Wednesday, May 21, 2008

just let me finish

One thing I've noticed is almost a general trait among New Yorkers- their keen ability to be what you might call "active listeners", if you were nicer than I am. I can't stand this about New Yorkers.

Let me explain- it is next to impossible to tell a New Yorker anything longer than three words without him/her trying to figure out what the rest of the story is. "So I haven't finished this project yet-" "oh, because it is pretty complicated and confusing?" "um, no, I just had to work on something else". I have met a few people, natives even, who don't succumb to this weird east coast phenomenon, but by and large it is definitely an epidemic.

I think it has something to do with the general feeling of hurriedness here. I even get sucked in- I could have an hour to get to my train in Grand Central, but as soon as I step foot in that building, I become just another part of the throngs who are hurrying to their tracks- and the minute anyone is going too slow in front of me, it's like a personal insult, and sighs and sidestepping have become a natural part of my daily routine.

Maybe I am a slow talker or maybe I have really boring things to say, but I have experienced this weird tendency in many New Yorkers time and time again. I think I have actually agreed with the incorrect conclusion they come up with on more than one occasion, just out of a feeling of sheer absurdity. "So then I went back to my apartment-" "And a giant alien was waiting at the front door, with a message from Mars saying that you were to be taken back as a human specimen, but then when you got there the Martian king fell in love with you and married you and you had seven Martian babies, three of whom grew up to be successful Martian attorneys, who then argued your case to return to Earth, and then you did, only to find that only ten minutes had passed in Earth time?" "Yes, that's exactly what happened. How did you know?"

Thursday, April 10, 2008

as we move towards the objective

Oh blog, my friend that I have neglected. Where to begin. How to explain. It's not you; it's me.

Well, it seems that every year I have warm fuzzy things to say about the joyful struggle of Lent, and I was not going to let these 40 (or so) days pass without throwing a little nugget of my spiritual journey out there for my friends to chew on. Plus, I thought it was about time to make another past-due entry that begins with some inane joke about how this entry is really past due.

I guess this Lent has been somewhat different for me personally, considering that I began it by making a decision to leave my job. I'm certain that it was the right decision, and it was most definitely inevitable, but the limbo that comes with leaving a job without the safety net of another one (especially when you're supporting a doctoral student) can be a little unnerving, needless to say. However, we make ends meet for now through my being the temp, aka the girl who does the stuff no one else wanted to do/got around to doing. Eh, it's money, and experience.

This year, it seems like the Lenten period has really afforded me some sort of tangible growth as a person. I feel more peace, and I feel more capable of coping. It's been a time of loss, and uncertainty, and struggle (although I know that my loss and uncertainty and struggle is nothing compared to what others may face)- but I feel more grounded, like I can take a step back and look at everything a little more clearly. I'm thankful for that.

I just (finally) read C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity, and am now trudging my way through some monastic literature. And so I leave you with something that strikes home for me this Lenten season:

In Scripture are the words 'I humbled myself, and the Lord hastened to rescue me' (Psalm 114:6); and these words are there instead of 'I have fasted', 'I have kept vigil', 'I lay down on the bare earth'.

St. John Climacus

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Sonia Sophia

People all over the world (quite literally) have been mourning the loss of a wonderful young woman since last Wednesday. I hardly got to know her, but she was the wife of a dear friend of Mike's. I had always taken it for granted that sometime soon we'd make it to Boston to visit her and her husband, and I would finally have the chance to talk to her outside the realm of some official event like a graduation or wedding. Instead, we went to Boston on Sunday for her wake and funeral.

A few people asked me today about the funeral, and I couldn't help but smile and tell them how beautiful it was, which just sums up exactly who this woman Sonia was. I am not exaggerating because of any sentimentality: I have never witnessed such an incredible showing of love and togetherness, and such a huge impact coming from the life of one human being. The church was overflowing, and someone estimated that there were about 600 people in attendance, including 4 bishops and probably 50 clergymen. I learned too late that Sonia started an Orthodox preschool at the age of 21, something I would have loved to talk to her about. It has been in the back of my mind for several years now that someday it would be wonderful to start a parochial school, but I always thought "I will get my Masters first" or "no one would take me seriously until I am older". I was so humbled to find out that Sonia accomplished this feat years ago. And in so many other ways, the story of her life inspired me, and I believe will continue to inspire me. As heartbreaking as it was for the throngs of people to say goodbye to her, I don't think that one person could have left that service without thinking about how they could try to live up to the kind of person that Sonia was, or without the comfort of knowing that she is now enjoying something more beautiful than any of us can imagine.

There are many indications that Sonia knew that her time here would soon be up, and I, as well as many others, were bowled over by the implications of this- I keep thinking that she just really had an ear for God's voice, and probably understood things in a way that many of us only wish we could. Originally I had begun this post with my own complaining and petty cares, and it was nice, and appropriate, to go back and cut all of it out without a second thought. Sonia's life really has affected me in a profound way, and probably will for a long time to come. Talk about gaining some perspective.