Dear Diary,

This morning I woke up in my little log cabin in Maine in plenty of time for the quick flight home. The place was clean and tidy, all ready to receive us on our return in a few weeks. I had gone to bed hoping to wake up early enough for my traditional hike and prayer time, but this morning the lake called me first. The one thing I still needed to do was to bring my rowboat out of the water and place it face down on the dock so it would not fill with rain and falling leaves while I was gone. Standing on the dock I looked around and was immediately struck by the beauty of my surroundings and I wanted to stay there. It was so early that a foggy mist hovered over the entire lake which was particularly still and glassy. This morning the lake reflected the soft grayish white sky.

I rushed back into the cabin to grab my oars, my Bible, eyeglasses, and a towel to sit on. When I retuned to the dock I knew that I had to seize the moment because lake conditions change fast. Instead of sitting on the dock and reading first, I descended into the rowboat and hooked up the oars to set out to sea. Me and my boat were the only ones on the lake that early, unless you want me to count the loon or two that surfaced a little later.

I rowed out and stopped to enjoy the view of the hemlock trees and mountains surrounding us. On my lake there are no houses in sight from the center, only trees and mountains. The view was peaceful and beautiful, perfect for praying. I soon thought instead of facing west I should face east to where God and the sun come from lest I have my back to Them. On this morning unless I already knew where east was, it would have been hard to tell as the sky was so thick with clouds. Staring, I finally saw a slightly brighter area in the sky that revealed the rising sun, so even though the view in that direction, closer to shore and without mountains was less beautiful, it was in that direction I said my prayers.

First phase, glorify God, then thank Him.

As I recited my prayers my mind wandered to what I was doing. I was speaking to an invisible God. I was telling Him how much I love Him and thanking Him for all of the gifts I could called to my mind at that moment. In the undercurrent of my prayer I thought about how strange it seemed that I was talking to the air. I couldn't see Him.

Since my trip to the Holy Land several months ago, and especially after having just finished James Martin, SJ's book, Jesus, A Pilgrimage, about his trip Holy Land which evoked so many shared memories, I have become aware of the humanity of Jesus more than ever before in my Christian life. I was so used to worshipping an invisible, divine Jesus, that confronting the reality of His humanity seemed at first foreign and inappropriate until I adjusted my perception of the dual nature of God as never before.

But, here I was shifting back again to worshipping a purely invisible divine God and now that seemed strange out there in the middle of my lake all alone on a foggy still morning.

'But He is not altogether invisible,' I argued with myself. I see Him with my heart in the effects of His magnificent being. Hearing myself list all that I was grateful for, most especially as I sat in the boat where two weeks to the day earlier I rescued my young grandchildren from their capsized canoe, I was particularly grateful for all that God did to prevent what easily could have been a traumatic disaster. Thank God that my lake did not swallow the young lives of my beloved babies.

It is not often possible to sense the presence of an invisible living God. So, I need to set aside my senses and look at the obvious effects of His Being. Then, I know for certain, that Someone is there listening to my prayers, and wishing I would stop allowing my mind to wander.

Of course this is not new. In fact it is very very old, but today for me it was expressed in what felt like a two way conversation between the invisible God and me. 'I can't see You, but I know you are there.'

With love,

Saint Want



There was a time when a great Want filled my aching soul. There were bills to pay like demons threatening to take the breath from my lungs. I begged for rest and found none, only brief naps abruptly disturbed by a long hard stick pushing me to move on. When ten times a landlord banished us in winter I cried rather than in peace become like Jesus who said, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.

Tears drenched my pillow, but Want took my hand and lead me to the Lord. We went through the Red Sea and across the wilderness. Want and I visited David when He was anointed by Samuel to be king many years before he was appointed by the people. David gave me hope and promise. As did the Shunemite woman to whom the Lord granted a son, who died, and whose life was restored even as Jesus restored the life of the widow’s only son.

