Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Christos Anesti!

Ok, I left off on Holy Saturday....

Afterward, I started cooking for the Paschal feast. I made Curry Devlied Eggs and Cheese Grits. Pascha ends the long period of fasting, so we get pretty excited about making and eating our favorite dishes. After cooking I got a chance to take a nap. Around 10pm Brandon and I headed for church.
Soon after the Paschal service began we turned out the lights and extinguish the candles. Then we lit candles from one large candle that Fr. Troy carries. We made a procession outside with the candles and sang. While we were outside we began singing Christ is Risen!

When we returned all the lights were on and everything was bright and beautiful! Then we sang "Christ is risen from the dead trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!" Then the clergy each repeated "Christ is Risen" three times in various languages. My favorite was Deacon James and his progressively louder "Christos Anesti!!!" (That's greek.) We respond to each with "Indeed He is Risen!" in each language (We had a cheat sheet with all of the languages on it.) I love the sense of connection with so many other countries.
(I stole most of these pictures from Kh. Susan's blog, she's got a knack for taking great pictures.)

I love how we approach Christ's Ressurection. It's a big deal! The entire period of Lent, the bright sadness, leads up to the most glorious of feasts! Holy Week was hard, and for good reason. It made Pascha even more amazing. Easter isn't just another day for us. I don't know any better way to say it, it's a big deal!

After the liturgy, we the feasted by eating all the delicious goodies we craved during Lent. Much of the food is meat-centric but there were plenty of egg and cheese laden dishes for Brandon and I to feast upon, including Elizabeth Cameron's mac and cheese... YUM! Someone brought the Russian Paskah cheese, and I love that person. It's this yummy sweet soft cheese... I really want some right now! My friend Christine and I had a food strategy, we decided to eat very small portions of only a few items and to eat minimal carbs. This way, we were able to eat more cheese and not feel too full too fast. Christine's been Orthodox since she was a little, she's had some practice!

Finally I made it home around 4:00am and then slept until noon! That afternoon we had Agape Vespers followed by a picnic. At the Vespers service we read the Gospels several different languages. I think we had 8 different languages read, including: Norwegian, Greek, German, Spanish, Polish, and French. It's really cool! The picnic was rained out, but the kids were still able to have an indoor egg hunt. Then after the picnic my friend Anne Katherine surprised us by playing her bagpipes, it was so fun!
This past weekend was wonderful... I can't think of any other way to end this post than by saying what we say to fellow Orthodox Christians during this season: Christ is Risen!... Indeed He is Risen!

Arabic: El Messieh kahm!... Hakken kahm!
Russian: Khristos voskrese!... Voistinu voskrese!
Greek: Christos Anesti!... Alithos Anesti!
Romanian: Cristos a inviat!... Adevarat a inviat!
Spanish: Cristo ha resucitado!... En verdad ha resucitado!

Monday, April 28, 2008


The task of writing this post is daunting! There's so much to say.
Holy Week began on Sunday with the celebration of Palm Sunday. That night was the Bridegroom Orthros service. On Wednesday was Holy Unction, anointing with oil, a service of healing.

On Thursday we had a Liturgy followed by a meal followed by the Passion Gospels service. During this service twelve passages from the Gospels are read about Christ's Passion, as they are read a candle is lit, it's a little bit lengthy, but worth it. During this service the priest hangs a figure of Christ upon a Cross. Since we observe the coming days as beginning at sundown, we observe Christ's Crucifixion on Thursday evening.

On Holy Friday we spent almost the entire day at church. The Royal Hours service began at nine, then at three were the Taking Down From the Cross Vespers. At this service the icon of Christ is removed from the Cross, and it is wrapped and placed in the funeral bier, representative of the tomb.

That evening is the Lamentations Orthros service. This is a very somber but beautiful service. It is a lot like a funeral. We process outside with candles and enter back into the church after walking under the funeral bier. It represents baptism.

That afternoon the Vigil began. This means that someone was at the church constantly until Pascha, reading the Gospels and other scripture, keeping vigil until we celebrated Christ's Resurrection. Brandon signed up to read between 4:30-5:30 am. I decided to go with him, and it was one of the more beautiful things I have ever been a part of.

The Church was dark save for a few candles and only about 5 people were there at any given time, and the only sounds were the words of the Gospel being read. Recounting Christ's Passion until we would celebrate His Resurrection.

After going home and grabbing an hour long nap it was time for the Holy Saturday service. This was the service I've been waiting for since July of last year. It was my formal reception into The Church through anointing with oil. It was also the first time I was able to take communion. It was an incredibly emotional day. I can't really describe how amazing it was. Until I can think of something adequate to say, here are some pictures of the service.

The Chrismation Service began in the back of the Nave, ending up on the Solea. There were 12 people being Chrismated this year, including our friend Chase, it was very joyous

After the liturgy everyone sang "God grant you many years" for those of us who were newly illumined, it was so wonderful!

