Saturday, May 22, 2010

Guardian Angel

Just one note before bed. I forgot who told me this, but I've heard that when deep in prayer, it is sometimes possible to sense your Guardian Angel behind and slightly above your right shoulder. I have personally had the bejeezubs scared out of me on several occasions by a 'presence' which I've consistently felt in just that location. Sometimes it is a wispy something barely caught with my peripheral vision. Sometimes it is a muffled, indistinct sound. Sometimes it isn't anything I can detect with any of my senses; it's just a feeling... but every time it's behind me and a little to the right. Mostly it will happen when I'm standing up facing my icon corner and saying my nightly prayers, and once it happened while I was prostrating for several minutes.

It is definitely a spooky feeling, and on more than one occasion I've physically jumped, shuddered, shook, or dropped my prayer book. I've been experiencing some similar phenomena leading up to my baptism (I won't go into descriptive detail of these phenomena now, as I'm pretty tired and am about to hit the sack), which I believe are signs from God. I'm just sorry that it took such a perilous personal situation, this crisis which occurred about four weeks ago, to spur me into actually praying with some intent.

So, it isn't hard for me to accept the possibility that these feelings which continually occur above and behind my right shoulder are instances in which I can sense my Guardian Angel watching over me while I say my prayers before I lie down to sleep.


Today I am going to be baptized. I had a horrible day yesterday. The enemy prepared a final onslaught and really let me have it. I succumbed to despair, fear, anger, and brief feelings of hate. I'll have to confess this soon.

Spiritual warfare is a real bitch. It's funny... how true this all is, that there really is an enemy who is hell bent, literally, on removing us from God and damning our souls. Back before I had any faith at all, the enemy had me in his grip, almost totally. The one spark that remained which was mine was what allowed me to build up my relationship with God through the Orthodox Church for the past year and a half. For the first year, before I was a catechumen, I still didn't really notice any spiritual warfare going on. It was only after I was made a catechumen that I began to suffer serious attacks.

Yesterday, like I said, was the heaviest, most brutal offensive of the enemy yet. And I gave in to his influence. However, he isn't going to stop me from being baptized. He has damaged my faith and my heart as a worthy vessel for the Holy Spirit. Today had the potential to be so much better, more joyous, and more pure than it is going to be. The enemy damaged me. However, he did not destroy me. My baptism is still going to occur. Things will be harder, and the road to my salvation will take longer, and I will probably suffer more setbacks because of this, but with God's Grace, and by His Will, I will persevere.

Ok, here goes.

Friday, May 21, 2010

My life confession

Yesterday I had my life confession. It lasted for two hours. It didn't seem that long, but yeah. Two hours. I don't know if that's extra long, or normal or what... anyway. I stood there in front of the iconostasis with a thing on my head, what is that thing... kind of a long scarf thing. It was a lot more like being inside something private than I thought it would be. So I had a sheaf of papers, about 16 pages, filled with junk from my life that I was going to confess.

Before I arrived at the church, I went down to the Copy Pro to print it. I wasn't looking forward to that. I'd tried to print it here at home, but the printer is completely out of ink. So, I saved it all on a flash drive and drove down to have it printed. When I got there, I plugged my flash drive into the computer, loaded it up, and hit 'print'. I looked around to see if it was printing anywhere near me, and I heard a printer warming up behind the counter. Shoot... I was hoping it would be where I could get to it quickly. So, I looked behind the counter and saw a printer spewing out page after page. After it stopped, the proprietor gathered them up and approached the counter, where he started thumbing through it. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I grabbed for it and tried to pull it away from him. He held on. I pulled harder. He held on harder. I said, "That's private." He said, "Do you know how many pages there are?" Abashed, I released my grip on the sheaf of papers and he continued to thumb through the most private and shameful parts of my life, counting pages. He finally got them all counted and mumbled, "Sheesh, I don't even have my glasses on..." and charged me a dollar ninety. I handed him a five, he gave me change, and I hurried out of there. It was exactly as bad as the worst thing I'd imagined happening.

So then I drove to the church. Of course I was pretty much scared shitless when I arrived there. I walked into the... sanctuary? Narthex? Alter? Whatever the church part is called where the congregation stands. I still don't know exactly what to call it. The church. That's where I was. Anyway, I went in there and Fr. Justin was there, and he said "Hi Ash" and I said "Hi Father" and he left through the library nook door. So, I just had a seat there. I waited for about five minutes (I had arrived at 3:30 on the dot, that's when I was scheduled) and then I started to get fidgety. I got up to see if Fr. Justin was waiting for me in the coffee room. Nope... I went back into the... church. And sat down again. I waited for another five minutes and was about to get up and go have a smoke when Fr. Justin appeared. He asked me if I needed a little time, and I said "No thanks, I'm ready." I guess that's what the 10 minutes was for... that was very considerate.

