23 October 2007

There Is No Shadow Of Turning

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” ~James 1:17

“What seem our worst prayers may really be, in God’s eyes, our best. Those, I mean, which are least supported by devotional feeling. For these may come from a deeper level than feeling. God sometimes seems to speak to us most intimately when he catches us, as it were, off our guard.” ~C.S. Lewis

“Don’t be worried on account of the wicked; don’t be jealous of those who do wrong. They will soon disappear like grass that dries up; they will die like plants that wither. Trust in the Lord and do good; live in the land and be safe. Seek your happiness in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desire. Give yourself to the Lord; trust in him, and he will help you; he will make your righteousness shine like the noonday sun. Be patient and wait for the Lord to act; don’t be worried about those who prosper or those who succeed in their evil plans. Don’t give in to worry or anger; it only leads to trouble.” ~Psalm 37:1-8

“…I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” ~Luke 11:9-13

Well, it’s been an interesting few weeks to be sure. After a very busy post-camp season, a trip to Virgina to see Chief Tim, a visit to The Jewett’s, and other general comings and goings, my wife and I were finally getting geared up for our annual trip to what I refer to as my “happy place” – Santa Barbara/Carpinteria, CA. Alack and alas but that trip never occurred. As Janna and I were packing for the trip on Wednesday the 3rd and beginning to get excited to fly out early the next morning, I suddenly realized that perhaps the overwhelming pain that was clenching my gut all afternoon might be more than just bad gas.

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9 October 2003

42nd Diocesan Assembly: A Report

Well, once again it has been a week since I’ve posted. As usual, it’s due to the fact that I’ve been too busy, and mainly because I’ve been out of town. I just spent the last 3 days at the 42nd Diocesan Assembly for the Diocese of the Midwest of the O.C.A. Without going into too much detail, I will simply say that the trip was AWESOME! All agenda items put forward passed overwhelmingly, the fellowship with other priests, deacons, and laymen and women was a true blessing, and I had the great fortune of meeting Fr. Michael Anderson, the youth director for the O.C.A. and also Fr. Robert Kondratick, the Chancellor for the O.C.A. It was my profound honor to sit by Fr. Mike, Fr. Daniel Rentel (our dean) and Igumen Vladimir for dinner. The conversation was heartwarming, as was the vodka and wine…:-) I am so grateful to my parish and the parish council who supported me financially, and for Fr. Joseph who chose to send me as his delegate as he could not attend for medical reasons. As Ginger Clemens said, “One man’s bane is another man’s blessing, eh?” Indeed Ms. Ginger, indeed! The Divine services were more breath-taking than I can describe in words, as was the Cathedral where we held them. I was able to witness the ordinations of Reader Zachariah (Doug Trent) to the Sub-Deaconate, and of Sub-Deacon Philip (Vern Lashbrook) to the Deaconate. I had a great time, and above all, was reminded once again about what a Godly Bishop I have, and was blessed to hear other stories of love about this unassuming man, who is celebrating three different anniversaries (10, 20, and 30 year milestones as Diocesan Bishop, Ordination to the Episcopacy, and Ordination to the priesthood, respectively) and shared his joy and thanksgiving with us all. Thanks be to God for Bp. Job, and may God grant him many years! EIS POLLA ETI, DHESPOTA!

7 September 2003

New Hampshire Redemption

Well, it’s been a week since I’ve posted, but for good reason. I returned on Fri. from a trip to New Hampshire to see J. graduate from His Mansion Ministries, after a year long stay there. The whole trip was beautiful and so full of light and grace. I’m having a hard time finding words that will do the whole trip justice, but I’ll try. God is truly amazing and so full of love for His creation. First of all, as a report, J. is doing great. He has a peace about him that I haven’t seen for many years, and his willingness to accept his own mistakes and limitations is astounding and also a blessing. I was honored to be there for his graduation, and amazed at the love bestowed on me and J’s folks by the staff there at His Mansion. I commented to Janna after I returned, that one can always tell when you are in the presence of true believers. Jesus said that “the world will know (them) by (their) love.” This is precisely what I experience that truly reaches into that inner place in my heart and burns with love returned. I can’t imagine anything more pleasing to God that when His servants love one another. Whether we are Protestant, Roman Catholic, or Orthodox, the love of God is the thing we need to show to each other and the world. It was this love and acceptance that above all things made me feel welcome and also seemed to transcend the veil that the world casts on life, and for a brief shining instance you see REAL life; more alive and vibrant than you ever dreamed possible.

The rest of the the trip can be summed up by one experience…summiting Mt. Washington. Mt. Washington is 6, 300 ft. tall, and is the highest point in the Northeast. We left His Mansion in the fog and rain, and it was a two hour drive to Mt. Washington. J. really wanted to go and stand there one last time before he left. He had hiked over it twice before during his Appalachian Trail days. I’m sure there is a special connection there for him. Anyway, we left and drove up there, already expecting the worst, as it was a crummy day. We arrived at the special access road to the top and the Ranger informed us that, not only was it very expensive to go up, but visibility at the top was only 50 feet. We all glanced up the mountain to see the top 1/3 covered in clouds. Well, here’s the kicker; I knew how much this trip meant to J., and I also really wanted to see off the top of the mountain, so I prayed for a good portion of the trip; giving thanks to God for everything, and also praying for friends and family, etc. One of the things I asked the Lord was that he let the sun shine for just one hour so that J. would have this one last gift before he left for Alaska. Well, God never disappoints. Lo and behold, we got 2/3 up the side of the mountain, and all of the clouds parted and the sun came out full force. The entire hour we spent hiking around the summit, the sun stayed out and the winds died down. As soon as we got in the car and began heading back down the mountain, the clouds and fog rolled in and the sun disappeared. One of the scientists that staff the weather stations on the mountain, commented to us about how rare the weather was. He said that they get about 3 really clear days a year there, and this was really odd. Alleluia! Thanks be to God for the gift of sunlight! Well, needless to say, I was amazed, and then I felt ashamed. I hadn’t really believed that God would do it. I felt like, “Why would he clear up the sky just for my stupid prayer?” Lord have mercy. Of course He did it. He did it because I asked. No pride, no hidden agendas, just a simple request. Why do I ever doubt that perfect love? Wow.

Well, needless to say, it was an amazing trip. There’s so much more I could say, but words would never do it justice. I can only describe the way the dew looked on that green grass, and the way the fog hung like a shroud on the mountainside there at the Mansion. However, this doesn’t equate to seeing it with your own eyes, and feeling it in your soul. God is indeed full of amazing grace, and the beauty of His Creation is more than I can bear sometimes. It breaks my heart with a longing for that new earth that will never pass away. I sincerely hope that C.S. Lewis is right in “The Last Battle” of the Chronicles of Narnia, when he descibes how the New Narnia (New Earth) “looked just like the old one, only more so.” Rich Mullins has a song lyric that goes, “No one ever tells you when you get born here, how much you’ll come to love it but how you’ll never belong here.” Yeah, that’s about it. Just as on the top of the mountain, looking out over all that beauty that God made, I’ll ever cry, EVEN SO LORD JESUS, COME QUICKLY!