Pinned Post of Explanations

This post will be pinned to the top with links to key ideas. This post explains RESISTING THE LIE; this post offers some explanations of traditional SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES; and as I write them, these are links to PHYSICAL PREPARATION (stocking up, getting into shape) and MENTAL PREPARATION (books, web sites, podcasts, etc.) that I have found helpful.

Body MIND & Spirit: Resources

Here is a very short list of books and a few web sites that I find helpful. I am not linking the books to Amazon. While we do order from Amazon over here, I try to find alternatives, such as an indie book store or even your own parish’s book store. The list could be so much longer, but I prefer to leave some off rather than lead anyone astray.

Web Sites
On the Orthodox Australia web site you can find Fr. Seraphim Rose’s
Orthodox Survival Guide
. A rather convincing mechanical voice reads Fr. Seraphim’s lecture notes. Weirdly wonderful.

Orthodox Study Bible
Jordanville Prayer Book
“Little Red Prayer Book”
Prologue from Ochrid (2 volumes)
The Law of God
Anything by Fr. Seraphim Rose. You can buy these from St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood.
Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future (still applicable for today)
Father Seraphim Rose: His Life and Works
Believe Not the Lie, Rod Dreher
The Benedict Option, Rod Dreher

BODY, mind and spirit: The matter of food and fitness

I am not a fitness expert by any means but I think we all know what we should do to keep our bodies in a somewhat healthy condition: Eat right and exercise. There a a thousand programs available for those who want to fix their diets and become more active; all you have to do is find one and stick to it. As an older person with some chronic ailments I have found a dietary plan that works for me and for exercise, I walk and garden. I am consistently lax in both these areas. Naturally, I think if you have problems with gluttony, tobacco, drugs and too much alcohol you should work on these problems. If we are going to be strong for Christ we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be hampered by indulgences. So no specifics from me on how many miles I think you should walk or how many calories you should ingest; look to experts for details. I don’t think I will be able to put up much of a resistance if I lay sit in front of the computer and eat Cheetos all day. So, no specifics; just encouragement.

As for food in general, I strongly encourage you to stock up on food. Put up a few shelves out in your garage and gradually fill it up with shelf-stable products, like flour, nuts, pasta, rice, canned fruit and vegetables, cooking/salad oil, oatmeal, granola/energy bars, fruit juice, canned beans, etc. People often advise stocking up on dry beans but beans take a long time to cook and who know what the future holds. Don’t forget pet food.

So are we going to hoard this stuff? God forbid! Creating a safe retreat from Chaos does not mean hiding in your house surrounded by cases of Pop-Tarts and toilet paper. You can, as you are able, make your retreat a base to reach out to others. You can turn your household into a safe haven for battered people who are out of resources. Rod Dreher suggests like-minded Christians forming study groups, like the people he interviewed for his book did during Communist times. However, this isn’t practical for many people. I myself would have little luck forming a study group of like-minded Christians. But as circumstances allow, we can welcome like-minded people into our homes, share food, conversation and books and a bed if necessary. The goal is not to become hermits! It’s to be prepared, so that we have food and strength, not only for ourselves but for others.

Next up: Some book, web site, and podcast recommendations.

Body, Mind & SPIRIT: Christian Disciplines

This is from an Eastern Orthodox perspective, but I think it’s adaptable for all genuine Christians. These are just my opinions, folks.

1. PRAYER. Keeping a morning and evening prayer rule is normative for Orthodox Christians and probably for many others as well. For us Orthodox, we use a prayer book. Here’s a short one from the Antiochians and a long one from the Russians. But even if all you say is the Lord’s Prayer morning and evening, that’s a good start. And don’t forget to pray before and after eating! Just a short “bless this food” and “thank you” is a good start.

For you non-liturgical types, make up your own prayer rule. If I were an evangelical, I’d say the Lord’s Prayer and read a few Psalms. (Don’t make this your Bible study time! Do that later!) I’d pray for all the people I know. What we do over at my house is we made a mega-list of all the people we know and divided it up into five lists (We have a different routine on weekends.) That way you are only praying for one-fifth of the people you know but you will get through the whole lot once a week. Have a special list for your own family that gets prayed for every day. So to summarize: Pray the Lord’s Prayer, read a few Psalms. pray for the people of the day and now you can add your personal requests. Oh, and have a special “sick list,” which can change as people get better. I say I’d do this “if I were an Evangelical,” but the fact is, when I WAS an Evangelical I didn’t do any of this, I just floundered around. So maybe this little bit of structure might help folks. I sure need it.

2. CHURCH: It is vitally important to have a home parish that you feel connected with. Don’t jump from parish to parish unless a situation is intolerable. Even if you find your fellow parishioners to be irritating, they probably find you to be irritating too, and these are the people the Lord has given you to work out your salvation among. Go to as many services as your schedule and stamina permit. If you live in an area where the churches are closed because of the Virus, I am not going to tell you what to do because you all know your own situations. Do what you can and pray that the situation improves because we need Church and we need the Eucharist. Try not to be too hard on those who make a decision that is different from yours. Instead, choose to believe their actions are being informed by their God-given consciences and that God may have different plans for each of His Children.

We need each other more than just Sunday morning. If you are on lock-down and don’t have much face-to-face contact, you can still pray for each other by name, call each other, text each other, love each other. You are probably not going to be able to come up with a Benedict Option-type community, but you can work to tighten the bonds that already exist.