Saint Want was a cruel soul mate who caused pain and suffering that could only be soothed by hope. Yet Saint Want showed me that God was alive and near. Chrysostom wrote that in the deepest darkness the light of God shines brightest. God always stood by me in times of disappointment and sorrow, not to relieve me, just to be with me so that in suffering I never despaired.

After a nine month battle with demons we landed on a place I named God’s Green Acre, a big place of rolling fields and streams. I rejoiced in the Lord’s ability to guide me through the valley of the shadow of death. I pitched an orange tent of prayer there in which I held long meetings with my Lord and King. There was much work to do to tend the garden of the Lord. Mowing and weeding, bushhogging too. The harder the work, the dirtier and sweatier I became, the happier I was to be creating a place where God’s children (and mine) could come to enter tent-like cells in which they could commune with the One who lead Israel through the wilderness.

In the summer my naked toddlers splashed in pools of clear water and we laughed and sang out loud. On a day that I crossed the larger stream to the wildest part of this property I looked up to see a tree filled with grapes. How could this be I thought; grapes don’t grow on trees! But they did on God’s Green Acre because an old thick grape vine had climbed a scruffy birch tree and produced a thousand grapes.  I was humbled to think how human beings resemble the grape with its myriad of destinies, that may become even as lofty as the Blood of Christ. I planned someday to build a Chapel of the Transfiguration beside the grape tree.

Soon after an officer of the law arrived with a long hard stick to force us off God’s Green Acre. Being early with child I was too ill to fight even though every ounce of my being screamed in anguish.

Oh King David how keenly I feel the pain of your exile in Ziglag! In the years that followed our departure  I returned to God’s Green Acre often to cry and pray and to remember the days of blissful toil.

Echoes of Hebrews ran through my mind, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” 

And …

 “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own.  If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.”  

For the first ten or so years I refused to believe that I would not return someday to fulfill the plan of creating a place of refuge and communion with God.

Now twenty-five years have passed since my exile from God’s Green Acre. Last week I found myself driving by, so I stopped. I couldn’t remember when I had last visited the place; maybe it has been six months or more.  I found there a most desolate place.  The rickety barn where I once stored toys and tools had finally collapsed and lay in a pile. The trees were wild and with fallen limbs strewn about. Even the old apple tree that fed my family so well with its abundance of fruit had disappeared.

Two ‘For Sale’ signs from two different companies were planted at the entrance. Even though, by God’s grace I may now have the means to purchase God's Green Acre there is no room in my full life to make real that old vision.

The sight of desolation causes me to stop to think of the many ways my faith has been rewarded, of how it shouldn’t matter how I serve God, but only that I do in any way I can. I am grateful to Saint Want for the journey and the lesson. I hope someone will buy that land and make it their home to love it again. I hope those people will worship Christ there. On the day that the land is sold and the home is built and filled with laughing singing children again, I think I shall pay one last visit, and bring that young family a basket of fruit and tell them that they purchased holy ground.

Crazy Busy

Dear Journal,

I have to be honest, this past week I had to concentrate harder than ever to keep all my balls twirling in the air, and I dropped you. The hours usually spent every day writing to you, were given over to mercantilism instead because the job demanded them. Will you forgive me?

Sparks of light drifted by during the week and I tried to catch them to share with you. For example, on Wednesday I heard that Lily was finally born and that Anthony and Andy died after years of suffering. What a thing to hear of so much vertical traffic in one day. I could almost see with my heart’s eye people coming and going and how spectacular it is. But I didn’t have time to develop the vision.

I am very happy that Lily is here to see and to hug. I know her mom and dad are even happier. Birth day joy is truly a highlight of life on this old earth. Nothing can compare to the exhilaration that a baby brings, a new person with so much potential illuminates the world around her. May Lily be blessed with a good long wholesome and holy life, and may she bless her parents too. My great aunt, Anastasia, used to say that each child brings to the family a special fortune. I sense that Lily has great gifts in store for her family.

