A Troubled World and the Fear of Abandonment

In the gospel reading this past Sunday, we heard some of Christ’s final words to His disciples before he would depart from them. In the midst of the meaning and power of His words was a father’s love for His children. He knew that when He left, they would be subject to tumultuous forces. In Christ’s words were affirmations that He did everything He could for the disciples in preserving them and keeping them safe. For many parents, our minds and hearts will inevitably drift to similar thoughts and affirmations when our time comes to depart this world. Whether or not we were a good parent becomes of the utmost importance. Regrets can also come to the surface at this…

The Uvalde Tragedy: Learning to Grieve while Avoiding our own Traumatization

No doubt most of us are well aware of the recent tragedies that have occurred over the past several weeks. Only days ago, those of us who peeked at the news had to come to grips with the tragedy that unfolded at an elementary school in Texas.  The idea that such young innocents could suffer such a fate seems unfathomable. Furthermore, the idea that another human being could inflict such pain on young innocents is incomprehensible.  There are few places more pure and innocent than an elementary school. Many of us, when becoming aware of such painful events, may ask how far we should go in processing them. As the days have passed, more and more details emerge that make…

When all is Finished: Remembering the Eighth Day

It is interesting to observe how over time, we can forget realities that were once at the forefront of the minds and hearts of many. This world can have that effect on us. We are all so busy. As a result, that which we can readily see, rather than the unseen, tends to take over in our lives. As our lives become more intense and more pressure filled, our hope in the unseen can begin to fade. As St. Paul said in his letter to the Corinthians, “We do not look at the things which are seen. For the things that are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”  This world rubs off on us…

Giving Humanity a Second Chance

  When seeking resolution to painful experiences in our lives, we may eventually learn that sometimes insight and self-discovery are not enough. We may have done all the cognitive work we can, grieved fully, and even journaled extensively, yet still find ourselves struggling. We are learning more about how painful or traumatic experiences affect the brain. Knowing how the brain is affected, helps us discover the activities we need to truly heal. To heal means to gain closure, peace, a profound sense of the past being in the past, and forgiveness. We  know now that the entire limbic system of the brain is affected by painful experiences. To heal all those parts of the brain that were affected by the…

A Nativity Musing: The Inescapability of our Need for Love

If there is one resilient and God given aspect of us that has remained intact throughout history and time, it is our innate desire to love and be loved. At our core we want to belong. We want to be loved and needed. Safety has also always been important for us. We like to feel safe. No matter how ugly or disturbing the world becomes, no matter who we are, this innate yearning for love and safety holds true. Perhaps the real tragedy is when this innate urge and desire becomes buried under layers of hurt, alienation, anger, and fear. When this occurs, the one who just wanted to be loved like everyone else, can become the stereotypical difficult person.…

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…