by Jackie Mullen Niederberger

(Winter, 1996)

   Welcome to a new column called, Reflections, which will focus on situations from the lives of everyday, down-to-earth, real life people, perhaps a person you come in contact with everyday. Some situations will be poignant, tragic, courageous, some will illustrate love, hate, pride, humility, but they will all deal with life=s private moments. Perhaps, somehow, as we share these vignettes, we will be drawn closer together as one family in the Orthodox faith.



   Janice was alone in the rambling, clapboard Victorian house, except for her two small boys asleep upstairs. Her hand ran over the rose colored, oyster plastered walls of the room which were once so friendly and secure, but now seemed cold and uninviting. The fire burning on the hearth of the brick fireplace sent warm tendrils into the room, but they never reached the icy depths of Janice=s being. Her insides seemed to be floating helplessly on an iceberg in the midst of a foaming sea. The churning made her feel sick, numb and afraid.

   What were they to do without a father, a husband, the provider of their home. How could she manage alone? What would people say? What would she tell her children? Would they understand? Of course not, Janice thought. If I don=t understand, why would the children understand why their father chose to leave them.

   She ran her hand over the polished wood of an old cherry table and let her fingers touch the petals of some early spring daffodils which had been placed in a vase just that afternoon. Somehow her touch brought an awareness of the Creator of that flower, His goodness, His gentleness, His providence, His love, and His great mercy. The churning sea quieted within her, the iceberg began its slow thaw; there was a hint of warmth glowing somewhere just beyond the ice. A quietness came over her with the awareness that the Lord was her husband, that He was a father to the fatherless, that He would provide, that He would surely make a way where there seemed to be no way. Janice turned off the table lamp and climbed the stairs to her bedroom.

REFLECT ON:  St. Mark the Ascetic=s words, AIf you wish to remember God unceasingly, do not reject as undeserved what happens to you, but patiently accept it as your due. For patient acceptance of whatever happens kindles the remembrance of God, whereas refusal to accept weakens the spiritual purpose of the heart and so makes it forgetful.@


Jackie Niederberger is a member of St. John Chrysostom Mission, Clermont, NJ.


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