Prudence True

The Art of Wisdom

through Ancient Words

A Path to Your Heart:


("Best of Prudence" Month)


  A Random Sense of Holiness 

10 October 2011

I'm feeling silent, so here is a repeat from:

2 August 2010

Dear Souls -

      If you pay attention, the simplest interaction with a stranger may make a lasting impression. Today I awoke thinking of a woman I met several years ago in Costa Rica. Even at the time I understood this young woman's impression on me was cemented in my mind, though my friends with me noticed

nothing unusual about her at all. But for me, there was a random sense of holiness about the woman.

     The young woman, about eighteen years old, sat just beyond the edge of a popular surfing beach selling bracelets she made by hand. Even from a distance she struck me as interesting. Maybe it was the way she hunched over her work, or maybe it was something else altogether. But when I approached her I was struck right away by . . . a sense of Holy. It surprised me, and not just a little. I looked around to see if anyone else noticed, but they didn't. Though I suspect there were angels around her, they were not obvious, in an ordinary way.

     A detailed description of her isn't necessary. She looked like a three dimensional version of the Theotokos (Holy Virgin Mary). She didn't look like an icon, or a Renaissance painting; she was the human image of a living Theotokos. And, though I don’t by nature recite Scripture, my ears buzzed with:

     "For I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and your gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me." (Mt 25: 35, 36)

       I knew I was buying bracelets. My friends wandered off, and I stood with the young woman and talked. We chose the colors of bracelets she would weave for my family, which they still wear on their wrists today. As we spoke, I noticed her leg covered with long, deep, life-threatening scars.

       She said her father's dog attacked and almost killed her. Her leg was severely injured in the attack, and she felt lucky not to have lost it. I knew her story was true, the evidence was the scars. She told me she couldn't return to her father's home, so she left Brazil and traveled with her boyfriend. She was homeless.

       I wanted to help, but not offend her. So I bought the bracelets and gave her a generous tip, feeling in my heart it still wasn't enough. She was hungry, hurt, and homeless. I struggled with the idea of giving her much more, but knew she expected much less.

       In the end, I received more from her than I gave;

       I felt a random sense of holiness which lingers today.





  A Closed Door Theology


14 October 2011 - Silence is still sticking in my soul. This follows the one above and these two are a couple of my favorites.

5 August 2010

Dear Souls -

     If you experience a random sense of holiness, then you're bound to notice the opposite. The opposite of holy jumps out from behind corners, or stares you boldly in the face. This is someplace I choose not to dwell under any circumstances (no fancy theology here, that is another blog elsewhere). Some sneak a peek at the opposite of holy, I don't.

     When those who choose to peek at the opposite of holy infringe on my closed door theology, I'm aggravated. If this happens at church, then I crawl out of my skin. Closed door theology requires a tightly sealed door, maybe even with towels stuffed in the cracks to keep out the stench. If you choose to take a quick peek, then a rush of bad air will smack you in the face.

      The opposite of holy isn't obvious to everyone I suppose. But it's hard for me to understand when to me it looks like a flag waving over someone's head. I'm not brilliant, and I've made countless mistakes when I open the door to someone with a flag waving over their head. Close door theology takes practice, and so far I've had a lifetime to notice when I mess up. When a flag is waving over the head of someone who sits in the center of a circle, it's awkward. As you know, the opposite of holy is a master of trickery and deceit. Closed door theology works well, but at times you must avoid the center of the circle.

      Closed door theology takes discipline, but it's worth the effort invested. The sting of your errors will help you keep the door sealed shut to the opposite of holy. And the more tightly sealed the door, the more you notice the stench when malodorous air leaks into your space. Of course there are situations which place you right in front of the opposite of holy, and for me darting off is the option of choice. The Master of Trickery most of the time uses tools of deception which don't require much effort. If your door is sealed shut, you're not worth the chase.

      Focusing on the opposite of holy is a theology of it's own, though I've never understood the desire to see in the dark. If you linger in the dark, then run for the light; it's the safe zone. Theology of the dark is unnecessary and will devour you bit by bit. Seal the door shut, and don't stand in the doorway speculating about the opposite of holy. It will suck you into a vortex under the pretense of something else. Remember the opposite of holy is the Master of Trickery and Deception; you can't win once you open the door unless you run for the Light.

      Closed door theology is not complex, and with practice you know right away when the door requires a barricade. Watching others dancing in the doorway is not a pretty sight, but if you warn them they tend not to listen. The opposite of holy didn't become the Master of Trickery and Deceit because of a lack of skill.