So, back to the confession. I venerated the icon and cross and Fr. Justin said some prayers, the Trisagion being one of them, and I was surprised to find myself saying it along with him. I don't have it memorized, but with someone saying it, it all comes to me. So then Fr. Justin put the... anyway, there I was standing there as I described before. I dove into my confession.

I was ok all through it until I got to the parts where I've hurt Leah, and I choked up and had to stop. The list was so long. I didn't remember writing all of that... I continued to read, time after time, again and again, how I had hurt her, and it was like having it handed to me by somebody else, telling me "You did all of this to her. You did it. You. You're guilty." And I had to stop again. It was powerful emotional. I finally got through it and continued on.

At the end, after two hours, I was tired. Fr. Justin was tired. I stretched, popped some joints, bent over, popped my back, stretched... wow, did that just happen? Then Fr. Justin and I went outside and I burned all 16 pages in this soot stained pot. I stood there, feeding page after page into that pot, watching them burn. I guess I should have felt some kind of relief after all of that, but in truth, I only felt really tired. Dead tired, grievously tired. Drained and empty. I went home and cooked some eggs, drank a beer, and fell asleep on the couch.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

New house guests

Earlier tonight, I was a little concerned about Gray Kitty because I hadn't seen her since I got back from East Texas this afternoon. Matt said that she'd been gone all day, and that he was starting to wonder about her, too. Apparently what happened was that she caught a big dose of fleas from some other neighborhood cat, so Matt put some kind of flea treatment on her that she didn't like one iota. She ran off as a result and hasn't been around for most of the day. Gray Kitty doesn't normally stay gone for most of the day like this, but I guess getting dosed with flea spray is a pretty good reason for making herself scarce.

Anyway, around 11:00 I opened the front door to call for Gray Kitty, and what did I see? Not Gray Kitty, but a completely different kitty altogether:

? Thought I. I knelt down and called to the new kitty, and to my surprise, she ran up to me and started rubbing my hand! Well, this endears me pretty quickly to kitties when they are friendly, so I petted the new kitty for a good long while, letting her (I think it's a she) rub against my ankles and legs. I wanted to pick her up, so I finally decided to risk getting scratched and hefted her up to my chest. She didn't fuss at all... she actually liked it, which is kind of rare in my experience with kitties. Even Gray Kitty doesn't like to be held unless she's the one who decides that I'm going to hold her, and usually that means she's going to allow me to let her curl up on my lap.

After that, guess who got jealous and ran up? Gray Kitty! Now, Gray Kitty probably is used to me chasing off all of the neighborhood cats when they come prowling around, so I'm guessing that when I didn't immediately chase off this new kitty, Gray Kitty might have been a little confused or even miffed. Apparently she'd just been biding her time, watching this new kitty and seeing what was going to happen. When I finally picked up the new kitty, I don't think Gray Kitty was too thrilled, which is why she chose that moment to reveal herself. So, I picked up the Gray Kitty and gave her some love too. Now, this whole cat jealousy thing might just be all in my head, but it's fun to imagine.

After I put Gray Kitty down, the other kitty was immediately interested. I didn't want to see a cat fight, so I got ready to chase the other one off. However, nothing really happened. The new kitty followed Gray Kitty around the yard for a little bit, and Gray Kitty tolerated her as long as she didn't get too close. Gray Kitty hissed once at the new kitty, but that was it.

For some reason, Gray Kitty attracts every single neighborhood cat within several blocks. However, Gray Kitty has never gone into heat, and I know what a cat in heat looks and acts like, thanks to a kitty who I used to hang out with not too long ago. During her 'time of the month', this particular feline seemed to be of the opinion that I was her boyfriend. Aggravating, let me tell you.

I figure there are two possibilities... either Gray Kitty is spayed, or she is in kitty menopause. This means that either she is still pretty hot for an old lady, or that she's just super cool and all the other cats want to hang out with her all the time. Maybe she's a celebrity kitty; she is a pretty fearsome huntress, and I wouldn't be surprised if she has some fans.

About those fleas... unfortunately, Gray Kitty does have a pretty bad case of them. Just now I found one crawling on my arm, so I either got that one when I picked up Gray Kitty, or they're actually in the house on the furniture. Yeesh. I wonder if a bug bomb will kill a house full of fleas? And Gray Kitty probably caught them from the new kitty, and I had that one all cuddled up next to my hair...

Oh well. I'l get some flea dip for Gray Kitty tomorrow, and see about bug bombing the house. Sorry Gray Kitty, but you can't sleep in my bed until the fleas are gone. :\