From Death to New Life

Tomorrow is Good Friday and I’m not going to church. I won’t partake in the procession around the church, I won’t kiss the shroud, I won’t travel to various churches throughout the day to venerate different shrouds and pray. I won’t participate in Jerusalem Matins, I won’t listen to any sermons, I won’t feel the peace I usually do on this holy day.

Where will I be, you ask? At the theatre. It’s interesting how theatre used to be my life. It was the focus of my degree, my passion, the thing that set me apart from my friends growing up. I was the crazy one who went to theatre school, who believed that I would make my living by becoming different people onstage.

My, how things have changed. No longer do I strive to become different people. Instead, I simply want to be myself, to find my way in the world by being me. And one of the things I’m learning about myself is how much I rely on my faith, my church. Oh, sure, my faith could be a lot stronger and more consistent, but my need for church, for taking that time each week to just gather with like-minded people and pray, has become so necessary that I’m really feeling the grief of not being able to participate in tomorrow’s Good Friday services.

I know it’s totally my fault. I completely dropped the ball on getting the time off because I simply forgot that since we have shows running at the theatre tomorrow, of course we’re open. Honestly, when I got the schedule and realized my blunder, I cried. And then I called my mom, who wasn’t home, so then proceeded to chat with my brother. He laughed at me and said this wasn’t such a big deal. And maybe it isn’t in the grand scheme of things, but it still hurts my heart to know that I can’t be where I want to be tomorrow because of my commitment to the theatre, my commitment to something that used to envelop my body and soul.

Isn’t it sad when we realize that something we had previously dedicated our lives to and fought for time and time again suddenly isn’t as important to us as we thought? I know it may sound silly, but it almost feels like a death, like a part of me has vanished. And yet, this same death helps me move into the next stage of my life, closing a chapter and starting fresh, so to speak. The challenge is accepting that this change is okay, that it’s okay not to be in love with theatre anymore. I will always appreciate everything that I have learned about life through my studies in theatre and no doubt  that knowledge will inform whatever I choose to do next. But I have begun to realize that theatre is not my focus anymore. Faith is.

Well, looks like I’m still the crazy one, but this time I’m the crazy one who has decided to go to church school. God bless my friends.

Have a blessed Good Friday and wonderful Easter! Christ is (almost) risen! Христос (майже) Воскрес!

Joyanne <3

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Making Love in More Ways Than One

No, this post is not going to include any explicit content.

And now for all of you still with me, I have made a discovery: I want someone to make love to me. Now before you all point your fingers to my first sentence, allow me to clarify. Last Friday I decided only one thing would mellow me out after a long week at work: a Fred Astaire marathon. Okay, so I only watched two movies, but I tell you, watching that man dance will definitely put a smile on anyone’s face (check out this scene from Easter Parade, one of the films I watched). I seriously fall in love with him every time I watch one of his movies (note to any potential suitors out there).

My discovery, however, did not come from Freddy-boy himself. Nope. Instead I found myself intrigued by a certain line co-star and famous dance partner Ginger Rogers‘ character, Dale Tremont, says in Top Hat. See, Jerry Travers (Fred Astaire), an American dancer, falls for Dale and ends up hounding her, intriguing her, and finally inspiring her to fall for him too. Of course, this happens while dancing. In a gazebo. In the rain (I’m going to be super girly and add, “Sigh.”). Alas, Dale mixes up Jerry with his married producer and is appalled that he would flirt with her in such a way. No, flirt is not how she puts it. “How could he have made love to me?” is what she actually says.

Now, considering this film was made in the 1930s, I’m pretty sure she wasn’t talking about sex. No, Dale was using the phrase “making love” to mean a sincere act of intention, of communicating interest and, later down the line, love. And from that moment I began thinking (surprise, surprise). Nowadays, we only use the term “making love” to mean sex. Don’t get me wrong; I do believe that sex should definitely be categorized as “making love,” but that’s not the only way to show someone you love them. “Making love” to someone can also mean a kiss, holding hands, cuddling, sharing a meal, having a conversation, throwing snowballs at each other, arm wrestling, etc, etc, etc. By having the term “making love” only apply to sex, we’ve limited ourselves to only one way of showing love, when, in reality, love is so much more versatile and flexible.