      Carry these simple tools with you at all times:

       Steer Clear

       Close the Door

       No Peeking

       Run for the Light    

       But, here lies a path towards wisdom.

        Yours, Prudence


A Mature Christian


16 October 2011 - And more from the "Best of Prudence" ...

9 December 2010

Dear Souls -

          Maybe it is not clear to some what I mean by a mature Orthodox Christian. First, let me say it matters little to me if you are an Orthodox Christian or not. What matters is if you are a mature Christian. And I would be a fool to say the only mature Christians are Orthodox . . . that is untrue. But when I meet you, I know right away if you are a mature Christian or not. It emanates from your soul. . . even from across the internet. A pure soul is distinct.

         There are pure souls around us . . . I see them here and there. But for the most part there are lots of masqueraders, and the difference is obvious. The biggest and loudest Christians are often the masqueraders, it seems to me. The mature Christian has a quiet soul that emanates with peace. You cannot have a big loud peaceful soul, it's not possible. Being a monastic or a priest does not guarantee the maturity of your soul. If you believe it does, then you are a fool. Being an everyday ordinary Christian does not mean you cannot have a pure soul. If you don't believe this, then refer to the Bible (insert your proper Scripture here).

        There are some pure souls I see at church on Sunday . . . they may be elderly souls. After spending nearly a century within the walls of the Church, purity seeps into your soul unless your heart is made of steel. Some of the purest souls I see are also the shortest people at church. Maybe they are even carried in their mother's arms. But these tiny pure souls are not mature Christians.

        As Orthodox Christians we are all seeking maturity, though some started at birth and some began maturing much later in life. Just because you began your journey at birth is no guarantee. There are plenty of tarnished souls born into the Orthodox faith. And just because you found the Orthodox faith after years spent in the Western depths of Christianity, does not guarantee your maturity.

        The mature Christian soul navigates life intuitively with deep respect for others. Perhaps they are well educated, perhaps not. Perhaps they fast, perhaps not. Perhaps they are sweepers when they cross themselves, perhaps not. But they are kind, humble, and their heart emanates with peace. Maybe it's difficult for you to identify the mature Christian from a distance. But I guarantee you will like them right away when you meet them . . . because if you pause for a moment you will feel deep peace and wisdom flowing from their soul.


     Just my simple thoughts . . .
                 Yours, Prudence
                                                          Big Z


17 October 2011 -  How could this not be one of my favorites? I can watch "The Cutest Groms" over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over... 

The Cutest Groms
The Cutest Groms
The Cutest Groms
And who hasn't fallen on their face with a big smack?

22 February 2011

Dear Souls -

         This morning I awoke thinking of a scene from a favorite movie of mine, Surf's Up. In the surfing culture elders, Surf Legends (or Legends), have a clear role in mentoring younger surfers. In the lineup (where surfers sit and wait for waves) showing a lack of respect for a Legend, earns you a nasty glare and a miserable surf session. Local breaks are ruled by the Legends who surf there . . . I've seen surfers leave a break (surf spot) because, "Too many Legends are in the water today." These Legends command respect with their intuitive knowledge of all things Surf. In the lineup they manage to see waves before a visible line appears on the horizon, and magically they're positioned on the peak of all perfect waves. When a Legend is in the lineup . . . I catch their leftovers (if I'm lucky).

          The Groms (young surfers) gather around the Legends thirsting for their surfing wisdom. In the lineup when a Legend speaks, everyone listens . . . except the Kooks. (A Kook is someone who shows no regard for the established etiquette of a surf break.) Through years of surfing in all conditions and gathering knowledge of all things Surf (waves, tides, reefs, boards, ding repair, etc.), Legends earn the respect of everyone at the local break and beyond. In the surf culture, respect for a Legend spreads beyond their local spot and across the ocean to distant breaks. Some Legends leave a lasting mark on the surf industry through surfboard shaping or big wave riding. Other times they leave their mark by the generation of younger surfers they influence who rise through the ranks of the surf world. But the traditions of surfing do not pass from generation to generation without the Legends.

           Some breaks exist where Legends do not dominate . . . and these are ruled by Punks. No one surfs these breaks unless they're prepared to deal with punks. At breaks without Legends there is not a prevailing surf etiquette and when you enter the water, you enter a dangerous zone. If you exit the water without bumps, bruises, or lacerations you're grateful. Surfers at these breaks drop in on each other, paddle around each other, and show no respect for anyone. The lineup is chaos and an exercise in ego strength; surfing these spots is unpleasant and leaves you without the sense of peace you entered the water seeking. Without Legends, a surf break lacks the full traditions of surfing.

