Sunday, August 19, 2007

What Color Crayon Am I?

Stolen from Meg's blog which I faithfully read here:

You Are a Red Crayon

Your world is colored with bright, vivid, wild colors.
You have a deep, complex personality - and you are always expressing something about yourself.
Bold and dominant, you are a natural leader. You have an energy that is intense... and sometimes overwhelming.
Your reaction to everything tends to be strong. You are the master of love-hate relationships.

Your color wheel opposite is green. Green people are way too mellow to understand what drives your energy.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Another one.....

001. Name? Denise Babineau Norman
002. DOB? I'd have to kill you. Suffice it to say that I could be your mother. But I'm a Virgo.
003. Eye color? Brown
004. Hair color? used to be dark reddish brown, but now its salt and pepper
005. Height? 5'2"

006. Country? I'd like to eat my way through the Mediterranean countries
007. Food? Um.... Thai
008. Movie? Moonstruck, The Quiet Man, My Big Fat Greek Wedding
Drink? Ice water
010. Animal? Puppies and kittens
011. Color? This is the most annoying question! For the record, every color has its beauty
012. Song? Psalm 134 by Ippolitov-Ivanov; Rejoice O Virgin - Rachmaninoff; Lord's Prayer - Kedrov Sr (in Slavonic); Annunciation Kontakion (To Thee our Champion) old Antiochian melody; Unto the Mother of God - Arkhangelsky......
013. Sport? Figure skating
014. Jewel? Pearls, sapphire
015. Subject? Liturature
016. Best thing that happened to you in the last few years? My church family
017. Do you want to get married? BTDT and once is enough for anyone
018. Kids? Got one already - too old in every possible way for another
019. Best place to go on a date? Stay home, eat dinner, listen to music, talk, cuddle
020. What is your dream? To be debt-free
021. What do you want to do when you grow up? I'm still not sure.... an iconographer
022. Play an instrument? used to play all brass instruments, particularly french horn, but its been a long time. Can play guitar some and piano a little. Sing a lot.
023. Ever danced barefoot in the rain? Oh, yes!
024. Friend you have known the longest? Hm.... well Keith is dead, so other than the exhusband, I'm going with Ellen.
025. Best friend(s)? Ellen, Joan, Cindy and Fudgie
026. Friend that makes you laugh the most? My cousin/sister Ethel!
027. Friend who you can talk to anything about? See #25, but mostly Fudgie
028. Friend with the best personality? Life is not a contest, as I used to tell goddaughter number five

Best? Opinions/ Thoughts
029. Abortion? Wrong
030. Gay rights? Right
031. Violence in the media? Wrong
032. Michael Jackson? REALLY wrong
033. Aids? We need to find a cure, and fast, before someone I love dies

034. Ever travelled anywhere? Across America, to Canada, to Mexico and to the Caribbean
035. What country do you want to visit? Anywhere in the Mediterranean, Russia, Japan
036. What state do you want to visit? California. I miss it. I'm homesick.
037. Do you want to live in a foriegn country? Maybe
038. Where do you want to live when you're older? In a male monastery muahahahahaha

Final Questions.....
039. Do you remember your dreams? Sometimes
040. Do you believe that there is such a thing as soulmates? Not in the usual romance novel definition, but yes, there are people with whom you are utterly attuned. So, yes
041. Do you believe in love at first sight? I believe in like and lust at first sight, but not love. Love is a verb - you have to give it time
042. What was your favorite childhood toy? My kewpie doll named Guadalupe
043. Thoughts on life??? Pollyanna and I both say that there is good in every situation if you look for it
044. If you were stuck on an island who would you want with you? A fairy godmother with a lot of books

Friday, August 10, 2007

Three by Frost and a Fourth


The day's coming
when I will no longer consider
my mere presence inexpiable.
I will place my hand in that flame
and feel nothing.
I will ask nobody's forgiveness again.
Or I will just go
among people no more --
I may writhe with
remorse in the night, but
the operation must be
undertaken by
me, anesthesialess.
No one must be asked to relinquish
a grievance that can't be removed
without further destruction,
it may be
it is lodged in who he is now
like a bullet in a brain
whose removal might only worsen its change.
The forgiveness! I know it
will be freely offered
or it won't, and that is all --
and no one may bestow it
on himself.
If it is to come
it will come of itself like a separate
a mystery, working
unseen as a wind causes still
leaves or water to move once again.
And hide me in the shadow of Your wings.
Let the heart be moved again.

