Monday, January 28, 2008


I guess I've been kinda quiet the past several days. It's probably a combination of factors:
  • not much going on that's worth writing home about
  • reading other stuff
  • feeling less inclined to write about everything
I'm still plugging along with my monastic readings, which probably has a lot to do with the third factor, too. Among other things, they tend to stress silence. If part of the point of starting this blog in the first place was to provide an outlet for my need to say stuff, even when no one wants to listen, maybe I will one day mature to the point where it goes away. (Don't worry--I'm not there just yet.) From the sayings of Macarius the Great:
26. One day Abba Macarius went to see Abba Anthony. He spoke to him and then returned to Scetis. The Fathers came to meet him, and as they were speaking, the old man said to them, "I said to Abba Anthony that we do not have an offering in our district." But the Fathers began to speak of other things without asking him to tell them the old man's reply and he himself did not tell them. One of the Fathers said about this that when the Fathers see that the brethren fail to question them about something that would be useful, they ought to begin talking about it themselves; but if they are not urged on by the brethren, they should not say anymore about it, so that they shall not be found to have spoken without being asked, and to have said unnecessary words.
In this respect, I say a lot of "unnecessary words." If Abba Macarius didn't need to finish a thought when no one else was interested (after, I'm sure, having carefully considered whether it was a thought worth bringing up), what could I possibly have to say that's so important I need to rattle on? When the topic is something that interests me, I tend to give much longer answers than anyone really wants. If I'm interrupted before I finish everything I wanted to say, I try to go back and finish, even if the conversation has moved on to something else. I think there's an important lesson here for me to learn, especially when most of what I feel like saying doesn't really need to be said in the first place.

Anyway, I finished The Spiritual Meadow and The Lausiac History a while ago, yesterday I finally wrapped up St. Cassian's Conferences, and I'm nearing the end of Sayings of the Desert Fathers. In the meantime, I've started getting some Orthodox periodicals that I recently subscribed to (Orthodox Word actually started me off with two free back issues and a calendar). I want to read St. Vincent of Lerins and probably St. John of Damascus; besides that, I'll go back and re-read some of the other ascetic literature I've collected. I'm also reviewing some math stuff. I always enjoyed math up through high school, but haven't taken a single class since. I was going through my old notes from college, scanning a bunch of stuff, and noticed my math-related doodling on the backs of pages. So over the past few days I've been refreshing my memory on some basic algebra, geometry, and trig (while drifting a bit into calculus). I've requested a pre-calculus textbook from the library, which I'll skim through before diving back into calculus. I don't plan to spend a lot of time on it, but right now it's a fun diversion.

I'm adjusting well to life on the porch. As slow as I am, it took me a while to make the connection to the name of this blog, though in this case the doorstep is the temple. Jim gave me some incense samples to play with. I appreciate the variety, but I think I'll be just fine with my (probably sub-par) less expensive, run-of-the-mill frankincense. I don't have much sense of smell anyway (unlike the rest of my family). I spent quite a bit of time and energy wrestling with the "matches or lighter" controversy (again, feeling like a smoker), finally settled on matches with some guidance from Jim; but because we seem to have a lot of lighters around the house right now, I guess I'll use a combination for the foreseeable future. (The big drawback to a lighter is it's harder to get down in the censer. I can hold the charcoal over a candle to light it, but when I'm re-using a piece I already burned, I figure it's less mess just to use a match.)

I was hoping to get to a talk at church last week on 20th-c. persecution and martyrdom, but it would have meant leaving Julie alone with the kids just about the whole day; since they were both sick, I changed plans at the last minute. Lord willing, Ian and I will be at this Saturday's liturgy for the feast of the Presentation.

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