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.

Driving Me Happy

I heard they are called watershed moments when something big happens that catapults us to a new plateau of life.  On the practical level it could be a new job or a wedding or childbirth, but those watershed moments can also happen with revelations. One evening when I was in college in Baltimore as I sat in my little nanny-apartment in the Fleisher house, such a moment happened that changed me forever after.

That was when I first met the many me’s. I don’t know if it was by the Holy Spirit or my guardian angel, but I suddenly realized, that I harbored my very own internal enemy. In those days and for years before, for one reason or another I was unhappy more often than I was happy. It suddenly occurred to me that the root cause was an internal enemy, so at that moment I vowed to recognize the enemy of me and pin it down, strangle it or do whatever I could to keep me from making me miserable. That was the day I won my first victory over my internal enemy. Identify, aim, fire. Splat.

After that, when I was very unhappy I would map myself out on a piece of paper, positioning points in quadrants surrounding the core of me all the positive and negative influences on the state of my soul. This visual map made it easier to site the internal enemy, and the external enemies. I could then determine what I could control and what I couldn’t control. Most of all, I was able to control my attitude. I made an effort to receive the peace that Christ always offers, by trusting God, the Father, as He did.

That’s how I learned to drive myself happy.

Being a disciple-in-training takes perspective. It takes the ability to master emotions, attitudes, and even diet. Fasting is an excellent exercise to build spiritual muscle mass. When we tell our body what it can eat, e.g. vegan-for-a day, then we are practicing sitting in the driver’s seat of self. God likes that and sometimes rewards us for such fasts, not to mention the tremendous privilege of receiving communion. Whether or not your church requires fasting before communion, try it and see how much more powerful the eucharistic experience can be!

Learn ways to place your mind and body in submission. This way you free-up your heart to be a true disciple (student) of Christ.

Peace, joy, love,


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.

Lilly's Earth Day Birth Day

Dear God,

Thank you for the surprises, and the miracle, and for giving me a tiny glimpse of You, how you know what will happen before it does; that was fun. I suspect that these gifts were Your way of showing me that You and Your angels were there when Lilly Juliana was born last Thursday.

Her mommy was surprised that her birth was so different than her brother’s, so much faster did Lilly make her grand entrance into this world. She was surprised not to have the hours of waiting that she anticipated when she told her husband to take their little Cole to the baseball game. But thank You that Cole’s godfather, recently arrived from Colorado, was near the ballpark and for the way they managed to meet through the crowds to release the daddy to go to the hospital when called. Thank you for steering Lilly’s daddy through congested rush hour traffic to his baby girl’s birth moment. Thank You Lord for surprising Lilly’s parents; may they always have enough time to recover from the unexpected.

Especially thank You for the miracle that little Lilly was so big and healthy even though her pre-birth environment was not normal, new information that surprised the parents and the scientists. Her health is a gift I will cherish especially because to achieve it, You overcame nature. Were you answering prayer Lord, or did You do that to surprise her mamma again, or because You wanted Lilly’s earth day birthday to be touched by the unearthly, the Super Naturalness of You. 

Lord, thank You for casting me in a little part of that big, sunny, clear, spring day. How wonderful it was to be present during the last doctor’s visit and especially for the lunch we all shared with my father’s echo in the courtyard, and the few hours of walking and riding we spent together while Lilly’s mommy became increasingly aware that her birth day had finally come, five days late and right on time.

Thank You Lord for every perfect minute of her birth day, and now I have this request. Lord, please bless this little Lilly whom you brought from the darkness of the womb into the light of this world. Bless her with a vision of You. May she see You, the Creator of this glorious earth, walking beside her and within her. May she speak with you often and may she listen as You speak to her. With her flowery name and her earth day birthday grant Lilly a special love for this beautiful planet of ours, to care for it and protect it from its enemies, the wasteful, the polluters, and those who would curse it with vile words and deeds. May little Lilly Juliana live, under your watchful Father’s eye, in such a way that she can inherit the new earth as her everlasting home.

I suppose You knew I would dare to ask for even more.

Love always,


The Long Road Home

Once upon a time, long long ago there lived a young man and his bride in a lovely apartment on Q Street. But they had a roommate who banished them from their home because she wasn’t anyone’s bride and that seemed fair. To her.

So the lovers moved north to a small town where the Greek gave the young man work and a home of his own on Key Circle for the young man and his bride to reside. That is until the Greek’s horns hardened at which time he yanked the work away, and turned off the home’s heat which made the toilet ice-up.

So the lovers returned to the south where Gus, the kind criminal, gave the young man enough money for labor to rent a cottage on Singleton Rd. But when the bride was with child, the landlord refused to repair the cause of the stink that forced her to sit out in the cold all day to keep from vomiting.

So the lovers started to pray to God for a home of their own. And they read the Bible to learn about the God they were praying to Who could give them a home where they could live happily ever after. And they asked for help from a man too and he said “NO!”  

