Thursday, June 06, 2002

Wayne Olsen notes that he is reading Metropolitan Anthony Bloom's excellent Beginning to Pray. That is one of the few books I keep multiple copies of to be able to loan out or give away. (If you check the archives for April 20th, there is a link to a web site devoted to his work.) Metropolitan Anthony has the gift of explaining the basics of Orthodox sprituality in a way that is deep, but not so deep that the beginner like myself is in danger of drowning. I love The Philokalia, the anthology of Orthodox spiritual writing compiled by St. Nikodimos of the Holy Mountain and St. Makarios of Corinth (four volumes in the English translation, with at least one still to go), but feel a constant need to transpose the wisdom there into a key I can actually reach a few of the notes in. Orthodox spirituality has been transmitted mainly through monastic writers. Their work is indispensible, even for us lay folk. The question is, how do you walk that path while living a life with jobs, kids, sex and laughter? God willing, I plan on starting a regular feature here to work out some thoughts on this. I've been mulling over titles. I've already considered and rejected Orthodoxy With Training Wheels. The current leader is Suburban Ascetics; Orthodox Life in a Consumer Culture. Or I might just steal a suggestion from my friend David Yeago (playing off the title of David Brook's popular book) and call it Bobos in Byzantium. By whatever title, I plan on posting the first installment this weekend, talking about the Jesus Prayer.
We have had daily thunderstorms for the past week. Dark clouds and blue skies alternating in a crazy quilt pattern. Sudden downpours leaving pools and streams everywhere. Here is a haiku from the Japanese poet Issa:

in every pool of water--
spring sunlight

(Translation, Stephen Addis)

We took thirteen of the lambs off for sale yesterday. Susan, Stuart, John Richard and I slipping in the wet barnyard as we caught, ear-tagged and put them on the truck. Susan drove them off while I changed from boots and muddy denim to a coat and tie. The rest of the lambs were separated from the mothers and put in a fenced off section of pasture to grow a little more. Some we will keep, some will be sold at auction, some sold as breeding stock. The ewes seemed relieved. It was past time for weaning for most anyhow. It seems odd to look out in the yard and not see the usual dozen lambs that have squeezed under the fence to graze on the lawn and eat Susan's roses.