So, am I against sex? No, definitely not. But I am against narrowing our definition of “making love” to only mean sex. I mean, only using sex to show love has got to get boring after a while, doesn’t it? I don’t know about you, but when I “make love,” I want to keep the excitement and spark alive as long as possible. Starting with a dance. Maybe some snowballs.

Peace,

Joyanne :D

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Going Where No Ukrainian Catholic Has Gone Before

I’m really learning to appreciate having a roommate who shares the same faith as I because I can come home and say, “I just spent a half hour sitting in front of a picture of Our Lady of Guatalupe and reciting the Jesus prayer.” And that’s normal. The fact that we can then embark on a discussion concerning church services and programming is also cathartic.

I just came home from Adoramus at St. Joseph’s Basilica; the schola was singing (if you don’t remember what ‘schola’ means, check out my last entry). I’d never been to an Adoramus before, so I really didn’t know what to expect. Seems it’s a sort of reconciliation service where people are invited to go to confession while readings, hymns (us), and a lot of silence ensue. The service was quite nice and I think I would consider going once when I’m not expected to sing.

The thing that surprised me, however, had nothing to do with the service, but with the congregation itself: it was made up of mostly young people ie. the average age seemed to be about 25! I was shocked, shocked, I say! Never had I seen so many young people gathered at church just to go to church. If that many young people were at one of our churches, there’s some other kind of incentive (well, I suppose there were free snacks after this service…but still).

I happened to mention my surprise at the service’s  demographic to one of my priest friends at the Basilica and he replied, “I find it’s best to get back to the simple, core stuff. It’s just prayer and confession.”

Naturally this got me thinking. Does the Ukrainian Catholic Church have anything similar? The answer came almost as soon as I asked my roommate the question: the Reconciliation service we do at Unity every 2-3 years. Ask anyone who’s attended what one of the most memorable moments of Unity was and I’ll bet you they’d say the Reconcilation service. Why? Because it’s a simple way to get back to one of the core beliefs of Catholicism: Jesus always forgives. Seriously, once you go through that service, I challenge you not to feel at least a little better for sharing whatever’s been weighing on your mind. Or maybe you just want to chat with a priest or sister and ask some questions; that’s cool too. I’ve definitely done both.

My point is, why is something that is so powerful not available more often? Why do we allow ourselves to fall back on the usual Sunday liturgies with no more understanding than the previous week? Perhaps (and this is something my roommate and I concluded), perhaps if we had different services available people would become curious and attend. Maybe they’d ask questions. Maybe they’d then come to the Sunday liturgy with a thirst to know more. Maybe they’d actually stay within the church because then they’d know what it’s about instead of just thinking about faith as following a bunch of rules to ‘keep our noses clean.’

I think that’s the end of my thought train.

Good night! Sleep tight!

Joyanne :D

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8 Real Reasons You Should Love Clowns

It’s been a while since I wrote something “philosophical” on here (funny, since that’s the whole purpose of this blog), but after reading Buzzfeed’s recent article “11 Reasons You Should Love Clowns,” I felt my fingers itching to contribute my two cents.

I was in Vegas in November 2011 with a bunch of my girlfriends I’d known since kindergarten. Half of us decided to go and watch Mystere by Cirque du Solei. As much as all the acrobatics are excellent to watch, I was mesmerized by one of the featured clowns in that show, the ‘Big Baby ‘ (the late Francois Dupuis). Everything he was doing was just SO SIMPLE that I couldn’t stop laughing (ie. he’d stand on the stage and just look at the audience and laugh). That’s it! I was in awe of how he’d mastered simplicity, something that is so hard to do in the world of performance. Unfortunately, my friends did not think he was anything special and when I tried to explain what being a clown truly means, I got the ever-unsatisfying brush-off answer: “Well, that’s just weird.”

As someone who went through a clown and mask workshop a couple years ago, I am very sensitive when people start talking about clowns because what many people think of when the word ‘clown’ comes to mind usually has nothing to do with the true nature of clowning. Articles like the one posted on Buzzfeed don’t help. True, the reasons the article lists for loving clowns are things I would consider to be true (we are great with kids, we don’t shy away from daring clothing, we do have a range of facial expressions), but these reasons for the most part are superficial and don’t get to the true heart of a clown (not to mention most of the clowns pictured in the article are TERRIFYING! No wonder people are afraid of clowns!).

