Tag Archives: Present Moment

a seaplane’s sanctification and turbulence

me and seaplane

I was asked, by a parishioner, if I would come and bless a seaplane that he uses to train pilots for water landings. He said that after the prayers he wanted to take me on a brief flight and that I should wear clothes that could get wet. I am always up for an adventure but, clothes that can get wet? I was at Falcon Field (a small plane airport in Mesa) at 7 in the morning. I did the prayers for the blessing of an airplane – really cool prayer service that I will include below. And yes, I know it is a little self-serving to bless the plane before takeoff.

After the plane blessing, Tom, my parishioner, gave me a safety briefing that could make a grown man cry. He first asked me if I could swim. I said, “yes” but was thinking, “should I call my wife and kids and tell them I love them, one last time? He said that if we crash on water we would both be injured and upside down. Sea planes flip over because the engine sits on top. Oh, and because of the water pressure the doors would not open until the cabin had completely filled with water and that I was to remain calm while it filled up. Right! And even though I would be wearing an inflatable life vest I was not to pull the cord while injured and upside down because it would inflate and trap me in the sinking plane. The good news was that there were bottles of “spare air.” I was to retrieve mine from behind his seat. However, the oxygen would not automatically flow and there was no valve. I was to remember to blow hard into the mouth piece in order to start the flow of oxygen…. all while injured and upside down and sinking in the cold, wet, dark, broken plane and not pulling the rip chord on my life vest….

my ride, complete with inflatable life vest

Did I mention that we had two beautiful water landings and take offs? Oh, did I also forget to mention that I threw up on the flight home? Tom is an ace but it was hot and there was turbulence. We were both apologetic but I am pretty sure throwing up was my fault and not his… I was very glad that he added that trash bag to our gear at last minute.

aerial view of saguaro lake


lake roosevelt bridge and dam

The prayer begins in the usual way with the Trisagion Prayers and then we read Psalm 139:

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. O LORD, thou hast searched me and known me! Thou knowest when I sit down and when I rise up; thou discernest my thoughts from afar. Thou searchest out my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether. Thou dost beset me behind and before, and layest thy hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it. Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend to heaven, thou art there! If I make my bed in hell, thou art there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there thy hand shall lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Let only darkness cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to thee, the night is bright as the day; for darkness is as light with thee. For thou didst form my inward parts, thou didst knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise thee, for thou art fearful and wonderful. Wonderful are thy works! Thou knowest me right well; my frame was not hidden from thee, when I was being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depths of the earth. Thy eyes beheld my unformed substance; in thy book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. How precious to me are thy thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. When I awake, I am still with thee. O that thou wouldst slay the wicked, O God, and that men of blood would depart from me, men who maliciously defy thee, who lift themselves up against thee for evil! Do I not hate them that hate thee, O LORD? And do I not loathe them that rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect hatred; I count them my enemies. Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! Psalm 139

And then this prayer:

O Lord God, Who is borne on the cherubim; Who took Elijah up to heaven in a fiery chariot; Who, by your angels, carried Habakkuk and Philip the Deacon through the air, and Who gathered the Apostles at the Dormition of Your Mother: As the same Lord, sanctify this boat of the air, and bless those traveling in it, preserving them from all evil. For You alone are all-powerful, and to You we ascribe glory; to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.

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Filed under A Good Life, Beaches, Canyons, Deserts, Mountains and Monasteries

Some Innocence Lost

And calling to Him a child, He put him in the midst of them, and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:2-3

Second Grade Sam

Efficient Christmas Present Wrapping 1, Childhood Innocence 0

It seemed like a good idea at the time. But it was not a good idea. See if you get this. It was last Sunday afternoon. I was the last to leave church after the prayers of preparation, Morning Prayer, Divine Liturgy, coffee hour, Nativity play rehearsals and then our teen meeting. I then drove out (way out) to Goodyear, AZ to pray for a parishioner preparing for heart by-pass surgery. I made it home by 3 for a power bar and oatmeal lunch before helping my sister-in-law get her Christmas tree. I got home much later than I ever do. (Not to worry, the Cowboy game wasn’t televised.)  My wife and daughter depart in peace for the grocery store and my oldest son was making skate history at the skatepark with his friend. So, Second-Grade-Sam and I are home alone. “Sam, want to wrap some Christmas presents?” “Woo hoo!” We wrap a couple of presents. That’s when I accidently took a little of my son’s innocence. I pulled out the espresso maker my mother-in-law bought for me so we could wrap it. Sam asks me, “Who is the coffee machine for?” “That’s for me.” I might as well have been speaking Finnish. His quick mind went to work trying to figure out what kind of world this is where a man is fully aware of the present he is receiving and is even wrapping it to put under the dead pine tree that is in the living room.

There was no explaining to Sam that the present party is pretty much done for the Over 40 crowd. I sheepishly said something about how at my age I was likely to forget what I had wrapped.

If you are 7 years old presents are surprises. Period. But the world looks different through my eyes. And, now sadly, it looks a little different through his, too. I do not think Jesus, in the verse above from Matthew, is promoting naiveté. But rather that we are to be humble, simple and without guile. Thanks be to God that Sam is still mostly all those things.

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Filed under A Good Life

Scholé is Out For Summer

I set out a year ago to write about the proper use of time. This blog was born out of a solo camping trip to the Grand Canyon. A couple of weeks ago I went and hiked it again. It was so nice! I long for more distraction-free time for reflection, creative investigation, prayer and meditation. Funny thing, this blog about the proper use of time has not always been a proper use of time. I can so easily find distractions. I have written about solitude instead of extending my time in solitude.
This blog’s blogger has decided to take a summer vacation from blogging about the proper use of time and try to have some. I will continue to respond to comments and requests. I do expect to begin again in August but one never knows.
Thank you for reading. May God grant you mercy, life, peace, health, salvation and visitation.

