A Heroic Transfiguration: Becoming Vessels of Healing

Each of us takes a different approach to resolving the unresolved. There is such a wide spectrum of responses to the experiences in our lives that have left a painful mark on us. The following is by no means a criticism of any of the approaches that each one of us takes. Each of us decides on our own what is best for us. If we were to explore the many responses people have to their experiences, we might approach them by placing them on a spectrum.  On one end of the spectrum, we would see examples of lives where there is no awareness of how events affected them, however the effects of those events are everywhere in their lives,…

The Forward Leaning Life: Sails Up in the Pursuit of Peace

It is good to pause and reflect on what spirit or disposition we engage our daily life. Have we been living reactively or proactively? Each one has profound ramifications for our emotional, spiritual, and physical health. When we are living life reactively, it means that our default daily functioning tends to be living life proverbially on our heels. We never feel that we have a firm footing in our lives. We seem always be in the process of responding to something unexpected or not planned. We feel at the mercy of the powers of this worldly life and at the beck and call of others.  It can even reach a point where we feel that everything that we do, we…

Putting our Finger to the Wind: Mastering Pandemic Fear

Many of us might remember that expression, “a finger to the wind”.  It is something someone would do to get a sense of which direction the wind was blowing. It would help the individual be informed so they could make the best decisions moving forward. It is not an act to be taken lightly and it has great meaning. It is a sign of being deliberate and prepared.  Clearly, there is much more meaning figuratively to that expression. All of us, hopefully, have attempted to gain a sense of which way something is going before making a decision. The alternative is to disregard the direction of the wind and allow ourselves to be swept up by the wind and carried…

Finding Balance in the Post-Pandemic World

In this world there seems to be so many forces at work. These forces seem to push and pull at us. It can be difficult to find our footing so to speak. We all lose our balance sometimes, but hopefully we gain our composure and rebalance ourselves in a short time. Finding balance in this world can be elusive. Yet balance is critical for the Orthodox spiritual life. The Orthodox phronema or mindset is steeped in balance. Even now as we navigate ourselves out of the pandemic, one can sense subtle currents acting on us, perhaps nudging us in certain directions. To some the pandemic is over and to others it is very much alive due to variants and potential…

Exiting the Pandemic: Why don’t I recognize this life?

What a fascinating time we find ourselves in presently. It seems the pandemic is rapidly drawing to a close, as states lift restrictions and even the mask mandates. For the first time, many of us are feeling and seeing the first signs of “normal” re-emerging into our lives. Perhaps it was the feeling of air hitting our faces as we walked into a store for the first time without a mask, the first indoor school event in over a year, the first coffee hour at church, or even the resumption of hugs and handshakes.  In the past week, my family and I attended an event at the local high school. After the event, parents gathered on the athletic field to…

How We Relate with Ourselves: An Often Overlooked Area of Our Spiritual Life

We are often encouraged to reflect on and be mindful of how we relate to and treat others. We also, quite naturally, are very mindful of how others treat us. However, we very often pay little attention to how we relate with ourselves or how we treat ourselves.  This aspect of our spiritual lives is almost entirely overlooked. Some of us might have an aversion to being mindful of how we relate with ourselves. Perhaps it conjures up fears of being ego-centric or self-focused. However, as we shall see, making sure we are relating with ourselves as Christ would want us to, has huge ramifications for all areas of our spiritual life. First, let us start with the question, “what…

When Our Children Need Help: Giving the Generational Gift

Parenting is never perfect. Most of us yearn and deeply desire to meet all the needs of our children. This weighs on every well-intentioned parent. We often feel enormous pressure to be able to meet their needs physically and spiritually. We would also say emotionally, however so long as we imitate Christ in our parenting, all of our children’s emotional needs will be met. As we watch our children grow, it stirs up so much in us. We see ourselves in them, we have constant reminders of our own childhoods, and we often reflect on what aspects of our upbringing we want them to experience and which aspects we do not want them to experience. We keep an ever-watchful eye…

Anxiety: Our Ally in the Pursuit of Insight and Self-Awareness

Anxiety can be a frightening feeling, but it is also the feeling of fear itself. Those two truths are at the core of what can make our anxiety much worse by snowballing into something that gets bigger to the point of it causing impairment in our lives.  In reality, everyone has anxiety. In fact, we could not live without it. The goal is not to have zero anxiety; for if we did, we would not function. We would have no motivation to get anything done.   We also do not want to have our anxiety to be (say from a 0-10) at a 7 or an 8 all of the time. The truth is, we want it to be between 1…

Grieving the Pandemic: How to Navigate the Anniversary

  The anniversary of an event can be a funny thing. Depending upon the event associated with the anniversary, it can be either celebrated or grieved. They can be anticipated with excitement or they might be dreaded.  When we have a grief response to an anniversary it is called an Anniversary Reaction. This powerful reaction can occur upon the anniversary of any painful event, especially ones where there was significant grief and loss. Not everyone experiences anniversary reactions. Some of us are more sensitive to them than others. Some of us may have minds that pay little attention to time, dates, and the time of year. Yet, for some of us, our minds are ever mindful of the onset or…

Learning to Embrace our Battle Honors

  Many of us struggle with how to perceive the painful experiences in our lives. We may try for a lifetime to forget them. We may view them with a sense of shame. Perhaps even we are embarrassed by them and try to conceal them from others. We can spend many years or even decades trying to get a perspective on the trials and tribulations we have experienced. We often view them as weakness, as a handicap, or as a punishment. They become silent, inner scars that we try to hide. I would consider myself a history buff and have a fondness for military history. It is not rooted in the glorification of war; war is tragic and is best…