                                                       Link here:  Big Z

                                               Humility and Taking on Tank
The Cutest Groms



Becoming Hawaiian

19 October 2011 - I'm not always the nicest person, and I often view the world through a distorted lens. Another "Best of Prudence"... 

25 May 2010

Dear Souls -

     For years I've searched for the one true culture, and I now decided to become Hawaiian. A few of my close friends became Hawaiian five years ago and have spent time introducing me to the Hawaiian culture. They loaned me a number of books on ancient Hawaiian traditions, and I devoured them and soon searched out books on a variety of Hawaiian topics. Now, I am well versed on the subject of Hawaii, with an emphasis on ancient Hawaiian traditions. I believe in all my heart the Hawaiian culture is the truest existing ancient American culture. So, I've packed my bags and moved to Hawaii to immerse myself in the ancient culture.

     Every Sunday I attend the local Hawaiian gathering in the small town center. Families drive from all over the island to attend this traditional Hawaiian Luau. When I first attended this Luau with my close friends I felt rather uncomfortable with their traditions. But now, I've adjusted and in fact know the true way of ancient Hawaiian Luaus. The Hawaiians themselves sometimes don't know the true traditions of their ancient culture, which rather surprises me. Their culture is such a gem, I'm not sure they see the gift they've had right here in front of them their whole lives.

     The new Hawaiian Luau director just arrived from Florida where he spent most of his life, but he knows Hawaii is the truest existing ancient American culture. He and his wife are committed Hawaiians and their energy is perfect, since many of the Hawaiian families who have attended this Luau for years seem burned out. Although I've heard some of the elders complain, I know this director does everything by the book. It is important to follow all the ancient traditions exactly right, and to take any shortcuts would be incorrect.

     I'm disappointed when I see Hawaiian parents who are not diligent with teaching their children the traditional culture, as I've learned from my reading. They seem not to understand the importance of teaching young children the ancient Hawaiian traditions. My own children will learn the ancient traditions if I have to pound them into their head, and we read and practice the traditions each day despite our already hectic schedule. How else will my children gain an understanding of this true ancient culture?

    I see the elders shaking their heads sometimes when I attend the Luau and introduce the traditions lost over the years, but it's clear these traditions were practiced in the earliest Luaus. Maybe they talk amongst themselves, or maybe not. I did overhear one elder Hawaiian saying he'd been attending the Luau for eighty years and never seen some of the traditions we now practice. But the new energy infusing the Luau is strong, and I'm sure the elders will appreciate our dedication to the correct ancient Hawaiian traditions. 

    There is a strong Hawaiian internet community with numerous blogs by recent Hawaiian converts, which I read. There is a wealth of knowledge on a range of subjects, and I appreciate connecting with others to share my experience as I transition from my former culture. We are all committed Hawaiians, and want to share the true ancient Hawaiian traditions with others through all types of media. The Hawaiians have not publicized their ancient culture effectively over the last several centuries, so we're working to update the publicity campaign for the state. There is a plan to start two mission Luaus on the island, which will attract more residents from outside Hawaii. It's unclear whether any of the Hawaiian elders will attend the mission, since their families have gone to the other Luau on the island for generations. But, with our campaign we are sure to attract many others from out of state, and our mission Luau will not be led by the disapproving elders. Our Luau will be the true truest ancient existing American culture.

     But I do sometimes wonder, and I hear a quiet little voice in the back of my mind which asks if I'm sure this is the truest ancient existing American culture. There is a confidence I lack, which the elders have - I see it on their face and in their eyes. Where and how do the elder Hawaiians gain this faith in the ancient Hawaiian traditions? Perhaps my approach to absorbing the Hawaiian traditions requires a slight tweaking. The elders have something deep in their hearts which my friends and I don't have, which isn't available on the internet, or in the stacks of books on my shelves.

     The wisdom, knowledge, and experience

      of a lifetime.

    But, here lies a path towards wisdom.

        Yours, Prudence




21 October 2011 -  I suppose if this one stings, then it must contain an element of truth. But for me it's part of the "Best of Prudence" ...

14 May 2011

Dear Souls -

          There exists an emerging subculture within the Orthodox Church: Momodoxy. Mothers have raised children within the tradition of the Orthodox faith for around 2000 years; it's an ancient faith. The distinguishing feature of Momodoxy is fresh perspective. Within Orthodoxy there is a deep component of tradition . . . or the handing on of the Faith. Mothers within a home hand on their faith to their children, who hand it on to their children, and this is all done with a heart full of love. The fuller the heart is with love . . . the stronger the tradition sticks within the heart of the children.

