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.
Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth Who are everywhere and fills all things,
Treasury of blessings and Giver of Life,
Come and abide in us, cleanse us from every impurity, and save our souls, O Good One.
We are on our annual trip UP, dwelling in a cabin on the Les Cheneaux Islands. The natural world sings God: swooshing wings of a large bird dipping down to Lake Huron, the large jawbone of a deer, fat fox slipping through high grass—Majesty is Present, and the heart can perceive that an echo of heaven is here and now on the fallen earth.
The natural world respects the balance of power that sustains life. Trees stretch their limbs to birds whose morning song pierces the sky with a sound of glory. Blood rushes through life, and bodies give back to the universe as God created each to do. I walk, wearing a baby whose breath adds to the chorus of morning birds.
One evening, we eat meatloaf with family.
“Do you know God?” my four year old asks an uncle.
This family, though not our blood, has welcomed us as relatives for the past two decades. We have become a mixed group of different backgrounds and world views. In this place, surrounded by wilderness that is home to various species, I have met the Comforter, maybe especially in seasons of strife. Here, I seek love within family dynamics that are complex. In the years of coming UP, I have experienced a merging of very different cultures and the beauty of the challenge that acceptance and love entail.
“He’s everywhere,” Uncle’s partner replies.
His eyes and mine meet.
The family welcomed my husband when he had just come from Russia as a child with dreams of hockey. Twenty-five years later, and with our five children, we continue to be fed by the Comforter at the host family’s table. In a world where there is an echo of heaven, there can sometimes also be a scream of earthly cares. In this world, we often invent “truth,” following a way of life that is less than the Giver of Life wills to allow by His flow of life-giving goodness. Yet, He comes, abides with us, and saves our souls, if we will for Him as He is.
…The Spirit of Truth…
“And fills all things,” I add in response to my daughter’s inquiry: Do you know God?
Embracing the Gifts of Life
I feel great joy, a rush like blood. This trip, I am blanketed by a nursing baby and energized by renewed physical health. I run in the morning and commune with a world full to bursting. I wash my face with dew heavy on evergreens, and it is possible to “lay aside earthly cares” for a time. It is a refreshing break away from a culture that is laced by opinions at every corner and drawn tight be a fury of dissension. I often long for harmony and unity with other people, and it becomes a marvelous lesson to observe such perfect togetherness in the natural world.
Many today are preoccupied and become distanced from God. Youth are indoctrinated to believe one is self-sufficient—from universities, faith groups, friends and family. Prayer and soul-searching seems not to be a part of the modern way of life. Youth are buzzed by an endless energy that distracts the soul. From “Christianities” that aim to entertain instead of come together in communal prayer to God and technologies that connect us to instant and constant social disconnection, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that marriages are too distracted to survive and family units fail to navigate safe harbors of Peace.
We strive after money and good things instead of seeking Truth and God. I think the worst of our current cultural climate is the lie that we have a body and mind, and that it is not one. This leads to the false conviction that whatever each one wants is good, and each is free to do as s/he pleases in the body. There is not a soul-consequence, so it seems, but I feel a darkening of spiritual awareness in this context. People do not believe that there is one true God Who alone has the Power to “system reset” each of us for things far greater than we may alone endeavor.
Spirit of Truth and Giver of Life, come, abide. He will, but only if we are open to Who He is. He manifests in life when one wills. The soul lives in Christ when, in repentance, we seek God beyond the limitations of ourselves. Caged in our self-justifications it is impossible to acquire the Spirit of Truth Who alone gives life and cleanses us from every impurity.
Sexual confusion, promiscuity, and drugs seem a loud outcry born from deep dissatisfaction with life. Though this hell consumes our culture, God is not done with us yet. He is trying to get each one’s attention, no matter where we stand. When we choose to realize that He is, to acknowledge that one’s whole self is accountable to the Law of Love—which is something we learn to accept and abide in, rather than make up on our own terms—then God saves us. Love alone covers a multitude of sins. Looking at the natural world that functions together in love that is cooperative and honest, that nurtures and balances by each being what it is created to be—I feel truth shine. The Spirit of Truth and Giver of Life sets us free, for this is God.
My four year old’s innocent question and the honest response given at a table set with love illustrates that spiritual stirring continues in this world among us all, even though we are a broken and disobedient bunch. People are not perfect, but response that comes from the heart as breath draws the natural song of Truth is in our midst. We come to understand a little more; we become a little more Comforted, a little more responsive to the Spirit of Truth Who is everywhere and fills all things.
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