A blessed Advent! From my perfectionism to yours…

The Advent and Christmas seasons are a perfectionist’s nightmare. At no time of year do the “shoulds,” “oughts,” and “pinterests” blare more loudly in our minds than December.  As soon as you get the old holiday ornaments out of storage, the shiny new ones gleam and scream from the store shelves: Buy me! You need me to have…

The Hollowness: Grief and Emptiness in Advent

What?! The Great Feast of the Nativity of our Savior is less than a week away? As is usual for me this time of year, I can’t seem to shake the feeling that I’m failing at Christmas. As is also usual for me this time of year, I’ve come to a belated and idealistic conclusion: less perfectionizing, more…

Christmas Cookies for a Jehovah’s Witness

  Addie (not her real name) is my neighbor. She lives down the hall of our apartment building. Our first real conversation happened last year. As I recall, it was Boxing Day (Dec 26). Between church and family gatherings, my husband and I had amassed more yuletide sweets than we could eat in a lifetime. I thought of…

What if Christmas came from a Pagan Festival?

While traveling on the subway the other day, I overheard an interesting conversation between two strangers.   “Actually,” one person began grumbling, “They don’t know when he was born. I mean, if Christ was so important, you’d think we’d at least know his birthday!” A second person responded with similar cynicism: “And plus, Christmas came from a pagan…

On the Feast of the Presentation: Being a Modern Woman in an Ancient Calendar

Several events coincided this morning: 1.) I woke up, for the first time this year, to snow on the ground (cue the coziness). 2.) I also woke up to find that a Time Eternal podcast episode I produced in tandem with my friend, Angela Doll Carlson, had been posted. It’s entitled “Being a Modern Woman in an Ancient Calendar.”…

Praying When the Times Hurt

*** (Caveat: In this post, I make reference to political events/ figures, but my purpose in doing so is not to speak to issues of politics but to give voice to a spiritual struggle that is common to us all, regardless of what side of the partisan lines we are on. It’s been a difficult election for all.…

Forefeasts and Afterfeasts: Becoming Present in the Periphery

I don’t know about you, but these autumnal days have been busy and bleary. I always want autumn to tarry, to pass me slowly and contemplatively by. It never seems to obey, though–falls are always busy, the leaves bid farewell too quickly, and the rough winds fly like they are in a hurry. When I am busy like this, I…

Cycles of the Orthodox calendar (and why they matter)

The end of September marks the start of a somewhat quieter time, liturgically speaking. The next of the major feast days isn’t until 21 November (Presentation of the Theotokos) and there are no major fast periods until that of Nativity,  starting on 15 November. Don’t get me wrong, there’s lots of good stuff happening in the Church between…