Archive for 2016

What is life? What is love?

October 23, 2016

Icon of Tenderness

Icon of Tenderness

One of the experiences that has changed my perspective on life has been my frequent visits to the nursing home where my mother has lived for the last 10 years. During these years, I have become friendly not only with the staff that cares for my mom, but have come to know many of the residents as well. I have seen and shared their better days as well as their weaker days. At this particular nursing home, there are residents who are younger with various disabilities as well as the elderly with innumerable cognitive and physical impairments. Since I see many of these residents at least once a week, I try to engage them in conversation.

One woman, who has been my mother’s roommate for a few years, is completely bedridden and has little control over many parts of her body, and yet has a brilliant mind and a well-developed sense of humor. I have enjoyed numerous lengthy conversations with her on a myriad of topics, including the two “forbidden” ones: politics and religion. Another resident wanders aimlessly through the hallways of the home, mumbling to herself and yet stops to give me a hug every time she sees me visiting with my mother. Another much younger resident is unable to move most of the muscles in her body, but revels in her ability to tell a joke and laugh out loudly. Read the rest of this entry »

Conclusions Without the Facts

May 25, 2016

Years ago, afteMother of Compassionr completing my PhD in history, I was asked by the jurisdiction to which I belonged, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, to write a detailed history of the Ukrainian Church in the USA. A significant number of Ukrainians began arriving in the United States and Canada before World War I, many seeking economic advancement and stability in a new world.  Several of these were temporary immigrants, fully intending to return to Ukraine to reunite with their families.  The First World War changed that narrative for many. Small communities were created in several areas: the mining towns of Pennsylvania, the big cities of New York and Chicago that offered factory employment, as well as the rich farming lands of the Midwest. Naturally many of the first community centers that Ukrainians created in the new world were churches, where they could gather for divine services offered in a language and setting that was familiar and welcoming to them. From these significant numbers a Ukrainian Orthodox diocese was created, with several parishes.[1] This is a fascinating history that demands a thorough and scholarly study. Read the rest of this entry »

The First Duty of Love is to Listen

April 3, 2016

In memory of Archimandrite Athanasy

Father AthanasyA very special priest died a few months ago. He was a priest who served as my spiritual father for many years. Archimandrite Athanasy, or simply Father “Ath” as many of his spiritual children called him, was a kind and gentle soul, who understood firsthand how difficult life can be, which made him a very compassionate person. Perhaps because he himself had a difficult life, full of illness and uncertainty, Father Athanasy understood the deep necessity for love, kindness, hope, joy and forgiveness in all people. He was a priest of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, and served in a few parishes in the US, Haiti as well as in the Russian convents in Jerusalem. He served in the most exalted of places, Jerusalem, and part of the forgotten world which is Haiti. Read the rest of this entry »

By a Handmaid of God

February 7, 2016

A20This week, I met with another local Orthodox priest.

My hope was to find a way to be a transgender family and still be Orthodox. After all, this priest has also known us for nearly 20 years, through our sister church.

Perhaps, I dreamed in the days leading up to our meeting, the parish council could meet, and they would allow us to come to church as ourselves. Perhaps, as a technicality, they would ask that my spouse limit the times she took Communion. Or perhaps, like the sick, the Eucharist would be brought to her once or twice a year at home, yet, as a family, we could still come to church regularly.

The meeting did not go as I had idealized. Read the rest of this entry »

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