Today is the second Sunday after Pascha, and therefore the Sunday of the Myrrhbearing Women: Mary Magdalene, the Theotokos, Joanna, Salome, Mary the wife of Cleopas, Susanna, and Mary and Martha of Bethany (Lazarus’s sisters). They are the women who went to the tomb where Christ was buried to anoint him with spices as was the tradition for burial.

The Church teaches us all to honor and emulate these saints, but in the last few years I’ve felt especially drawn to them as models of Orthodox women. At this point, the male disciples were in hiding, afraid of being captured by the authorities. The women disciples acted with courage and determination to do what was right, acted out of love and despite their uncertainties.

Obviously, there are many ways to be a Christian woman (Sts. Mariamne, Theodosia, Nino, Olga, Hilda, Xenia, and many others tell us that). And equally obviously, the story of the Myrrhbearers has meaning for all of us.

And yet, there is something that remains so beautiful and so powerful about the way in which we see these women still wanting to serve their Lord, the one they had followed even to the Cross. There’s something about that moment, deep in the heart of the night, when all seemed lost, when they stepped out in faith and good courage and were the first to hear the glad tidings of the Resurrection. It’s very clear and important that these were the women who loved the Lord so much that they defied the authorities, the example of the male disciples, and their own fears and went to tend to him.

As a model for how to be a Christian and a woman, the Myrrhbearers are–for me–both inspiring and challenging.

Advertisements

A candle burns

I’ve been thinking about light recently. It’s the season for it, as we draw near to the Solstice, and to the mystery of the Incarnation. It’s the season for light coming to dwell in darkness and chase it away. When I was little, we used to have an Advent wreath every year and sing a song as we lit the candles, one after the other:

“Advent, Advent, a candle burns,
Advent, Advent, a candle burns.
First one, then two, then three, then four.
Then stands the Christ-child at the door.”

There’s something so powerful about this act of bringing light into being, this act of hope. E.E. Cummings says it in his poem “little tree”:

put up your little arms
and i’ll give them all to you to hold
every finger shall have its ring
and there won’t be a single place dark or unhappy
And that’s the heart of it; the promise at the heart of the Nativity: that some day there won’t be a single place dark or unhappy.
But I think too about how this is meant to be in our own lives. I think of my friends who are light-bringers; who strive to bring light into the darkness of this world.
And I wonder too how I can do this. It seems pretty daunting, to take myself–all my crotchety, selfish, angry, helpless self–and transform it into light. But that’s the promise at the heart of the Transfiguration too, isn’t it? So often I fall short of that; I coast through the day and if I bring anything into the world it’s carelessness, or thoughtless unkindness.
But the hope that’s at the heart of the Incarnation isn’t passive, or careless, or thoughtless. It’s an active hope, meant to call us to action. Meant to call us to bring light into the world in whatever shape that takes for us.
So as the new year comes, I’ll be thinking of this: what it means to light a candle; what it means to make light.

Gaps

“I mean to lead a simple life, to choose a simple shell I can carry easily… like a hermit crab. But I do not.” –Anne Morrow Lindbergh

I don’t intend to start all of my posts with a quote from AML, but I kept thinking about this one, the very first thing I ever read from her (on the sidebar of Elizabeth Wein’s Livejournal in case you’re curious). I keep thinking tonight about the gaps between my intention and my actions.

I mean to do well, I mean to follow my faith. Even more than these, I mean to make it the center of my life, the striving from which all else follows. But I do not.

I mean to talk about it more, to find words for what does, after all, underlie everything else. But I do not.

Tonight I am struggling with the hurt of friends from other faiths, and the wounds my own faith has all too often made them bear. Tonight I am struggling with anger against those who cultivate hate in their hearts, who think their moral superiority & enlightenment gives them the right to hurt others. (No, more than that, they don’t even see that it will have that effect.)

But mostly what I’m struggling with is that gap between who I want to be and who I am in practice. Orthodoxy means right belief, but it’s a belief that’s made real by being-done in a practical, real, and everyday sense. It’s a belief that means reaching out in love: to each other, to the saints, to Christ.

So. Enough of my own words. Time to listen & to do.

Introduction and intentions

About
“But I want first of all…to be at peace with myself. I want a singleness of eye, a purity of intention, a central core to my life that will enable me to carry out these obligations and activities as well as I can.” -Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift From the Sea

My name is Maureen and I’m a twenty-something Orthodox Christian living in Indiana. This is a record of thoughts and reflections on Orthodoxy. It is intended as a personal record; I won’t be delving into theology so much as trying to show as accurately as I can how my faith acts as that central core that AML talks about. Posting will likely be sporadic.

The details
In the divide of cradle vs. convert, I fall awkwardly somewhere in between. I was eight months old when my parents converted to Orthodoxy and have grown up in the Church. However, I am American and have no culturally Orthodox heritage.

I have attended parishes in several jurisdictions but currently attend a mission of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church here in Indianapolis. I have always attended Old Calendar parishes and that is my orientation; however, I don’t consider myself an Old Calendarist as such. (Nor do I intend to get into that debate here.)

Other places to find me
I blog about books here
Twitter