Sunday, March 12, 2017

A Menu, Not a Checklist

The ladies were gathered in the church hall at long tables with pink cyclamen blooming as the centerpiece for each row. The microphone was ready. The children were back home tucked away with grandparents, fathers, friends. The evening was ours to focus on God.

Thanks be to God, I was blessed to attend a Ladies Lenten Retreat last weekend. The speaker was Khouria Krista West, an ecclesiastical tailor, purveyor of fine linens, and researcher and speaker in the field of Orthodox Christian Aesthetics. She shared with us about beauty, specifically restoring the image of Christ in us, and gave us handouts with ideas of how to implement this reality in daily life. One handout listed mentoring ideas, one handout listed books to read, one handout listed ways to add beauty to your surroundings.

As she gave us the handouts, she made it very clear that we should consider these sheets as a MENU - something to peruse and choose which ideas fit our own life. "This is NOT," Khouria Krista most adamantly proclaimed with a sassy slide of her neck and those knowing eyebrows looking down at us, "a To-Do List!"

Each of has unique gifts from God, unique circumstances, unique relationships, and unique phases of our lives that may or may not overlap with what is working well for another woman. So I hope you never feel pressure to try everything I offer in this online space. No indeed! But like Khouria Krista, I say, here are a variety of ideas, see if you desire to use any of them.

Does an idea make you inspired or excited? Try it out! Does an idea make you feel weighed down at the thought of cramming one more thing into your already full life? Or frustrated because you don't feel like you could make it work but maybe you should try? Well then, my friends, ignore it! May God who loves us dearly help us discern between the two and bless our efforts in Christ Jesus.

We are all beautiful in our Lord Jesus Christ in different ways.

As another way to recognizing the many different forms of beauty God has created and nurtured, I started a list of diverse and unique sisters in Christ. If any call to you, this resource and this one can help you learn more.

Very Young Woman - Martyr Aquilina of Byblos
Pregnant Woman - Matry Felicitas
Young Brave Mother - Martyr Julita (Ulita) of Tarsus
Elder Holy Woman - Mary of Egypt
Daughter of Abusive Parent/Nature-loving Woman/Clever Architect - Greatmartyr Barbara
Princess - Elizabeth the New-Martyr
Behind-the-Scenes Faithful Woman - New-Martyr Barbara
Refugee in a Strange Land - Ruth (you're going to have to look in the Old Testament book)
Misunderstood but Strong Woman - Mary/Marinus
Physically Blind but Spiritually Sightful Woman - St. Matrona

I bet we could put our heads together and think of many more. I'll be glad to add them to the list if you send me your ideas to orthodoxmother at gee mail dot com or reply in the comments below!

Each of us has a unique beauty from God. We do not have to be like all of the women listed above. We have to be the image of Christ manifested in the way God created for us!

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