With more time I might have delved into a story about Anthony who was a brilliant boy and man who brought his family tremendous joy and pride. He was an athlete and an engineer, a son and a husband and a brother until multiple sclerosis rendered him catatonic. For many years his family had to see nothing but his shell and they couldn’t understand how and why he had to linger so. Anthony was on my prayer list and now he is invisible but happy I am sure. His family is experiencing the holy emotional brew of joy and grief, mixed with peace.  Anthony reminded me of how mysterious God can be, and I am humbled by his story.

My best friend went to Africa this week too. Like Anthony and Andy, he became invisible to me, but email assured me that he would eventually reappear.   We usually share everything together, my best friend and me, but this time he knows exactly what I am doing and I only have a vague notion of his surroundings. He is on a military base and his room is called a container. Sounds like an adventure and I can’t wait to hear the details when he returns.

Hopefully next week my message will sing to you, a beautiful and inspiring song.



Good and Evil

Dear Diary,

This has been a terrible week. It started with a call from someone telling me that I was being stabbed in the back. When I tried to turn around to see who was doing that I was slapped and told to face forward or else the ranks of my assailants would grow and I would surely die. What a dilemma. I didn’t want to die and I didn’t know if God wanted me to turn around and fight or just stand still and trust Him. After all, He said that if someone steals your coat give him your cloak too, and if someone slaps you on the cheek, turn and let Him slap the other. So I wondered if that also meant that if someone stabs you in the back you should let Him. Now that would be fine with me because I am sure that God would heal the wounds, or if need-be resurrect me, but for two things. I wonder if I deserve to be stabbed, well I don’t mean murdered exactly but if the stabbing is the result of something I did to open that hole for the Enemy to destroy me. If that is the case, I have work to do to close that hole. Secondly, I wonder if I should develop fight-skills. St George, Archangel Michael, King David, Joan of Arc, did not turn the other cheek and God was with them.

I read a book once that described what happens after the body dies and it said that as the soul is ascending it passes through a place of cross examination, where demons accuse the person of wrongs trying to pull him or her down with them. The person’s soul must defend itself, with the help of angels, saints and his or her own good deeds. Ultimately, the soul is either brought down by the demons or is allowed to pass through to heaven. [The Future Life According to Orthodox Teaching by Constantine Cavarnos] I think about that from time to time and figure I should practice defending myself so I can pass and ascend. Resisting demons by self defense is a fight skill.

Besides the attempted murder, I realized this week that in times of trouble or need I could not count on help from a particular friend. That was another blow that I did not expect, but hopefully I will always be more reliant on God than on any man. It was just a disappointment.

To add to the terrible week, another friend and fellow aspiring immortal went to the hospital and was suffering greatly. This shook me up quite a bit because we aspiring immortals are like one big body of a person and what afflicts one cell of us afflicts the closest cells too. So part of me was on morphine and other terrible drugs to stay alive.

The work week ended with the news that a team member’s son took his own life. Just the thought of such horror, even miles away, like an explosion of an atom bomb in a neighboring town, was nearly unbearable. I wrote these parents-in-anguish a letter in which I pulled out every salve I could muster-up to help heal them (and me too) from this tragic news.

The previous week it had occurred to me how protected my life is from so many evils, and I am grateful. Some lives are so beset with troubles, as mine was in the past, those days that steered me to the path of aspiring immortals. This week I practiced my old regimen of running to the Lord, to the Bible for answers and guidance. I remembered the days when I was taught to see with my heart and not my eyes, to turn from evil with a spiritual jump from its frightening precipice knowing that I would be caught by my Savior.

I suppose that if I turn the other cheek to my back stabbers, even if I am wrong to do so, God will know that I did the wrong thing for the right reasons. And if I deserve the loss of protection, hopefully He will tell me what I need to do to close the breach that let such evil in. Hopefully too; next week will be another joyous peaceful one. That’s one good reason why time is so valuable on this old earth; evil passes away with time and that is good. It is also good when God’s spirit-army does the fighting for us.