process, planting

Right now there are four of us. Five, if you count Westley, who's usually curled in elderly repose by the front door. Our friend who swept the floor went back to live in his repaired car, and now residing upstairs is a man who for many years wrote online movie reviews. He's a soft-spoken reviewer, who quotes easily from the King James Bible and became an Orthodox catechumen last fall. He waits to move up on the list for senior housing.

Last Saturday Tim, the resident reviewer, and I wrote letters to our priest. We each read the others' finished products and saw that we were sending quite the variety of messages. Humor, concern, caring chastisement, and insignificant chatter (from yours truly) were all included. There remains time for more letter-writing, and for me this is helpful. Processing, processing. We all will continue to do so.

This Saturday we'll have a community meeting at church, led by a priest from Portland who is also a family therapist. This clergyman visited us in November for the same reason: to give anyone who'd like the chance to process in the group. Not all wish to do so, of course, and that's fine. For me it's essential. I must observe and listen to all, piping up when a question bubbles forth.

We heard officially from the diocese last weekend that we no longer have a priest. A new one will be found. I imagine this will take a while, seeing as there's no abundance of Orthodox clergy, and seeing as this parish will not be an easy one to assume after all that's happened.

We've been front page news for weeks. A street person came in during Sunday's Liturgy (a kindly guest priest presiding), and told a member that the word "out there" is we are a bad place.

I'm more grateful than ever for our bishop, Maxim. During his last visit, he asked us to pray for him. He's an intellectual and also deeply grounded in the reality of actual love which comes from God. He implored us to remember we do not hide from the difficult trials we face and go through, but also and of the same importance, we do not focus on them. God is our life. Tribulations are passing away.

The Orthodox take accusations of abuse (of any sort) seriously. Whenever a priest is accused, whether by a parishioner or other person, he is immediately suspended from his duties until the church authorities finish their investigation. The standard they strive to follow is one of love and forgiveness, freedom and accountability. They continue in recognition of process.

I process this week out in the permaculture garden which our son, James, planted and nurtured. Out there I have "tidied," clipping old dead shoots, observing new green growth. Fennel's licorice breath. Lupine's bright geometry. Per James' suggestion, I spread Dutch White Clover seeds over a bare patch of ground, overseeding so the slugs won't decimate tiny ones, the newest expressions of natural growing. We'll see how it looks by summer; right now I can't imagine what will actually happen.