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Monthly Archives: May 2007

In just under 11 hours, my friend Kevin and I will be embarking on a journey to Chicago to attend the 14th annual Ancient Christianity and African-American Conference. From what I hear, it’s a can’t-miss event. It will feature Fr. Moses Berry, Fr. Patrick Reardon, Fr. Paisius Altschul, and a small host of others. I’ve also heard a rumor that an Orthodox celebrity might be in attendance. We’ll see.

On the way, we’ll stop by our sister OCA parish in Nicholasville, KY, to see some old friends and probably make some new ones. Also, this will allow us to split the driving up into two chunks. We really didn’t relish the idea of driving for 9-plus hours only to run into Chicago-area traffic at the end of the long journey. Yuck.

As a result, I’m going to try and follow the suggestion of a friend and blog about the journey. I imagine I’ll mainly do it here. But, I’ll also going upload to flickr as much as possible, and perhaps post a few random things on YouTube. We’ll be coming back on the 4th, so that should provide plenty of stuff to note, observe, or generally ponder in the interim.

I’m really excited about this trip. Not only is it pretty college student-friendly (read: inexpensive), but it will allow some networking and a chance to simply meet new people. Also, I’ve never been to Chicago or anywhere in the Northern Midwest. (The closest has been Cincinnati, which is barely outside Kentucky, so it basically doesn’t count.) More than that, though, I’m excited to attend the workshops and lectures. Which, it looks like this year’s conference will focus on repentance and its different aspects as revealed in the story of the Prodigal Son.

I’m not sure what I’ll post here. But, stay tuned and see. As Australian guitarist Tommy Emmanuel would say, “The next song I’m going to play is *insert title*. I hope you like it. I can’t wait to hear it myself.”

Oh…and if any of you will be at the conference, let me know. I love meeting new people. 🙂

Last night, I was setting up an account on Virb, a new social networking site that is like a mashup of MySpace and facebook.  (Franky, I think it trumps both of them.)  While customizing my profile (virb.com/twelveone), I looked at the preview for my page and it had some dummy text shown as a way of judging text color and size, etc.  The text was pretty familiar, in that it was the standard “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet…” jumble that is seen in undeveloped web and blog templates.  But, it has always bugged me that, though it appears to be just garbled letters, it also might be a meaningful phrase in, say, Latin.

So, I Googled it.  And, lo and behold, I came across a really neat (as far as geekiness goes) website devoted to the origin of the use of the phrase as dummy text (it first appeared as such about 500 years ago!) and the origin of the text itself, complete with translation of the original source. It even has a generator that will make up paragraph after paragraph of it. All in all, very interesting.  If you like useless information.  😀

www.lipsum.com

Me and Chuck

Last night, I attended a concert in downtown Knoxville. For much of the show, I was just a face in the crowd enjoying the music. Then, at the end of it, I looked up and saw a face that I haven’t seen in years.

It was a friend whom I’ve known since, literally, forever (our parents were good friends long ago). We lost touch, then ran into each other again around 6th grade, attended the middle and high schools, then slowly lost touch again.

Last night brought talks of old acquaintances with silly habits, where we’ve been in the last 6 ½ years, how we’ve changed, etc., etc.  I’ve had several of these conversations over the last year, but primarily through MySpace and facebook. It was nice to have an actual reunion with someone, getting to see them in person and being able to wander aimlessly about a courtyard while we discussed life.

VT Poem
As mentioned in my last post, I came across a poem at one of the memorials on the drill field while on a recent visit to Virginia Tech. The memorial belonged to gunman Cho Seung-Hui. The full text of the poem follows.


To Cho:

I am a Hokie.
You can not strip me of that, or
My love, my passion, or my truth.
My innocence is mine on the cross
And you can not have it.
You will not now nor will you ever
Have power over me.

The truth is I miss you.
I wish I could have shown you
His love, His passion, His truth.
It has set me free
And I wish I could share that with you.
I missed you.
I’m sorry.

So I must tell you now:
Even though you took innocent lives;
Even though you tried to put fear in our hearts;
Even though I hurt to the core;
Even though my eyes are tired of crying;
Even though campus, my home, will never be the same…

I forgive you
And I love you.

Erica

VT Memorial
Eight days after the tragedy that struck Virginia Tech, I went there on a pilgrimage of sorts to offer support to a sister chapter of Orthodox Christian Fellowships. Over the two evenings I was there, I attended two OCF meetings and had dinner with the members of the chapter and the visiting clergy.

It was neat to go and visit another chapter and to connect with new people. But more than that, it was very touching to walk through the Squires Student Center and see banners from different schools with words of encouragement. At that time, the most distant schools I saw represented were Trinity University in San Antonio, TX, and University of Alaska, Anchorage.

Some of the messages were more like letters, going into detailed descriptions of sorrow and pain felt by the writers. The most moving ones were the simple statements. A few that I read said things like “Sorry for the pain” or “I’m praying for you.” One student from a school in Alaska who was probably 7 or 8 years old simply said “Jesus loves you.”

Another thing that really impacted me was the resolve demonstrated by the students whom I encountered. It seems to me that it would be easier to sit in the grief and just allow yourself to be eaten up by bitterness. A researcher named Dimos with whom I stayed while there read a quotation from a book, a quotation that he had read the night before the shooting. It was by a priest who was writing a letter to a monastic community he had helped established, and he told the nuns there to be careful and not let bitterness creep in their hearts, lest the paradise in their heart become a hell. “What a scary thought,” Dimos said, “that the world around you couldn’t just be hellish, but that Hell could actually reside in your in your heart.” The students had chosen to press on and avoid that very thing, and I admire them greatly for it.

