Lea Povozhaev earned a PhD in Rhetoric and Composition from Kent State University in 2014 and an MFA in Creative Writing from The University of Akron in 2007. She spent a semester abroad in Russia studying at Nizhni Novgorod State University in 1999, where she was first introduced to Orthodox Christianity. Lea teaches writing part-time as she focuses on writing and presenting her current research on wholeness of body and soul. Two of her recent works reflect the culmination of her writing pursuits as a creative non-fiction writer who believes in merging reflection on one's personal life with current social events. She recently (June 3, 2016) had an interview with Ancient Faith Radio on her memoir: check it out! Lea aims to continue writing, researching, and presenting and invites inquiries from the audience to share her work ranging from academic (Medical Rhetoric—arguments in current health care and their implications for those who value the sanctity of life), creative and personal (focusing on family life and Orthodoxy). She lives in Ohio with her husband and their five children. Read more about Lea and her work here.
The term holistic means working with nature rather than against it. And faith is belief that calls one to act. When we cooperate with God, His mercy becomes more apparent to us. God’s mercy enables one to fathom the natural meaning of life: belonging to Jesus Christ. One’s will to accept God fosters more wholeness in a person’s life, and an individual becomes more well—body, mind, and soul. The process of becoming whole is a synergistic process of God’s constant mercy and one’s effort to engage it through prayerful living. Prayerful living is more than saying prayers. It is seeking that which fosters life and nurturing the body and soul. Sometimes this process includes healing from physical ailments.
God is above His creation. He made us, and as creatures we are dependent upon His mercy to live, to heal, and to thrive. It seems that in today’s climate of false equality, people mistakenly believe in a liberal paradigm instead of striving to realize what is true. Rather than concern with fair and equal, to be silent, still, and in humility and love draw near to God—Who is always far above His creatures—leads us towards more wholeness. Relationships with others can often seem “unfair,” and people might become frustrated. Many divorces are justified by claims that the other fails to be fair and carry his/her equal part. Unfortunately, our vision is skewed when one assumes that situations should be fair and equal.
Inequality can teach humility when experienced with the unwavering understanding that all life is equally worthy and loved by God. In the Body of Christ, the finger is not the leg, but each serves a function and is valuable. The Church is hierarchical and teaches the reality of the universe. A hungry lion eats a young elephant under the cloak of night. It isn’t fair, but the natural pattern of life fosters balance and ultimately protects the ecosystem of Life. In the context of religion, a democratic mentality is ruining the meaning of Christianity.
Father Stephen Freeman states, “Our outward forms of Christianity are morphing as quickly as the market can imagine them. Even the ‘New Atheist’ Sunday meetings differ little from many Christian gatherings. God Himself may not be necessary to the spirituality of our democracy. Where does God fit in a world of equals?” God is the head, and He grants even a “toenail” such as me a place and purpose, which, by the way, I may miss with the sour-puss preoccupation of wishing I were something else than I am.
We don’t deserve anything but should appreciate everything. Unfortunately, we live in a world of deception, a world that replaces orthodox perception with a false, lesser, unreal explanation of life. Liberalism can be understood as secularism, which is faith in a fallen world that should allow equality to each person. Christianity has never taught that life is fair. The lives of the Saints show countless pictures of unfair circumstances and martyrdom. For example, at the end of a hard life, St. Elizabeth the New was thrown down a mineshaft where she was heard singing hymns as she perished. After leaving her home and family, she married a duke in Russia. A number of difficulties unfolded in her life as she converted to Orthodoxy, endured the murder of her husband, and became a monastic. Through it all, St. Elizabeth the Grand Duchess embraced self-giving love. She cooperated with God, becoming more whole, even in death. By her holistic faith, God saved her soul, and she tended those dying alongside her when they, too, were unfairly murdered by the Bolsheviks during the Revolution. Remarkable holistic faith saves one’s soul and inspires faith in others because of one’s cooperation with God’s will, only possible in humility and love.
We do not know what will become of the story of our lives. The details are playing out as the days unfold. The objective at hand is to endure without the temptation of constant complaints that follow from hearts expecting fair and equal treatment and refusing holistic faith that calls us to suck it up and try to believe that God knows how He is using us. If God is the head, and I am a toenail, then I may accept my place as the one who shuffles along without all the answers. If I see others as parts to the Body that I will to function, then balance is important and self-sacrifice more likely.
Working with nature, and not against it, one aims to nurture life—one’s own wellness and the wellness of others—for the good of the universe whose balance requires it. My mother’s beautiful face has gone crooked with Bell’s Palsy. It has been more than a month now, and patience ebbs and flows. We will for her to look and feel “normal,” for the energy and vitality to return. On a mission to bring my mom holy oil, my small children and I traveled across town to venerate a miraculous myrrh-streaming icon. The Theotokos weeps heaven upon Christians throughout the world, miracles that clearly reveal the fine line between natural and supernatural worlds. Though we did our best, there were many people crammed into a small cathedral, and we left the service without an official blessing and without a vial of the healing oil.
I had nothing physical to give my mother, but the children and I prayed for her. It seemed that the effort we made in faith and love healed our hearts and granted us mercy and remembrance of God’s healing power that is always above and beyond us. The circumstance of suffering had once seemed unfair but then seemed a sort of gift to realize the majesty of our Lord. Mom’s crooked face became a reason to have faith in the Giver of Life and to cooperate in His will, trying in better moments to let go of my stubborn, selfish will. Holistic faith works with nature, which includes supernatural potential for healing. Holistic faith is blind and sees that God is above all that bows down below Him. Holistic faith is silent in a powerful crushing choir of love, streaming out loud and clear to shake the firmament of the heavens and create waves upon the oceans.
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