These are mine and Brandon's patron Saints, St. John Maximovitch and St. Catherine the Great Martyr. Although they aren't in the picture, my sweet friend Hannah (whose Patron Saint is also St. Catherine) had placed a vase of daisies underneath her icon in honor of my Chrismation. She also gave me an icon card of St. Catherine that had been blessed on her relics in Greece. I'm incredibly lucky to have friends like Hannah!

Here we are, the newly illumined.Me with the best sponsor ever, Meribeth. I love her very much! I figured it would be too daunting to tackle Holy Week, Chrismation and Pascha all in one post, so I'll wait until later to post about Pascha, but until then.... Christ is Risen!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

here's what happened:

Yesterday afternoon I called my Godmother to see if I could take her son Pavel to The Zoo. Sadly thunderstorms cancelled our plans. We ended up at the Pink Palace. We hung out for a little while then decided to get Pavel some ice cream.

While we were sitting still in the left turn lane (behind the other two cars in the painting) waiting to turn onto Highland I heard a loud bang, and felt something smack my face. I was incredibly confused and then realized we had been hit. Before I could fully process anything, two people were standing at my window asking if the little boy was OK. Pavel was as cool as a cucumber! He is the bravest 6 year old EVER!

The man who hit us was turning left from Highland onto Central (he is represented by the green orb mine is the periwinkle colored orb) he says his steering wheel got stuck and so he just kept turning and ended by hitting us. He hit my car on the driver's side front (my door won't open.) Then his car turned and also hit the back driver's side door.

The sweetest lady who was on her way to PDS let us sit in her car while we waited. She also let Pavel watch a DVD until Meribeth came. We waited for close to 40 minutes for the police, needless to say this makes me a little bit angry.

Pavel and I are both fine. I'm a tiny bit sore and I have a bruise on my arm. The other guy's car was drivable and he was fine. My car is pretty badly damaged. I'm very lucky though. I wish it had happened any other time, by that I mean a time when I was driving solo.

Pavel assumed the role of "comforter of Caitlyn." Minutes after the wreck he looked at me and said: "Miss Caitlyn, is this the first time you've been in a wreck?" I said yes and he proceeded to pat me on the arm. We're bonded for life now.

I feel terribly lucky. Everyone has been so helpful. My parents are out of town and Meribeth helped me out so much, she even fed me dinner and got me sorbet. (We had to make it up to Pavel for not getting ice cream.) Reem, a friend from church,saw us and stopped to see if we were OK. Also our priest Fr. John was also helpful in telling us what to do. I've been inundated with "are you OK?" phone calls since last night. My sweet boyfriend also helped me out so much, he gave me a ride home and brought me "I'm sorry you had a wreck" flowers, chocolate, and a DVD.

Now we wait. I haven't heard from anyone about the state of my car yet. I'm going to miss my "Peri" (that's her name, since she's periwinkle) if she's totaled. Plus I was just about to pay her off, I figured I'd drive her for at least the next 5 years! I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

absolutely obsessed...

I tend to get really excited about the things I like. Here are the things I am currently obsessed with:
(Oh I think I should give credit to my friend Laurin, her post last week about things she likes inspired me.)

1. The amazing tofu at Pho Hao Binh. My friend Laura introduced me to this place. No joke it's the meatiest tofu ever. It's a total dive on Madison, and we all know a dive means cheap! I had lunch with my friend Christine yesterday and it cost me $5.19, gotta love it!

2. Vegan with a Vengeance. It's the cookbook written by the writers at the Post Punk Kitchen. In the past 3 days I've made 4 different recipes in it, and they've all be amazing! I made the pancakes, sun dried tomato and mushroom risotto, thumbprint cookies and improvised cranberry orange scones, I used her recipe for a basic scone and jazzed it up. It is truly the best cookbook ever, vegan or otherwise!

3. Ready Made Magazine. Brandon got me a subscription to it a few months back. I just love their DIY attitude. It's so modern and not at all cheesy, it's very hipster. I read it and think I'm awesome.
4. Pike Place coffee at Starbucks. I really like it. It's new, and I think it's awesome! Plus we got these really cute new brown cups. (I'm a Starbucks nerd.)

5. My clutch wallet. It makes me feel like I'm a 50's housewife.

6. Getting my car door fixed. Currently, I have to climb in through my passenger door. For no real reason at all my driver side door decided to stay locked. It's physically impossible to unlock it!

7. My brand new water bottle. It's seriously beautiful. Brandon gave it to me as a "welcome home from Vicksburg" present.

8. Going to church. Our Easter (Pascha) is coming up in 2 weeks. This coming Sunday is Palm Sunday, and the following week is Holy Week. Things are getting busy. I'm really looking forward to Pascha and my Chrismation on Holy Saturday!