To help them along, the national OCF office sent four clergy to administer crisis surveys and talk sessions to the group, as well as further one-on-one time as needed. Also, the first evening, they held a memorial service lead by Bishop Tomas of the Antiochian Archdiocese. One of the clergy present was Fr. Kevin Scherer, executive director of OCF. I was very privileged to be interviewed by him for Ancient Faith Radio regarding why I had traveled from Tennessee to VT. He’s a very caring man, and I’m very glad to have him at the helm of OCF, especially after seeing the response at Virginia Tech.

While in Blacksburg, Fr. Kevin took some pictures of various things around the campus. Below is a slideshow of his pictures (featuring a few night shots from yours truly). [Note: There are a few closeups of a paper in a ziplock. This is a poem, the text to which I will post later.]

All who lost their lives, may their memory be eternal!

Sleeping

Sometimes I keep going back to sleep in the mornings because whatever dream I was having got interrupted, and I want to try and make sense of it or see where it’s going. In doing so, I’ll miss hours of time I could be putting towards doing something productive…and real.

This morning, I had a few times where I went back to sleep to pick up where the dream left off. Then, as I grogged awake, I realized that some of my life is like that. I’ve had many dreams interrupted in the course of my life, and I sometimes try to dwell in them and see how they make sense in light of things now. Which, I realize that’s not necessarily bad to do. But, if one does it enough, he gets stuck in the past and doesn’t know enough about what’s going on around him to really get anywhere.

This also happens with thoughts of future things. Maybe the dream hasn’t been interrupted yet. But, you sit around dreaming and never do anything about it. You get comfortable in your dreams and never make a move. Merely thinking never solved anything. A solution isn’t a solution unless you can carry it out, and that requires action.

Or maybe it’s thoughts of frivolous nonsense that just catch our eyes or tickle our fancies. So, we take them in and enjoy them over and over and over again while life flashes by. And this never gets us anywhere.

I want to get somewhere.

I want to wake up.

 I came across a great story yesterday but I didn’t have time to write anything in response until now. Check it out at The First Word Blog.

What’s interesting is the fact that I’m in a somewhat similar situation right now. Though, mine is a little more personal.

There’s a girl whom I’ve run into recently while on visits to Virginia. She works at a place where I’ll often stop and get something to eat. The first time I saw her, she gave me part of my order at no charge, asserting her kind intentions with little more than a stare that seemed to say, “I’ll take care of this.”

I’ve only seen her one other time since then. It took place one week after the first time. I walked up to the counter as she was counting a stack of bills from her register. She looked up and made eye contact to indicate that she’d be with me in just a second and she then continued counting. However, she soon stopped and said, “Oh, I’ll do it later. I lost count.” As I paid for my things, I gave her a short note of thanks for what she had done during my last visit and invited her to call me sometime if she ever wanted.

We haven’t really exchanged any significant communication beyond that. I know her name, but only because of the badge she wears with her uniform. She only knows mine because of the note. Oh…and she still hasn’t called. Not that I really expect her to, though. And, if she never does, that’s cool.

The interpersonal relationship we have is fairly superficial at this point. Yet, there lies under the surface an intrigue that goes beyond my exchanging glances and minimal words with a cute girl who seems to hold the same opinion of me. Do I daydream of her and hope that we can work something out? No. However, I cannot stop my curiosity. Will we ever talk beyond “will that be all” and “have a nice day”? Will we ever get around discussing which schools we attend or what our majors are…or even our ages? Or will we be content to keep things where they are?

David (the author of the above story) speaks of his encounter with his window friend in the park. He had the perfect opportunity to actually speak to her, but he did not take it. And I can understand why. When you get comfortable in your relationship with another person, you sometimes fear anything that would change it in the least. And, if he had begun speaking to her, I think it would have changed drastically.

Even before reading this story, I wondered about if I truly want to get to know to this girl. Not that I think it would be unpleasant. Though, there’s always a chance that things won’t be as good as they may have seemed…

As I drove to school last night, I considered this a great deal. Ultimately, I believe it’s not so much the thought that one of us might be disappointed. Rather, at this point, it would change the way the story is going, and it’s going pretty well so far. It’s very interesting to be in a situation like this.

And, for many people, the kind of question that pervades this scenario is often a great dilemma of life. “Do I change or keep on with what I know works?” “Do I take a risk or play it safe?” “Do I go an a nicely laid-out and well-planned trip, or do I go on an adventure?”

I tend to be more of an adventurer myself.

We’ll see what happens.

Over the next few days, new looks may abound until I find one I’m happy with.  Bear with me.  🙂

High School Graduation

At this moment, I’m attending the college graduation of a good friend. It feels as though her name was called hours ago; it begins with “h” and they’re now somewhere in the land of “w.” But this a community college with different types of degrees and certificates, and they seem to be giving them out in organized groups, meaning this could take a while longer. The light at the end of the tunnel is but a distant star-like flicker at this point. I’ve ordered a pizza.

While I’m certainly happy for my friend, I’m feeling very down right now. According to standard course, I should have graduated 3 years ago. Yet, here I am, no degree and not sure how much longer I have. Yes, I see all of the stuff I’ve been through coming together and melting into what appears to be my vocation. But, all the same…it’s very frustrating.

Perhaps the intense frustration caused by witnessing this event will catalyze progress and lead to success.

More thoughts on this later…