by Franz Wright


Where had I heard this wind before
Change like this to a deeper roar?
What would it take my standing there for,
Holding open a restive door,
Looking down hill to a frothy shore?
Summer was past and the day was past.
Sombre clouds in the west were massed.
Out on the porch's sagging floor,
Leaves got up in a coil and hissed,
Blindly striking at my knee and missed.
Something sinister in the tone
Told me my secret may be known:
Word I was in the house alone
Somehow must have gotten abroad,
Word I was in my life alone,
Word I had no one left but God.

by Robert Frost

Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

by Robert Frost

Desert Places

Snow falling and night falling fast, oh, fast
In a field I looked into going past,
And the ground almost covered smooth in snow,
But a few weeds and stubble showing last.

The woods around it have it--it is theirs.
All animals are smothered in their lairs.
I am too absent-spirited to count;
The loneliness includes me unawares.

And lonely as it is that loneliness
Will be more lonely ere it will be less--
A blanker whiteness of benighted snow
With no expression, nothing to express.

They cannot scare me with their empty spaces
Between stars--on stars where no human race is.
I have it in me so much nearer home
To scare myself with my own desert places.

by Robert Frost

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

St. Anna, Grandmothers and the Cloud of Witnesses

I was listening this morning to a podcast of Khouriye Frederica Mathewes-Green talking with Ihumen Athanasiy, the pastor of the ROCOR church which has a miraculously weeping icon of St. Anna. Their brief conversation brought me to tears. To listen to the podcast on Ancient Faith Radio, look for the podcast of July 19th here.

The icon began to exude myrrh three years ago on American Mother's Day. Within three days, the entire back of the icon was totally soaked with sweet smelling myrrh. St. Anna had always been active in Fr. Athanasiy's life, beginning with when his broken arm was annointed with oil blessed in honor of St. Anna in a RC parish by his own mother, named Anna. He always had a special devotion to St. Anna since a child because of this. Eventually, he asked the nuns at the Mt. of Olives paint the icon of St. Anna about 12 years ago.

Many women were cured from the myrrh from the icon. Eventually, the icon began to cry, in addition to streaming myrrh. Many miracles: Russian boy cured from cancer; a baby dead in utero came back to life after annointing with the myrrh; many barren women have conceived; whereever she goes, she brings peace and love.

Fr. Athanasiy said: "She *is* the grandmother of Christ, and when we Russians say Babushka, Baba, you know with Baba, what Mom and Dad won't give you, Baba gives you... This is the grandmother of Christ. This is our grandmother. " I was immediately filled with the image of my own grandmother, and then, quickly, of Dorothy, who has given so much to my daughter. Without her unconditional love for my daughter, there would be no grandmother in her life to love and teach her. How blessed we are to have Dorothy - both of us - but especially Elisabeth. I had been thinking recently that as soon as I'm done with my commissions, I would paint an icon of St. Dorothy of Kashin, her patron saint, for her, but now I'm thinking that maybe an icon of St. Anna, the grandmother of Christ, might be a better choice....

We should ask her to intercede for us and not be afraid to ask her to. About saints interceding for us, Fr. Athanasiy said: "It says, 'The Lord is wonderful in His saints" doesn't it? The saints are God's holy people. WE are called to be saints... We have become part of God's holy people, and there are people that we identify with because sometimes they've fought the good fight and have gone through the things that we've suffered and we identify with the Church Triumphant. Those are the saints..... and they are not nobodies, they're somebodies and part of the human race...We say to these people that we know.... that have gone before us: I pray thee, speak a good word to Jesus for me, and they do. " I think I've been neglecting the saints... not only my own patroness, but all of them. Not neglecting, really, but not incorporating the reality of their existence on earth and in heaven into my own prayer life. Hm.... that's not really what I mean..... Maybe this is more accurate: not truly understanding or believing in their desire and ability to assist me in my own little portion of the world, in my own struggles, and instead, blindly trudging ahead on my own because, after all, I do know best, don't I? Sigh.