9. Yummy Arabic food. Can you tell, I'm obsessed with food? We had lunch at Jerusalem last Sunday. Another dive, but seriously they have falafel for under $4! They also have an amazing grocery store. We got all sorts of yummy food. I got tahini, falafel, baba ghanoush, halva, some cookies and an ibrik to make Arabic coffee in. YUM!
10. Stationary. I've always been obsessed with stationary, but I just bought the cutest Thank You notes at Davis Kidd. They make me smile.
11. My boyfriend. Sorry for the PBDA (public blog display of affection, but I really like him!)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

the buzzing metropolis of vicksburg, ms

This is the place where the Orthodox Christian Education Commission (OCEC) held the Orthodox Institute Southern States. Along with my friends Gigi and Adam loaded up the car and drove down to Vicksburg Friday evening. The conference was only a two day event, Friday night with an address by Father Daniel Kovalak and then Saturday for the teacher training course. Apparently they have some sort of battlefield or something like that in Vicksburg, we didn't have time to see it.

Gigi and I learned so much about teaching, i.e. teaching Vacation Church School this summer (and in Gigi's case, teaching Church School on Sundays.) The training was intense, but incredibly worth it. The Vicksburg people were super nice, we even made a new friend Misty, she was the sweetest person ever!

The conference was held at St. George Orthodox Church, it is a pretty old church. Especially considering that it in the heart of the south. Needless to say there aren't too may Orthodox churches in the deep south. It's over 100 years old and St. Raphael of Brooklyn even visited many years ago.

Even though Orthodoxy is something like 2,000 years old, it's nice to find Orthodox churches with a deep sense of history. St. George's has originally catered to a largely immigrant population when it was first built, nowadays they have a very interesting mix of converts and "cradle Orthodox." The photos of the parishioners from long ago are so cool. I was very intrigued by this church if you can't tell.

Anyway, we had a great time. We bonded, we learned, and now we're tired!

P.S.- across the street from the church was "The Nappy Roots Hair Salon," I'm definitely going back to get my hair did.
P.P.S.- I think I want to take up photography, any ideas?

Monday, April 07, 2008

just plain busy

As a working college student I really need to understand that the word "weekend" means nothing! When the weekend begins, the work intensifies. I babysat several times this weekend along with work at Starbucks. I also found time to apply for yet another job.

I'm trying to move out. I really want more independence. I love the free rent, food, etc. of living with my parents, but, I'm 22 and it's time. I have a roomie, my friend Gigi, now the fun part: finding an apartment and money to pay for this apartment. I've applied at two places, so now I wait.

Meanwhile, If anyone has an idea for a part time job where I could make a tiny bit more money, let me know! (Oh, and please no pyramid schemes.) I've thought about several options, anyone need a maid or maybe a personal assistant?

This week begins the second in my list of jobs, a new nanny job. I'm so excited, I love the family and their daughter is super sweet. It's a nice change of pace from the craziness of the 4 boys I used to babysit.

This is my life, mostly mundane with an occasional dash of something worth writing about.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

the homeless tree

Let me begin by saying: This post is not some proposal on how to end homelessness. Neither is this a self righteous raving about how I help homeless people and you should too.

This is a confession of how I have failed these people, my neighbors. I confess I routinely turn my head when driving past homeless people. I confess I have been irritated by friends who have stopped walking to pass on a few dollars to someone who has humbly asked for their assistance. I confess I've never volunteered at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen. I confess I have had feelings of disdain and resentment for people just like me who simply have no place to sleep tonight. I confess I've been scared of these people. I confess I've never shed a single tear for a homeless person. I confess I have still have little remorse for this sin. I know should weep for this sin, I do not. "For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me."

"The homeless tree" is near the intersection of Sam Cooper and East Parkway. It is situated on a grassy patch of land. If you know anything about this area you are aware of the almost constant presence of homeless people on the medians at the traffic lights. They hold signs asking for assistance, and wait patiently for passersby to show kindness. Recently I noticed these people have made this tree a makeshift shelter, at any given time two or more homeless people sit under this tree...

It prospers. The tree is lush and green, it has an elaborate wardrobe that updates itself seasonally.
They wear clothes that blend in. Somehow, their clothes dissolve into a monotone shade of gray. They have weathered skin, a deep tan. Endless hours in the sunshine have turned their features into leathery versions of their former selves.
They fight the elements to survive.
The tree is enriched by the sun. The tree needs the weather. The rain, the sun, the heat, they are essential to the tree's existence.
They are humble. Any pride they formerly had is banished with an accessory like a soggy cardboard sign. No one can put on airs when begging for change.
The tree stands proud. It curves beautifully at its trunk. It is graceful, it is strong.
They are hungry. They pray for their next meal. They hope they will eat, many know they will not. The cardboard sign is their hope.
The tree has never asked for a meal. The tree never misses a meal.
They both stand at the corner of these two streets.
While one is healthy, the other is dying.
The tree is content to stand at the intersection, this is his home.
They have no home, other than the tree. They congregate beneath its lush branches, it gives shade and provides a place to rest.
Why this tree? Do they find solace in the deep roots and sturdy trunk of the tree?
The contrast is startling. The tree is a symbol of life, while their spirits epitomize dying.
It's a simple tree. They are people who simply do not have a home.

The tree does its part to help the homeless, it is there, it contributes, it encourages, it protects... If only I could say I've done half as much, if only I were more like the homeless tree.