Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Blessed One

B. has hijacked this blog. Rightly so, for there is nothing so important in our life than the health and welfare of our son.

I get overwhelmed sometimes by the support E & I are experiencing in these troubled times. And even more so when I think of all the people who have been praying for our boy.

Both E & I have gone through life with a certain feeling of disconnect from other people. We are not of the madding crowd, and sometimes that independence has left us lonelier than we might otherwise be. Suffice it to say, there is nothing that we have done to deserve this mass outpouring of love and prayer.

But our boy, our benedictus, is truly blessed ... daily lifted up to God by hundreds of voices, wafted to the throne room on the incense of prayer.

Thank you, my friends. For you are all my friends now. And my brothers and my sisters.


I know that monks pray for the world without needing information on the world around them. The rest of us, however, like to know what's going on with the people and the situations for which we pray. Here's a quick update.

As of a couple days ago, the head paediatrician was not worried about the NEC. Apparently, X-rays show the bowels as being clear; a diagnosis of "cured" will wait until the 10-day run of antibiotics is completed this Friday, and one last X-ray is taken. That's the amazing, wonderful news, already announced in this space.

B. is gaining weight at a ferocious pace - 2 to 3 ounces a day. We are not sure whether to praise God, though, or to pray. It depends on whether the weight gain is a miraculous but legitimate weight gain or simple and undesirable fluid retention from his intravenous catheter line.

There are a couple other minor complications. 1. His hemoglobin is low, and will continue to "drift" as his iron intake is non-existent at this time. By the middle of next week we will know whether a transfusion is necessary. 2. The antibiotics he was/is on are known to cause permanent hearing loss. The dosage was low enough the doctors aren't worried, but a hearing test has been scheduled regardless. 3. There is the small matter of reintroducing food to his system. Because no-one knows why he got NEC in the first place, suspicions are rampant about unknown allergens irritating his bowels. Much caution will be employed in the reintroduction to food - we pray for wisdom and discernment.

- V.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Slava Bohu

So much has happened in so few hours.

Over the past couple days E and I have been assured by family, friends, and near strangers that they were/are praying for our little boy. We have been overwhelmed by the support and love from so many, and we found ourselves shored up when we were most fragile.

The 24th was the single most frightening day of my life, and I know that I shed more tears in those horrific hours of waking than I have in the ten years (or more) preceding it. B.'s condition was serious, very serious, and it was treated aggressively. And the medical staff pulled no punches - they let us know, up front, the risks before us.

That was then.

At this time we have seen a series of X-rays showing a disease in remission, in marked remission - the pediatrician was "surprised at the speed" with which things began to turn. We have seen the removal of an IV, a UV, and an OG tube (less tubes protruding from our boy). Finally, he told us this afternoon that he did not expect the disease to flare back up. All that remains to B.'s stay, apparently, are the bowel rest, the antibiotics, and the slow reintroduction to food. In short, the crisis has passed, and God's name is glorified. On our lips, in our hearts, and on the lips and hearts of our friends.

So now, with hope and at peace, we can rest, confident that the journey ahead of us, though long (2-4 weeks more in hospital), will be a relatively straightforward one.

We thank, from the bottom of our hearts, all those who have prayed.
We celebrate those Saints by whose intercessions we know B. is being healed: his patron Saint, John Maximovitch, Seraphim Sarovsky, and the Holy Theotokos.
And most of all, and before all, we praise and worship the gracious God who loves mankind, whose eye is on the sparrow, who gathers the lambs in His arms.

Slava Bohu!


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Lord Have Mercy

Our little B. has taken a bit of a down turn in his health.

Yesterday at about three o'clock he was diagnosed with necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). Treatment will include complete bowel rest, 7-10 days of antibiotics, all nutrition provided intravenously for over 10 days, and considerable care given in reintroducing foods back into his system. Treatment may include surgery, an ostomy, etc., if he does not get better with the former. We should know within 48 hours in which direction the disease will turn.

I can't do much for my boy, except pray. And post this so that others may know, and pray also.

Lord have mercy upon our son.
St. B., patron of our baby, pray for him.


Sunday, July 22, 2007


To my complete and lasting surprise, my son decided to grace us with his presence six weeks early.

Introducing B., born July 17th. May God grant him many years.

- V.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Friendship - A Few Thoughts

Today I was visited by Markos, the brother of my soul, with whom I haven't spent quality time since about 1999. I feel refreshed and renewed - I feel like he brings something of Christ with him whenever I see him, and that is always welcome.

His visit, and my joy in his presence, has given me pause to think on the nature of friendship. Friendship is a mysterious thing. There is something mystical, divine, about the bonds that unite friends. For me, the only true test of friendship is if after a long hiatus it is resumable in a heartbeat. That no time passes for true friends, and yet, at the same time, this is a counter-intuitive phenomenon, as it resists the tidal pull of entropy. There is something sacramental in the friendship that exists outside of time.

I don't have many such friends (although infinitely more than I deserve), but I value each and every one of them.

Christian Friendship

But such friendships are heightened, I find, by common interests, common worldviews, common hopes and dreams, by a common faith and a common brotherhood in Christ. That these friendships are made sweeter to the taste when their heart centres around Christ and His riches: His truth, beauty, love. When they do not tear down but build up ... when they are iron sharpening iron.

