Friday, January 2, 2009

The Year(s) in Review (Part III)

This collection is a little long because I ran across parts of a few good posts I didn't want to toss, but really don't need to be taking up space as drafts on my "blogspot."

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10/3/08

Many of the people in our church know me as "Matushka." This title is meant to be an endearing term which the Russians and Slavs use to describe the priest's wife. The Greeks use the word, "Presvytera," the Arabs use the term, "Khouria," and the Serbians say "Popadia." I don't know what anyone else says, although I have heard people in the OCA use the word, "Mother" put in front of the name of the priest's wife, which amounts to the same thing.

After my husband was ordained in 2000, we had several people who, having known him as a layman, subdeacon and deacon, had a hard time using the prefix, "Father." Something he would tell them was that he term 'Father' isn't used to give him particular honor or seniority, or to say he knows more than anyone else. It's a term to help the people remember that he has been consecrated to serve--and it's for him too--to help him remember that he serves at the Altar of Christ.

Probably because it's easy to forget, I think, the title of
Matushka is given to help the wife remember she is a priest's wife and that she is his helpmeet.

It might also be to help everyone else remember that the title is more of what she does than of what she is: i.e. the one who cleans up messes, makes meals, organizes Church-life, etc. This is not a condemnation or a complaint, just a statement of fact.

But, I tell you what, the title sometimes makes for awkward moments for the one who holds it.

Mostly it's because we're in the South. I can't count the number of times I have introduced myself, or have been introduced as "Matushka" and the person hearing it assumes I don't speak English. This makes for awkward moments after the introduction when the wide-eyed, nodding, smiling introductee speaks slowly, loudly, or not at all. Often these people are polite, but not much conversation ensues. If it didn't make me feel awkward in front of the people I know speak perfect English, it would appeal to my shy nature and help me avoid conversation with strangers.

But often it is more awkward among friends. People I have known for years either don't know my Orthodox name or my secular name. I was once being introduced at a large party, and a sweet girl publicly introduced me as her "dear friend--uh--(she didn't know my name)--Well, we call her 'Matushka.'" It was kind of awkward for her dear friend.

It reminds me of the moment I realized my mother wasn't just called, "Mommy," but really had a name like everyone else.

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10/11/08

Today as I was driving to pick up Rose from a roofing job--yes my 90-pound daughter was helping to put a roof on the house of a needy person in Columbia--I listened to a podcast I located on Fr Joseph's site from a mother of four, and a regular on Ancient Faith Radio. I listened to her story which was painfully appropriate for the way I have been feeling recently--and unloaded in a recent post.

How embarrassing.

Anyway, a few days ago I began to wonder two things. First, why I don't write more about Orthodoxy on my blog than I do. And two, why I can't seem to achieve--even in my most zealous days--that something that many of my evangelical friends seem to have that resembles real Christian joy and peace--and even confidence.

This mother spoke so honestly about her own self-doubts and fears that I was on the brink of misty eyes. But, knowing I was within a couple miles of meeting up with Rose and some evangelicals, I had to make sure the eyes weren't pink and puffy.

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11/1/08

Yesterday afternoon Max took a a purple marker and made an angry pumpkin head. He cut it out and asked me for tape so he could put it on the front door. I gave him the tape but asked that he put it
next to the door since there is something about tape that pulls the paint off our door.

I still have a patch I am trying to cover up from a sign my sister put up announcing Margaret's birth seven years ago.

Hadley and Blakely were in town because of the Carolina game and went trick-or-treating with us. Hadley was Princess Amadala, and Blakely was a UPS man. I can't get over how perfect the costume was for him. It was so cute and perfect for his personality at the same time.

Jennifer made a box for him so that instead of a pumpkin to get the candy dropped into he had a brown box with a hole in it.

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10/1/08

I decided to start a Facebook page a few months ago when my husband informed me he was getting friend-requests from seductively-posed Brazilian females. Actually, only one--but that's all it takes for me. Call me a fastidious, hostile paranoid--or just call me a
good wife.