So the lovers escaped the stink when they arrived at a small mansion on Delaware St and first gave birth to a girl. One week later the sheriff knocked on their door to demand that they vacate that house for no reason. Secret was that the hateful owner fled her man and wanted the bride’s home for her own again.

So the lovers prayed more and went to Turner Lane where they begged God to let them stay. They believed He said YES, even when told they had to buy or go and richer buyers peered through their windows at their nakedness. So they tried harder to believe till the Judge gave them three days to flee.

After a few comforting miracles, the lovers arrived in haste at Falls Rd where the landlord guaranteed them three months. Two years later God promised a home of their own and showed them 3 acres with streams. Love birthed a boy but the poor divorced lord needed shelter for his 90yr old father and he.

So, the young man and his bride, his girl and his boy fled to the acres of Glen Mill with highest hopes in their hearts for a home of their own, not just the trailer on landlord’s land. Joyous family till the county demanded they go since the earth failed to perc, and God gave them the seed of a son instead.

Tearful lovers traded God’s green acres of sunshiny days for three years of concrete winter in a Misty Dale row house. The faithful bride and God communed often. So that on the day that she approached her small door to find posted orders to leave, for another landlord divorce, she almost laughed.

So the man and his bride and three children went to Derbyshire Road to continue the Christian race when the owner demanded the business be gone even though they could stay. Now with two rents to pay and three beaks to feed, the young man and his bride worked harder than ever to live.

Seventeen years since the wedding and still without a home of their own for the 10th time the notso young man and his notso young bride had nowhere to go when told to buy or leave. Mother and God came up with the money to make the landlady disappear and they stayed another five years.

When the lord of the office paid them a visit to say it was time to go God whispered that this was the last of those words and continued to hide relief. After a year of tears and searching, a brand new house and office of their own instantly appeared on MacArthur Blvd where they lived through new wars.

Does it help you to know that the man and his wife eventually became landlords to two? But most important of all, God gave them a home of their own far from MacArthur’s wars where there they stay by still waters of Keyes Pond, closing the circle of Key near where this story began.

And does it frighten you too that the name of their own home is Point of the Loon? So here they live happily ever after God’s kingdom within and sun o’rhead, awaiting the home of their own where demon death cannot banish the man nor his bride and Lord-willing their children three.

All the while of this sad epic, the bride asking God-Lord at least for a good story to tell, but here it appears that she only received a hardly believable bad poem with a moral that says to stay fix on the road to your home in the high matter what comes your way .

Be still and know that I am God.” 

The LaGuardia Lesson about the Inner Kingdom

There is one thing I want to know. Is it possible to go to the inner kingdom of God while sitting in an airport? I would so much rather be there than here. If I can go there at all, now would be a perfect time to figure out how. Maybe that is why I missed my flight and landed in LaGuardia for this wait. My Boss wanted me to see if I could go there when I hate where I am at the moment. Maybe I am usually too comfortable to go to the inner kingdom of God.

Usually I try to go to the inner kingdom of God in the middle of the night when I am in my comfy cozy bed and I can’t sleep. Since I have pretty much decided thanks to Mr. Freud that I can’t go there with my mind, I try to clear the room of my mind or I think about how wonderful God is, and pray hoping that I will somehow stumble upon the door and walk in. Unfortunately, I end up in a pool of random thoughts, or I fall asleep.

Now I am in a room filled with loud chatty people. On two sides glass walls separate us from a dense fog. It is so foggy that it looks like we are on an airplane travelling through clouds or waiting for the Judgment Seat. Here, I am not alone in my desire to be elsewhere. I am surrounded by hundreds of people who also want to go somewhere else, some want to go to Dayton, others to Syracuse. Wouldn’t it be fabulous if the lady announced that the next flight will take us to the inner kingdom of God! All aboard! I am jealous. At least these other people will end up where they want to be. Not me. Not by plane through the fog at least.

It looks like I am being shown all the ways how NOT to reach the inner kingdom of God. It’s apophatic! Apophatic reasoning is used to know God by what He is not because it is impossible to know God by what He is because He is so immense. God is not mean, or a liar, or small. And, I can’t reach the inner kingdom of God through my mind, in a sleepless bed, or by airplane.

Jesus said that the kingdom of God is within and I believe Him. It would have been very helpful had He given us an idea of how to get there. Instead He described the kingdom of God in many oblique ways like the valuable pearl. Did He call it a pearl because it is born within? How beautiful.

Ahaa! I just thought of something. One reason why I am having such a hard time is that I am not trying to go to the kingdom of Evangeline, but that is where I always end up.

To go to God's kingdom, I must be invited even if that kingdom dwells inside of me. This reminds me of my pro-life argument. For the same reason that the inner baby should not be extinguished at the will of the outer mama, the inner kingdom of God is not beholden to the whim or will of the outer person.

Like the baby and the mama, God and I share this body. His kingdom within is a royal palace. I can clear my mind for hours, or I could praise and worship but if I am not invited in, I am as if stuck at the airport.

Lord, may I visit Your kingdom within me someday soon?