3. CHURCH CALENDAR: Those of us who are Orthodox, or belong to another Christian liturgical tradition, already have a church calendar. For those who are unfamiliar, a church calendar notes all the holidays (“feast days”), commemoration of Saints’ days, and days of fasting. For example, today I look at Monday, October 5 on my calendar and note that it’s not a fasting day, the Gospel reading is from St. Luke and the Epistle is from Ephesians; and today we remember St. Phocas of Sinope. In practical terms this means my husband and I will be reading aloud from St. Luke and Ephesians this morning after breakfast and for our main meal of the day (noonish) we’ll be having spaghetti with tasty meat sauce. Here’s a little bio of St. Phocas. We read that he is a humble gardener who died for the Christian faith.

So what’s the point of following a church calendar? Apart from the practical aspects (pork chop or tofu for dinner?) it keeps one in touch with the Church. Of course, if you have a job or other obligations, you need a secular calendar to keep track of appointments, meetings, classes, etc. It’s hard to explain the value of following a church calendar if you’ve never done so.

If you are part of a tradition that does not have a special calendar, I think, with a little effort, you could make one for yourself. Probably your own congregation has a weekly bulletin which lists church services; that’s a good start. Include the birthdays of your family and friends and maybe even silly things like Taco Night and Sunday Dinner. You probably already have some kind of Bible-reading plan you can incorporate. I think putting these things on a calendar gives them a special significance which many find to be beneficial.

About Orthodox fasts: Wednesday and Friday are vegan days. There is also the Apostles’ Fast, the Dormition Fast, the Advent Fast and Lent. For those of you who might be a little rusty, here’s the fasting guidelines.

To Summarize:

  1. Don’t be neglectful of prayers
  2. Go to Church
  3. Put some order in your Christian life

Coming up next: Physical preparation for chaotic times.

Resisting the Lie

Xenia’s Garden is going to veer off in a different direction for a while. I’ve been inspired by Rod Dreher’s Live Not By Lies. The title was taken from a speech by Alexander  Solzhenitsyn, who knew a thing or two about trying to live as a Christian in a culture where everyone was expected to believe outlandish lies. Here in America we are being intimidated to believe lies: boys are girls, unborn babies aren’t humans, two same-sex couples living together is a marriage, and so forth. People who don’t cheerfully accept these lies find themselves fired from their jobs and publicly humiliated. Such a lie-denier will not find themselves welcome on the faculty of most US universities. If you keep your opinions to yourself and are hired at a school or company, you might have to watch a few videos about the joys of homosexual “marriage” before you sign your employment papers. And most people, even Christians, will watch such things without a peep because they need a job and who can blame them? Is it worth throwing your family into poverty for the sake of a video?

Yet we can say “no” to the lie in many ways, even if we are too timid to jump into the fray with both feet. We can say “no” and we can prepare. I believe that around the time of the 2020 election there will be chaos, especially if the results are not available election night (they won’t be) or if the election is close. I believe we need to prepare our households in Spirit, Mind and Body. And that’s the direction this little gardening/knitting blog is going to take for as long as it takes. Tomorrow: Getting into spiritual shape: If you were accused of being a Christian, would they find enough evidence to convict you? Stay tuned.

PS. I am going to be merciless in deleting comments that promote The Lie. Be warned.

Po-tay-toes! Boil em, mash em, stick em in a stew.

Potatoes and the like


Today’s Pickings.  I told someone the other day that I thought I might get at least
a laundry basket-full of potatoes.  That turned out to be overly optimistic!
There’s plenty of potatoes,  but they are mostly on the small side.  Most of them
are still in the ground so we’ll see! The berries are starting to fade but it was a great year for them.  The hens are getting old so only one egg this morning although I think there will be at least one more before the day is out.  Time to grow up some chicks. There’s lots of lettuce and string beans but so far,  the zucchini is not producing well.  There’s lots of big leaves but the squash don’t make it to good size without going bad.

Glory to God!



What a difference a few weeks make!


Compare this to the previous post!  Pumpkins and grapes,
with the rest of the plants hidden under these elephant ears.

We got so many blackberries this year,  and even a few stray
barley plants,  the result of spilled bird seed.

cathedral bells
Cathedral bells,  grown from seed and running out of steam for the year.

farm dog2
Sort-of-Farm-Dog Daisy, squinting in the sun.

2020’s Summer Garden

This is how it looked a few weeks ago.  Now the plants are probably 3x bigger.

There’s pumpkins, grapes, corn,  potatoes,  spearmint and string beans.

farm dog
Daisy is not much of a farm dog,  but she will help dig holes.  Terrorizes the hens, though. She is wearing her birthday necklace.

noodle in wheelbarrow
Mr. Noodles.  pasca table
Here’s our Pascha table.  We didn’t have Pascha at Church this year,  because of the Quarantine.  We watched a church service on the Internet,  and while it was very restful,  it was not the same.  The pussy willows are left over from previous years, as we missed Psalm Sunday, too.  The bleary yellowish blob in the lower left corner is actually an extremely delish lemon cake.  The kulich came from the ROCOR monastery in West Virginia.  We had lamb for dinner,  at home alone,  and not at Father G’s home as usual.  What a year!



New Etsy Shop

collage for blog

I have opened a small Etsy shop.  So far,  it’s just winter hats but I plan to add dog sweaters and other small hand-knitted goods,  in keeping with my modest abilities.

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