Since then, I have really enjoyed visiting with friends both far and near with this modern utility. Before I had more than one "friend" other than my husband, I received an email from a friend who had just moved to S. Korea asking if this person who had my name on Facebook (she didn't know me as anything other than "Matushka") was really me. Yes! And so began a reconnection I was afraid I had lost. Then came another friend out of the blue, who might as well be as far away as S. Korea--she's in Boston. Then over the ensuing weeks and months came people from everywhere: distant family; high school; college; down the road; over in the next neighborhood; Fr Mark's high school--everywhere. There's even a woman I have never met, but the wife of a friend who lives in Greece. I never thought I would feel as connected to faraway people as I do when I go to Facebook.

As for me, though, I feel like I've walked in on a party that has been going on for a long, long time. This might be why my friends have 450 friends and I have only 65. Sarah tells me that it's sometimes a game; and I've watched Rose play back and forth with other people saying "I have x-number of friends and you have x minus 1! So there!"

As for me I'm worried about adding people about whom I am not at least 85% confident they aren't going to jump in and start talking about something stupid I did in high school, college, or beyond before I get a chance to censor them.
But, as I have said before, it's my own fault for having such a shady past.

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This one was written in the midst of the 2008 campaign. Forgive my zeal.

9/5/08

There is nothing more apparent in the modern media today than the perverted joy exhibited in pronouncing a traditionally-minded Christian, a hypocrite. The media has no greater delight than watching the fall of a publicly acknowledged Christian into sin--something to which no real Christian admits immunity.

The recent news about Sarah Palin's daughter, Bristol, exposes a myth that has been perpetuated by the shrill and angry pro-choice crowd. This tale spins the notion that abortion is an act of courage and strength for a woman. That the act of abortion is intimately tied to the the advancement of women and their empowerment in modern society.

Although a woman might embrace this grandiosity walking into an abortion clinic, there is often a a sad, stark, emptiness greeting her when she walks out.

This past week we have seen what the pro-choice faction has historically characterized as heroic, pale dramatically in comparison to the courage and strength and faith exemplified by not only Sarah Palin, but also her teen daughter, Bristol, in carrying a child conceived outside marriage.

While there is a part of me which aches to speak to those women who regret and repent having had an abortion, to tell them there is forgiveness and rebirth in Christ. There is also a part of me which wants to stand up and cheer for Sarah and Bristol Palin. It is the same joy I have felt at hearing the story of a brave unknown persons from Flight 93. Facing the fear, uncertainty, and probable doom, they still choose to move forward into battle, regardless of the outcome.

Her mother had to put out a press release acknowledging her daughter's moral failure. This is something that could have been made a quiet personal "choice" that didn't have to inconvenience anyone. But this mistake was brought into the limelight and made
(yes) to shame not only the girl but her mother.

And in the case of Bristol, she has made the choice to carry her baby in spite of international ridicule and derision.

What a mother she will make!

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7/11/08

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of last week I spent about 25 hours leveling, digging, digging, leveling, re-digging, re-leveling, re-digging and constructing an above ground pool for the children. The days I worked would have been beautiful days to swim: not a cloud in the sky, no wind, and 100 degree days from 8 AM to 3 PM. Wednesday the wind decided to blow around noon. To an asthmatic, sweaty, sandy mom it came as an angel of mercy...inspiring me to work three more hours.

The children pranced and danced around my work area, occasionally adding entertainment to the grueling work, but most often causing confusion and messing up my stakes, strings and line-level. I exhorted myself to be patient and to use these times as "learning moments." It wasn't meant to be. Almost every time I would begin to discuss the way X, Y, and Z are supposed to work (and why they weren't exactly working right now), I would look up to find the child walking toward, smiling or waving at me from the air-conditioned house.

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I might have one more part to this "Year(s) in Review." I didn't realize I had so many drafts.
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