I know that in my own marriage, a marriage that was founded in friendship, I feel like we are most One when we are building one another up and nurturing each other and encouraging one another in our Christian walk... when we push each other deeper into Orthodoxy and surround each other with love, light, peace, and beauty. But when I get self-involved or distracted, or - heaven help me - if I tear down my wife, voluntarily or involuntarily, the union is lost and the friendship is hollowed and shallowed.

Chrysostomite Friendship

One story that moved me the first time I read it concerned St. John Chrysostom and his friends. Not being allowed to become monks, they lived together in their city and encouraged each other and motivated one another to greater zeal, greater devotion. A classic case of iron sharpening iron.

I believe the Orthodox Church needs more Chrysostomite fellowships and friendships, the more so that we live in a godless, postChristian society. We fight a constant rearguard action against an insidious, overwhelming enemy; it is as if we were to struggle against the very air we breathe. The task seems nigh impossible. Here is where friends can make all the difference. By dictating the subjects we discuss, by creating an atmosphere that can be counter-culturally absorbed in Christ, friendships create bubbles of pure oxygen that resist the body-polluting and soul-staining taint of the world about us.

This is, perhaps, one of the greatest gifts of Protestantism to the world - the concept of the "small group", or soma, where small bodies of the faithful gather to talk, study ... to hone one another, to build one another in Christ, and not to destroy. The soma has been popularized by Protestants, but I want to reemphasize that it has a rich foundation in Orthodoxy. This is something we can do without becoming any less Orthodox.

- V.

Saturday, July 14, 2007


So we are going in for another episode of baby-watching on Tuesday.

The good doc would like to see an ultrasound of the wee one (gender still unknown), so it appears that we will be able to check out our squirmy stork delivery in utero once more before the big day (scheduled for anywhere from three to eight weeks from today).

Fingers crossed, and all that. Which leads me to wonder - is it Orthodox to cross one's fingers?

And we just might a) find out the gender this time, and b) get another fuzzy picture for our collection of fuzzy pictures. So this is exciting.

We have decided, however, not to share the baby's gender at this time, so apologies to that one person out there who can't sleep for not knowing. You'll have to obsess over something else.

- V.

On America & American Politics

As a non-American, I have no real right to speak on the internal problems of America, but because I am a neighbour to America and I am related to Americans, I am going to speak anyway.

The joys of blogging. Those who should be silent, aren't.

I remember following the primaries leading to the election in 2000, closely watching what was happening state-by-state both in 2000 and in 2004, and I remember two dominant impressions. 1) That Dubya was bad news (I wanted McCain), and 2) that no matter how bad the Republicans were, the Democrats were worse. Better the devil you know, etc.

[Sadly, I feel that G. W. has amply fulfilled my darkest forebodings, and the Democrats are doing their level best to fill me with even more horror than usual. Eight years of a Clinton in the Oval Office are, oh, about eight years too many.]

I approached American politics from the point of view of the civilized barbarian, comfortable in his wattle-and-daub mansion, anxiously watching the antics of the Roman Empire, waiting for the proverbial sword of Damocles to fall... knowing that Rome is the big bully on the block, and just hoping it doesn't notice me.

I never felt that America was a good place, and the patriotism of its citizens was, at best, the triumphant bloodlust of the Roman citizen bleating about how powerful and noble Rome was for conquering other nations. Why would I admire the U.S.? I think of brave Custer, the bloody and unnecessary Civil War, the horrific decimation of the Indian nations... I think of Hollywood and the culture of entertainment. Who could take pride in these?

But ...

Then I had a conversion moment.

Sure, I have met some nice Americans, and been in some lovely locales... but it wasn't until hearing Ron Paul speak on the Republic and the Constitution that I found myself infected with affection, admiration, even love for the States. It had never struck me before this that the United States of America was, at heart, a union of States, not a dictatorship. That the Constitution upholds the power of the State and minimizes (historically) the powers of the President. That the Republic was about the little guy, the farmer, the artisan, the craftsman, the average Joe. That the Republic was about setting up a system that enshrined local government and refuted autocratic structures like that of the monarchy the revolutionaries had fled. That the Republic was about an ideal, a hope... it was about freedom. Freedom from oppression, freedom from onerous taxation... freedom for which men were willing to die.

And like that, I realized that the Republic was beautiful - that what I hated was the Empire that the Republic was becoming, the Empire that the founding fathers sought to prevent.

So now I am back to watching politics. And the lineup seems a choice between the unknown, the bad, the worse, the terrible, and Armageddon... and Ron Paul. I hope he gets in, partly because the others represent all that I dislike about the road in which America has been travelling, partly because I can see little difference in their views, but mostly because Paul makes me want to be an American.

- V.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Excuses, excuses

It has been a while since I last entered the blogosphere, and really, what have I to offer by way of explanation? Just some excuses. I could cite a rapidly culminating pregnancy, a strenuous move, a spot of ill health and the ongoing search for a new job, but these are, in the final analysis, excuses.

And excuses don't make for good reading. (Hopefully the good reading will follow.)

My apologies to such readership as I may have had for sharing nothing but silence this past while.

- V.