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Chronos, Kairos and Panicos

Divine Liturgy is like stepping outside of time as we know it. When we think of time we usually think of the kind that is measured by clocks and calendars. But that is not the way time moves in the Liturgy. We can move from Chronos (chronological) to Kairos (God’s time). Liturgy is like stepping through the wardrobe into Narnia. You enter into a whole new world/reality that runs on that different time.

We had our parish meeting yesterday following the Divine Liturgy. Most everyone stayed. Some, especially the diehard Dallas Cowboy fans who aren’t the pastor, left. Turns out the parish meeting was a much better use of time and not nearly the blood bath the game turned out to be. I got home just in time to watch my team pack up their bags and their season and head home.

The next thing I know I am making a list of all that needs attention in the next couple of weeks. Time screams to be filled up with nothing but duty, chores and work. The list got long enough to spill onto a second page and panic started to set in. I had just returned from the Divine Liturgy with it’s heavenly rhythm and it was already slipping away. I determined to let the Liturgy drift into the next few days. Exposure to kairos can redeem chronos. I have work to do (homeblessing season is like tax season) but not apart from the early morning time of prayer, Scripture, reading, writing and skating.

Time is so often treated like the enemy that we waste, manage, worry about and watch fly by. There are some who see time not as trying to enslave us but as God’s gift. I realize time as God’s gift in the Liturgy and I want to pull that Liturgical reality into the week.

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Filed under A Good Life, Orthodox Christianity

Clear a Highway Across the Desert for our God

Prepare a road for the Lord through the wilderness, clear a highway across the desert for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, every mountain and hill brought down; the rugged place shall be made smooth and mountain ranges become a plain. Isaiah 40:3-4

We have been in this time of expectation and of preparation for the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for the past month. The Church, in wanting to prepare the faithful for the great feast of the Incarnation, has determined that the two Sundays before Nativity would have a direct bearing on the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. This coming Sunday is called the “Sunday of the Forefathers” and next week is called, “The Genealogy of Christ.”

The central idea in Advent is that we are focusing on the coming of the Lord Jesus. One might perhaps feel that this term “coming” is purely symbolic, for in fact Christ comes to us at all times and in fact, abides in us. Nevertheless, this approach and this presence of Christ, both of which are eternal, take on a special character at Advent; they acquire intensity. A special grace of the ‘coming’ of the Lord is offered to us. The Lord Jesus is already present to us; but the grace of Advent allows us a more vivid, and quite new, awareness of his presence. Jesus is near us and in us. All the same He makes himself known to us, during this season in the Church, as “he who comes” that is to say he makes himself known as the One who wants to be with us, as the God who wants to be intimate with us.

Christian prayer during this time of Advent can be summed us in one word, ‘Come.’ It is the “Come Lord Jesus”, with which the Book of Revelation ends. If we utter this call for help with sincerity it becomes a true ascesis, and the hope and anticipation of the Lord, in fact, fills a place in our souls.

We need to prepare a way for the Lord and make his path straight so that there will not be any obstacles in His way.

Prepare the way for the Lord; clear a straight path for him. Isaiah 40: 1-11, Mark: 1:1-8

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Filed under Beaches, Canyons, Deserts, Mountains and Monasteries

Do Not Depend on the Hope of Results

Do not depend on the hope of results. You may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results, but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself. You gradually struggle less and less for an idea and more and more for specific people. In the end, it is the reality of personal relationship that saves everything. Thomas Merton

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Filed under Regarding the Present Moment

Big Damn Hurry

James Whitmore 1921-2009 as Brooks Hatlen

James Whitmore 1921-2009 as Brooks Hatlen

We have drifted far from a lifestyle and culture that helps us to foster and practice contemplation. For man today, and most especially Western man, contemplation is a muscle that has atrophied. What is of value today is measured on one scale only and that scale is achievement. The problem with this philosophy is that we take our sense of worth from what we do rather than from who we are. If something is good only if it works then we are only good if we work and only as good as the work we do. AND if we are only valuable if we are achieving, producing and contributing no wonder we put away our handicapped, aged and sick. No wonder the unemployed, the retired and stay at home parents feel unfulfilled and useless. (Inspired from “The Shattered Lantern” by Ronald Rolheiser)

Heck, let’s go ahead and say what needs saying. And I warn you that this is going to sting. The protestant mega-church model seems to have adopted achievement as a sign of God’s blessing. I see it in the eyes of my protestant pastor friends when I mention that I pastor a church of about 100 total people. It almost like they want to say, “Hey, that’s OK!” Some even look like they feel bad for me.

A journalist once asked Thomas Merton what he considered to be the leading spiritual disease of our time. His answer surprised his interviewer. Of all the things he might suggested (lack of prayer, lack of community, poor morals, lack of concern for justice and the poor) he answered instead with one word: efficiency. Why? Because, according to Merton, “from the monastery to the Pentagon the plant has to run…and there is little time or energy left over after that for anything else.”

Our problem may not be badness, it might be busyness. This is a problem that can be resolved but everything is working against us including the time we live in and the theology and philosophy that we are told to believe. When I think of busy as a vice I think of Brooks from Stephen King’s “Shawshank Redemption.” He writes his prison friends soon after being paroled.

Dear fellas, I can’t believe how fast things move on the outside. I saw an automobile once when I was a kid but now they’re everywhere. The world went and got itself in a big damn hurry.

Carl Jung was right when he said, “Hurry is not of the devil it is the devil.” Our souls need time for contemplation.

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Filed under Regarding the Present Moment