Monday, October 29, 2012

Trick or Treat!

Today I took Anna for a stroll in our neighborhood.  As she loves walking wherever we go these days, I pushed the stroller (in case of a stroller emergency) and she meandered alongside, stopping to point at interesting sites or meow at passing cats.  Not only is her toddler gait quite cute, but to make matters even more cute, 'tis the season for snowsuits already.  Anna ambles along in her puffy cosmonaut (astronaut) costume (snowsuit,) attracting the positive attention of everybody we pass.

Not only did we receive countless compliments on our walking skills, oohs and aahs from many a passer-by, and the occasional question as to how old we are now, we ended up with quite a bit of loot at the end of our 45 minute circuit:  2 apples, 3 pieces of candy, and 1 juice box.  It's better than Halloween here!

I am daily reminded of the pleasure of living in a such a child-friendly culture.  Children are truly a joy and delight to Russians; they are honored, treasured, and daily celebrated by all who surround them.  As most families only have one child, there seems to be a unique esteem for the childhood experience, the hopes of a family continuing on through this one being.  People could not help but give Anna some kind of treat as she waddled by, or stopped to wave or talk to them.  I was so humbled and blessed by their generosity, saying repeatedly, "this is not necessary, she's ok."  After the first couple encounters, though, I stopped resisting, (unbeknownst to her, Anna does love to share with Mommy.)  I said thank you, answered their questions about Anna, and allowed Anna to do her thing.  What fun we had, and what a haul!  

Days like today remind me why I'm so glad to share this experience with Anna.  She makes life so much more mutually enjoyable, not only for us, but for our neighbors and comrades here in Moscow.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Jesus in Pampers

If you're looking for a place to get rid of unwanted pocket change, generally outside an Orthodox church is one of the best and easiest places to do just that.  There are consistent almspersons near our regular church, and over the past couple of years, we've gotten to know some of them.  One woman usually stops us and asks specifically for a larger donation on behalf of her mother.  She suffered a stroke a few years ago, and now must wear pampers (the word for diapers here in Russia - a result of branding.)  Pampers are expensive, particularly for the elderly on a minimal pension.  This Sunday, her situation struck me in a new way.

The gospel reading today came from Matthew, chapter 25:  
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.  Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’  Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?  And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?  And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’  And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
A particularly moving piece of Scripture, and incredibly poignant this morning.  The phrase briefly passed through my mind, "Lord, when did I see you in pampers, asking for help at the register?"  The abstract and the concrete immediately met in an incredibly vivid picture; the Scriptures sprang to life right in front of my eyes.  At this point, I betray my very protestant roots, but who could ask for better immediate application following the sermon?

The Priest, who humbly allows the Scripture to speak for itself most often, reminded us today that we can't do everything, but when we can do something, we should.  Those are good words by which to live.