He went on to talk about the Theotokos: "We say in the service when we read the Gospel to the Mother of God, '....Yea, blessed are they that hear the Word of God and keep it.' Who, amongst all of humanity has kept the Word of God better than the Mother of God? She is humanities 'YES!' to God. She is the new Eve. She is 'Eva' spelled backwards: Ave... she is our Yes... She leads us - God chose her. He could have said, 'Here I Am" but he chose one of us. She is not to be put aside, either.... I've put her aside in my life, ignoring her example and her love for me, just as I've done the same thing with Christ. Spiritual laziness is what it is. Or maybe, just not wanting to give up my fascination with me long enough to look at where I'm going.... WHO I'm walking towards.... Selfishness. On my name day, Annunciation, every year I say YES again in my heart and rededicate myself, and this year was no different, but then as the days pass, I forget that and get caught up in the minutinae of everyday life with me me me me me. That's who I really worship. Me. That's who I spend time with every day - Me. That's who I love most - Me. That's where my treasure is - Me. Sigh. All my prayers have to do with ME, MY wants, MY needs, MY complaints, MY emotions. No wonder I can't hear anything He says - I'm always the one doing the talking, and I'm talking about my favorite subject: Me. Where is the gratitude? Where is the love? Where is the submission to His plan for me?

Near the end of the podcast, Fredericka said: "When we speak to the Lord, we are never speaking to Him in isolation. All the saints and everyone is standing around and we can be speaking and pleading with Him and we can say, 'Mary, help me out here....'" and Fr. Athanaisy responded: "In the scripture, we are surrounded by a choir of witnesses. We are rich, because everyone who has fought the good fight is part of us. We have a claim to their friendship, if we want it. All of heaven is ours because we are baptized in the church. I hadn't thought in these terms before. No matter how isolated I may feel, no matter how my groanings are prompted by my feelings of solitariness.... I am never alone, am I? I believe this intellectually, but somehow I'm not comforted by it. I must not truly 'get it'. Not internally. In a way, that's what practising iconography does for me - that's what the pull is for me - I connect with the person that I'm painting and the person I'm painting it for. I feel at peace and loving and loved. Sometimes I talk to the saint.... I guess that's praying. Maybe. Its so... grounding is the best word, I guess. Connected. I'd hate to give it up.

Who knew that when I clicked on a podcast about a weeping icon today, that I'd find all of this?

Monday, August 06, 2007

In the Month of the Theotokos

The Theotokos is my patroness, my mother. Dormition Fast is when I'm reminded of that. I realize that I don't call on her enough, and don't rely on her to intercede for me and mine.

Sometimes I wonder about her.... she was a woman, after all. A normal human woman, who found herself in extraordinary circumstances, and responded wholeheartedly, and without looking back, to God. But sometimes I wonder what her life was like, what she truly felt. Did she miss a normal family life? From the age of three, she lived in the temple, so even as a toddler, she didnt' have a normal family life. Did she ever wonder about having a normal marriage? I guess miraculously giving birth to your own creator must be so mindboggling and humbling that everything else is burnt out of your mind and heart. Every passion, every desire.

A long time ago, I read that she was very quiet, seldom laughed or smiled, and seldom spoke, yet she was filled with love for everyone, and everyone was filled with love for her as well. I have a hard time hearing myself over the cacophony of my own thoughts.

Sometimes I think that maybe I should adopt another Mary as a second patroness, or another female saint. Or even a male saint. Sometimes I think that maybe I need someone I can understand better, like Mary of Egypt, or Mary Magdalene, or Mary, the sister of Lazarus, or Maria Skobtsova. Or how about St. John Maximovitch?

No, I'll stay with Mary the Theotokos, who chose me herself. My mother said that she used to pray all the time to her because she wanted a baby so much, and when she was finally pregnant with me, picked only a boy's name. But when they showed me to her, she was inspired and said my name was Denise Marie after the Virgin Mary. Mom believed that the Theotokos chose me, and I do too.

I'm nothing like her. But she is mine and I am hers just the same. Its always been that way. I need to do better. I'm going to try harder.


O most holy Theotokos, O only Lady who art utterly pure in both soul and body, look upon me, abominable and unclean as I am, who have blackened my soul and body with the stains of my passionate and gluttonous life.

Cleanse my passionate mind; set aright my blind and wandering thoughts and make them incorrupt; bring my senses to order and guide them; free me from my evil and repulsive addiction to unclean prejudices and passions which torment me; stop every sin that works in me.

Grant my clouded and wretched mind the sobriety and discernment to correct my intentions and failings that, freed from the darkness of sin, I might be worthy to boldly glorify and praise thee, O only true Mother of the true Light, Christ our God; for all creation, visible and invisible, blesses and glorifies thee, both with Him and in Him.


(From the SPIRITUAL PSALTER of St. Ephraim the Syrian; publ. by The St. John of Kronstadt Press)