  We will be among the saints who have gone before us.  People, just like you and me, who pursued heaven above all else.  In our culture today, that is not the popular thing to say or be a part of; certainly not the subject of any reality show I know of.  And most certainly not tweeting or twittering, instagramming or posting photos of those trying to become saints!  Our children’s heroes are not those struggling with their own demons and personal sanctity; most often they are sports or singing stars.  And we need to hold up the saints as heroes in our homes, rather than the other categories more prominent in our culture.

There is a movement that is based on “your body is a temple,” (and the western aspect of Theosis) and it is called, The Theology of the Body.”  (http://thetheologyofthebody.com/)  The Roman Catholic Church is trying to teach this premise, in order for our young people, and even us older folks, to have a more profound view of their/our bodies.  (http://catholiceducation.org/articles/sexuality/se0058.html)  Our bodies will be deified through our own Resurrection experience through death. And for many people these days, they do not respect others, let alone themselves or one another’s physical bodies.  Theology of the Body promotes this sense of the sacred in humanity, that within each of us, the spark of Godliness resides.  We are children of God and within each of us resides this essence of God (in the east we refer to this as the nous, or nesting place of God present in each of us).  We have the humanity of man before the Fall of Adam and Eve (Original Man); we have the struggle of man through the humanity of and sacrifice of Christ (Historical Man), and we have our own essence of self in the resurrected bodies we present to God in heaven (Eschatological Man).  If we take this theology of Theosis and the Theology of the Body and truly look at them, through the lens of the Ascension of Christ celebrated today, it should cause us to stop in our tracks.  If we become deified and perfected through our faith in the Ascended Lord, how much more should we respect our own bodies (for they will be with us through eternity) and the bodies of others?!  They truly are the Temple of the Lord.

Elder Porphyrios

 

“What do we do with it?”

IMG_5362We had the most wonderful time yesterday.  We have friends who we have known since we were all much younger and their eldest son was married yesterday. Boy, what a great wedding.  The thing that set it apart was the simplistic sincerity in each detail.  There were few of us (about 50 or 60) in a large parish church that was not overly decorated and the decorations they did use were all hand-made.  The clothes worn by the attendants were simple and tasteful (the girls wore cowboy boots, as did the bride) and the ceremony was simple, the readings perfect for them, and the singing was wonderful (the sister of the groom did a phenomenal job!).  Father’s homily was really good and you could tell he spent some time with the couple. We laughed with his stories and we just felt blessed to be there. The light coming in through the casement windows cast a surreal look over it all and I just sat there and smiled; I couldn’t help myself!

IMG_5358It is fun to see our friend’s children grow up and become husbands and wives, and eventually, parents. It was another example of the continuity of life.  A couple found each other on their first day of college and 5 years later, they are married.  They knew from that first day and never wavered in their love or commitment to one another. I am such a sap for a good love story!

This couple gave me confidence in our young people! They chose to keep things very simple and they made so much of what they shared with us. The most amazing was their flowers – all made of paper! They had to let me see them up close to believe they were paper!  So wonderful.  They also took the time to learn to dance and their first dance had us all in tears.  It was just such a beautiful way for them to start their marriage. One of the groom’s brothers played his Ukelele and serenaded his brother and mother for their dance – not a dry eye in the place! (Somewhere Over the Rainbow!! The same version as in the movie, 50 First Dates!).  Even their centerpieces were crafted by the family and it helped to make it so personal and tight – like a community of families had come together to worship and celebrate together. It felt like a glimpse into another realm.

1069393_737670656253509_1832234864_n“Acquire the Spirit of Peace and a thousand souls around you will be saved!”                    St. Seraphim of Sarov.

And for me, it just became so clear.  We were surrounded by all these people who had one thought – to support and love this couple who were starting out together.  They all shared it with one mind; it was almost palatable.   For the record, there were quite a few people I had never met before, most of whom had come to our area specifically for the wedding.  So these people came together, as one, without knowing each other, but with one heart and one goal in mind – this young couple. It shows just how much we can affect those around us.  I love that quote above.  Imagine if we all acquired this sense of deep-seated peace, where we know, to our marrow, that regardless of our behavior, regardless of our doubts, regardless of our words or action, God’s got our back? Or as Mark Hart the Bible Geek likes to say, “God’s got this”!!!

Fr. Stephen Freeman said, “Each of us (certainly in our Baptism and Chrismation) have been given the grace of God for our salvation – that is to bring forth the fruit of the Spirit and to conform us to the image of God in Christ. The question is what do we do with it?”  And in his article, “What St. Seraphim Meant,” he goes on to quote the Saint again:

You cannot be too gentle, too kind. Shun even to appear harsh in your treatment of each other. Joy, radiant joy, streams from the face of him who gives and kindles joy in the heart of him who receives.”

He tells us that we simply cannot be too kind.  It is a stark reminder that the world around us is NOT a kind place.  Yesterday we shared a beautiful day with people all around us that were sincerely joyous. There were guests present who had flown in from as far away as New York.  They could not get over the beauty of the place in which we live.  They were overwhelmed by what we see, and are privileged to see, everyday. They kept rushing outside to take photos as the sun made its play on the snow and trees.  As the sun began to set, the colors and light on the mountains were overwhelmingly beautiful. The environment made their joy even greater! Everyone in that small lodge was there, laughing, feasting, dancing, and celebrating. You could not help but smile at people you did not even know.  I wanted, so much, to bottle that up and share it with everyone I see, day after day, after day.

1972401_737024466318128_1850487592_nAs Fr. Stephen said, we are all given this grace, but “what do we do with it?” Yesterday I was shown that we share it.  We certainly do not hide our light under a bushel basket, but rather we place our light on a candle stand, where it can light the whole room (Matthew 5:15).  And isn’t that part of the Great Command from Christ, A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)?  

Through Grace we are given glimpses into heaven; glimpses into what eternity can, and should be.  One of the readings they chose yesterday, in which love was explained (1Cor13) has this phrase that I treasure, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.” (1Cor 13:12).  This line promises me everything will come, in its time. I have had these moments of complete clarity, but they have been fleeting, coming in spurts, with no regularity to them.  As I progress on this road of salvation, or Theosis, God allows my glimpses to be more clear, regular, and far more enticing. It seems like the more you know, the more you realize what you don’t know, and the more you want to learn.  Our process of salvation occurs over our lifetime.  We struggle, we fall, but we get back up and we keep on trudging forward.  And that is the beauty of this Divine Grace we have been given…we have the strength, the fortitude, and the resolve, to get back up again! We keep growing and learning through God’s Grace acting in us, and on us.  And that same Grace drives us to love more fully, and to want to share this love with those around us.

This Lent is becoming more fortuitous the longer it goes on.  It’s wonderful that God allows such a simple thing like a Thursday-afternoon, sunshine-filled, lovely wedding to become a lesson in my salvation.  And a glimpse into what being a part of the Heavenly Kingdom will be like.  We’ll be laughing, feasting, dancing, and celebrating together, filled with the joy of Christ in our hearts.

Blessed Lent.

Holy Season of Lent