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One Year Later

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Yesterday evening, I was able to drive to El Dorado, Kansas, to Sunset Lawns Cemetery, and Dad’s gravesite. I arrived just after sunset, as last light was fading in purple and indigo. Facing Dad’s headstone, I looked out to the west. To my left, the high-pitched hum of pipes and gauges and pumps of the refinery accompanied the rhythmic chirruping of crickets, underneath an undulating meson of a Kansas breeze.

It was important to me to be there on the anniversary of Dad’s passing. I wanted to mark the day praying the Trisagion at his gravesite. I wanted to share my heart, how much I missed him. To say again those words I said repeatedly a year ago as my family and I shared his final struggles: “I love you, Dad.” And, yes, to cry a little.

The grief is different a year later. A year ago, it was sharp and fresh and new, chaotic and disorienting. A year later it is still as painful, there are still as many tears which still come at the oddest moments. A year ago, the grief was ever-present, extended out over everything. A year later, it feels deeper, more settled. And a year later, in these recent days, it has been stirring deeper things.

A year ago, I was confronted with the previously unthinkable: the mortality of my father. I prayed desperate prayers for Dad’s healing, prayers that he would rise from his bed and remain a while longer with us. A year later, I am more deeply confronted with my own mortality.

What is this life that I am living? Certainly not the one I envisioned newly emerged from my college graduation. Goals and plans and dreams left undone, mouldering in the pile of the untried and undone. What legacy will be mine after my own departure? My daughters are barely on the way to their adult lives. What have I given them, what am I giving them, that can orient them and shape their hearts and minds such that they embrace beauty, goodness and truth? What have I left my fellow man in the way of love and service that will outlast and outlive me? Do I have anything to give? Even something as ephemeral as an essay, a book, a novel? What sort of son and brother am I? What mercies am I offering to family?

Though we now know Dad’s diagnosis was long in coming, the news for us was so sudden, and our final days with him so short. And yet, what grace we were given in that two and a half months. Maybe God can take such a life as mine, one so lately marked by constraints and struggle, and by that same grace turn it in to something.

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Thoughts On Years Old and New

It has officially been more than a year since I posted to my blog here. I suppose in the blogging world, that is pretty much a dead blog. But, zombie-like, here I am again one more time, thinking out loud on my keyboard.

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2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 34,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 8 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

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“I’m not dead yet.”

It’s been nearly five months since I last posted here. I am pretty sure that’s the longest hiatus I’ve taken. It was not an intentional one. Since my last post I’ve moved. Twice. I quit a job and got a job. It’s been a busy, busy time. But I’m getting settled in to the new digs. . . slowly but surely. And that is helping me establish and stick to a routine. So, no promises, but I should be writing again more regularly, and sharing some of my thoughts I’ve been storing up.

But, there’s a national election coming. Go vote. Pray. See you on the other side.

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Some Memories of Grandpa

Although I hope for news that Grandpa is getting better, I have been given to accept that he may be in his last days of this mortal life. My prayers go out for him to heal and to recover, that we may have more time with him. My fears and sorrows are that he may not be long with us.

Not surprisingly, then, memories of Grandpa have come rising to the surface in these last few days.

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2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 42,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 16 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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The Ninth Year

Today marks the ninth anniversary of my foray into the world of blogging. I was enticed into starting a blog by the likes of Tripp, Huw, Karl and James. When I began, I had no real idea what I was doing. But in short order my blog began to reflect my explorations in philosophy and theology, and, notably, my journey into Orthodoxy. It also happened that shortly after I began blogging, my first daughter was conceived. Thus, this blog has its origins in three fundamental and key aspects of my life: my academic endeavors, my conversion to Orthodoxy and my becoming a father.

In the first couple of years, the world of Orthodox bloggers (Russian, Greek, Antiochian, convert, cradle, and mostly laity) was pretty small. I could keep up with all of them. My how things have changed. Some, like Karl, no longer blog. But now there are so many more. I don’t even try. I keep up with a few, like James’ blog, but mostly now I’m more offline than on. In the “good ol’ days” Orthodox blogging was pretty much “how do we live this thing we call the Orthodox faith?” which meant a lot of stuff about work and family, but of course, being the geeks we were (are), there was plenty of theological discussion. Nowadays, I see a lot more polemics. I don’t have time for it. I don’t have the stomach for it. I guess it’s the age we live in.

For several years, this blog reflected the core aspects of my life: academia, becoming Orthodox, fatherhood. But in the last few years, I have begun to sense something of a lack of purpose for the blog. I no longer feel the need to search out the questions I once had regarding Orthodoxy, and feel even less need to pontificate on matters Orthodox and theological. Since my chrismation four and a half years ago, I have become aware of the need for reticence about one’s spiritual life. While questions of philosophy still animate me, I am no longer part of the academic community I once worked in, and am well satisfied simply reading and reflecting on such matters. And what can I say about fatherhood? The longer I am a father, the more I am aware of the need for urgent prayer and thoughtful action. It is a mystery, and a joy, and requires nothing less than constant dependence upon God’s gracious energies.

Further, in recent months my writing focus has changed. I have, in a sense, returned to my first love–the writing of fiction. I do not yet see how to fit together this blog and my present focus of writing. I’ve got no advice to offer. I’m no literary genius. If I ever were to publish anything, it certainly would not make it to the “classics” list.

So here sits this blog. Once again dormant. And here I sit once again on the brink of nuking it, and yet once again finding myself unable to push the delete button. It’s not as though this is some sort of existential struggle. It’s a blog. Keep it. Nuke it. Whatever. And yet . . . perhaps there’s a future for it. Perhaps a little more patience will bring a little more clarity.

But I can say this, I like my little corner of the blogosphere. It doesn’t get any traffic to speak of. It’s not as though any of my posts will ever travel much beyond the orbit of a few readers (like my west coast buddy, Tripp). But it’s my homely little creation. It’s been a good nine years. We’ll see how much more life this little thing has in it. And maybe by next year I’ll have finally figured out where it goes from here.

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