            Momodoxy draws on traditions which lie beyond those of the Orthodox faith. It's the repackaging of an age old tradition into a present day commodity, and it lacks the wisdom of generations of mothers. In itself Momodoxy is not harmful, but it is misleading. Without the time tested, enduring tradition of raising children within the Church, Momodoxy is a single snapshot of Orthodox child-rearing.

             If you are unsure whether or not what you see is Momodoxy, you will know it by its fruits. With a heart of love, generations of Orthodox mothers have raised children who are now here circulating in Orthodox parishes across the country with their own children and grandchildren. There exists a wealth of Orthodox parenting knowledge perfused by generations of true Orthodox experience, and it's not Momodoxy. Love within the heart of one, moves the hearts of others all around . . . you will know the love of a mother not by her words, but by her fruit.

photo by Misha Maslennikov




  Guard your heart


22 October 2011 - And without my palace guards at their post, there is chaos in my heart...

2 October 2010

Dear Souls -

         This morning I was thinking of advice I received from a wise soul this past winter.

          "Guard your heart."

           Maybe as an Abbess of a monastery this is standard advice you offer all souls. But even as she spoke to me in her quiet sincere voice, I knew I would ponder this message for a long time. And I confess, my immediate mental image was Buckingham Palace guards surrounding my own cardiac muscle.

            The picture still lingers in my mind.

Guard Your Heart
             If I were an avid spiritual reader I could spend hours and hours and hours reading about my palace guards; reading is not guarding, and my palace guards do not live on the pages of a book. My devoted palace guards work twenty-four hour shifts, seven days per week. When they leave for a short vacation, it is obvious; the palace walls start to weaken and there is chaos inside.

        The work of palace guards involves a system of prompt and efficient communication. As an intrusive element approaches, the guards alert those inside the palace. The palace goes on high alert if an intrusion poses a particular danger, but for routine dangers the experienced guards operate independently. The biggest challenge for the guards is when a threat approaches from an unexpected source; a danger in disguise is the most difficult to discern. If the palace guards are suspicious, then they use various tools to assist them in distinguishing a true nature. Even if something looks alright, the guards may know it is not. Listen to the guards, or suffer the consequences.

      "Guard your heart."

      Simple thoughts from my simple soul.
             Yours, Prudence


 Grandmother's Theology


23 October 2011 - From my grandmother's heart to yours...

15 January 2011

Dear Souls -

        If you're seeking a fancy theological description of the path to your heart, please stop reading right away. I can recommend places on the web where you can fill your mind with complicated theology, and I can also recommend sites where you can read granola recipes (though I'm passionate about my own homemade granola). This path to your heart I'm writing about did not come from years of reading Orthodox Christian books (I enjoyed all ten I've read, though I don't suggest spending two decades reading The Orthodox Church, as I did). The path to your heart I'm speaking of we will call Grandmother's Theology, although I bet this name is taken . . . and I'm not a grandmother.

        All I know, I've learned from ancestors who did not learn what they know from books. A certain priest tells me some Christians believe I'm not a Christian at all, and he says they're not the ones reading what I've written. Although I'm grateful some Christians ignore me, I cannot understand their misconception. I've been on this Christian path my entire life, beginning with baptism a few months after my birth, and continuing every day throughout the years and years and years . . . (no single aha! moment for me as an Orthodox Christian).

        For this journey to your heart, you must find a means of eliminating the inflated cells in your body, which obscure the eyes of your soul. If you live in a monastery, then you must follow a specific path; if you live in a house on a street with a mailbox in front and a car in the driveway, then you must follow a path suited to your neighborhood . . . a more practical path for you and me. This is the path of Grandmother's Theology, and it's all I know. I could read ten more fancy theology books, but they're too complicated for my simple mind. Besides in my mind resides the roaring voice of my ancestors keeping diligent watch over my heart.

       The essential tool of Grandmother's Theology is a scowl. An "old country" grandmother has a look which blasts you with a loud: Watch Yourself! It's the equivalent of a whack over the head with an overstuffed handbag, and it hurts. The scowl (heavy handbag whack) stops you fast and puts you in your place in record time. It's a toxic medicine with excruciating side effects. Over the years it creeps into your soul and you feel the whack even when grandmother's handbag is empty. This watchful presence is a form of Christian chemotherapy, and it's an effective 2000 year old method for eliminating the over-inflated cells surrounding your heart.

Keeping Watch



     Dear Wolf . . . 


25 October 2011 -  I'm having fun replaying my favorites. Can I do this every month?

28 December 2010

Dear Souls -

         Here is a letter I've written to a wolf dressed as a sheep. I will place it in the mail once I figure out the exact postage required:

         Dear Wolf:

             I saw you standing there, but at first glance I did not recognise you in the sheep's costume. The others never noticed you were a wolf, since your costume fits perfectly. You even spoke with perfect sheep dialect. The years of practice shows, and I'm impressed by your skilled deception.

            Wolf, I know right now your sheep's clothes suit you fine, but I see the day coming when your disguise is revealed. The others will be shocked by what they did not see right before their eyes. And as always, some will insist they knew you were a wolf all along. Hiding behind your sheep's clothes will not last forever . . . it never does.

             My suggestion to you, Wolf, is you discard the disguise right away. There is still time before the others discover your secret. You can change into the clothes of an ordinary soul, and although they will not feel the same as your sheep's costume, they will soften and mold to your skin over time. I'm sorry Wolf, but I do not see the point in your wearing a sheep's costume. Are you unaware of the costume concealing your soul?

             If you need help changing out of your sheep's costume, it's available to you from a variety of sources. The Church offers help for wounded souls, though do not expect immediate results. But the first step begins with stripping off the disguise and revealing yourself. I suggest you do this before disaster strikes.

            Please give my kind regards to the others . . .

            Your friend,




On the Inside


29 October 2011 -  The Kingdom of God lies within...

4 February 2011

Dear Souls -

        The clothes we dress in each morning are obvious to everyone we see throughout the day, but the garments which dress our soul are invisible to others. Our invisible garments may be seen by others, though in a subtle way.

         Some people are attuned to these invisible soul garments, and some have no idea they exist at all. Those who feel their way through life attuned to these subtle cues notice when the garments surrounding a soul are sloppily assembled. There is a presence people have when they live by these cues, and in some cultures an awareness of these cues is fostered. In the American culture this awareness is not a predominant factor in interpersonal interactions.

          I believe those who live surrounded by nature often develop this sensitivity. Spending time attuned to the beauty outside blankets the soul with a peaceful garment. This inner peace is difficult (not impossible) to replicate driving in afternoon traffic through a smoggy city. When someone with tight fitting garments around their soul stumbles into a room of those garbed with peaceful blankets, this difference between garments is magnified.


          Let me give you an example. On the outskirts of a Hawaiian island the people live a small life surrounded by magnificent natural beauty. It's almost impossible to live there each day without opening your eyes and seeing the glory of God's creation. It's also almost impossible to live there each day without opening your eyes and seeing your own struggles reflected back toward your heart. On a small island where everyone knows everyone and their business, you cannot hide from yourself or anyone else. Every morning you greet God's beautiful earth, and staring right back at you is your sloppily assembled soul.

         When you stumble into town there isn't any place to hide, since the familiar faces of your fellow island dwellers reflect back in their eyes your sloppily assembled soul. If you are fortunate, the busload of tourists from the mainland just arrived. In this large group are outsiders who have no idea just how obvious their sloppily assembled garments are to the residents on the island. As the tourists rush around seeing the "sights" and purchasing shave ice, the locals peer into their eyes and see the sloppy garments around their souls staring clearly back at them. Though the tourists may wear shorts and flip flops on the outside, the difference is in their souls on the inside.

          Without a mirror you cannot see the garments surrounding your soul. And if you haven't seen your soul in a mirror, then the garments on the soul of your neighbor go unnoticed.



  Watch over yourself . . .


30 October 2011 - A year later, and it's still true...

6 October 2010

Dear Souls -

        The truth is... I have nothing to say.

        I'm not a priest.

        I haven't dug deep into the depths of Christianity.

        I'm just me.

        All I know is what I've learned over a lifetime spent surrounded by ordinary Christians, who have spent their lifetime surrounded by other ordinary Christians. We all happen to be Orthodox Christians.

        You can find plenty to read elsewhere about the details of Christianity, and it all goes over my head in a heartbeat.

         A single heartbeat.

         Fancy theology, isn't the stuff of everyday living for ordinary Christians.

         A homeless person begging at the side of the road, is real life.

         Hunger is real.

         Sickness is real.

         Helping others is real.                          

          I'm real.

          And I have nothing to say.

          Yours, Prudence