What is the true heart of a clown? Let me try to explain this by citing my own clown, Dot (sidebar: I speak of Dot as a separate person to myself, though we are inevitably intertwined as we share the same body; this is something all of us who went through clown workshops do, so get over it). Dot is an incredible flirt and will give away her (ie. my) phone number to willing strangers, she loves pink and green (but mostly pink), and she’s obsessed with stripes (how ironic). She doesn’t smoke and will tell you directly that smoking is bad for you if you happen to light up in front of her. She can’t juggle very well, but when she does manage to catch all the balls, regardless of how little time she’s spent juggling, she is super excited. And if she doesn’t catch all the balls… well, she pretends like she does.

Dot also has feelings, very strong feelings that can change in the blink of an eye, like any human being. The difference between an adult and a clown? A clown actually shows how s/he is feeling at any given time. Happy? Jumping off the walls. Sad? Crying her/his eyes out. Afraid? Cowering in the corner. Clowns do what we as adults are afraid to do: they embrace and project their vulnerability to the world.

It’s because of this vulnerability that it’s hard for me when people say they don’t like clowns because being in clown does not mean just putting on a wacky collection of clothing and red nose, and getting all up in people’s faces while acting silly; that can scare people and is the reason why good clowns learn to be super observant and cautious when approaching people. Being in clown means taking one’s inner-most self and putting it out in the world to be inevitably stomped on. In a way, a clown is very much like a child, open to new experiences and seeing their entire world as one great, big adventure. Dot actually reminds me of me when I was about 7 years old, that time in my life when I was old enough to have opinions but hadn’t developed the inhibitions to conceal how I was feeling, that time when I wasn’t afraid to play, to climb trees, to ride my bike, to tell boys that I liked them. Being in clown means ultimately being brave and owning your story. And not only owning it, but sharing it as well.

So, according to Buzzfeed, there are 11 reasons why you should love clowns. To sum up, I’m going to give you 8 more:

1. They take the simple in life and make it profound
2. They can make you laugh
3. They find wonder in everything
4. They turn failure into success
5. They portray all extents of the human experience in a way that gives the audience some release and catharsis
6. They will be your best friend if you let them
7. They are brave
8. They are human

Finis.
Joyanne :D

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Going Out With A Bang: A New Year’s Post

I was looking through one of my journals yesterday and noticed that two years ago yesterday I’d started this blog. Two years! I feel like I should be singing, “Happy Birthday, dear Philosophy Without The Degree… Happy Birthday to youuuuuuu!!!” But I will spare you and instead focus on writing this post since I realized almost at the same time that I haven’t written here in quite a while. True, I have been focusing on my travel blog/moving back to Edmonton/starting work again/Christmas… but I do feel a bit bad for neglecting my work here for so long.
Right, so New Years. I tell you, this year has just flown by! And at the same time, it feels like I’m exactly where I started. I suppose in a way I am. I’m working the same job I had before I left for Dublin, and I’m living in the same house also. I find myself having to constantly bring forward the memories of experiences I had in Dublin to my consciousness, as well as actually keep in touch with all the fabulous people I met while on my travels so I can keep sane. Finding myself in the same place for right now, though, doesn’t scare me as much as it should, though. I think because I had an amazing, challenging year, one full of discovery and growth, I am okay to be still for a little bit. But only a little bit. I can actually feel myself itching a teeny bit for some movement, but that’ll come soon enough since I’ve decided I’m moving to the city! It’s going to be hard, I know, since I’m basically broke, but I am ready for the challenge. I’m almost positive I’m going back to school in the fall, so that’s another upcoming change in the near future. You can actually read all about that decision (and really, my whole year) on my travel blog, if you’re at all curious.
And what am I hoping for? Well, good health for my family, friends, and myself, and more experiences to help me grow into a better person. I look back at my life in Dublin and I see a woman who’s brave and ready to try new things. I hope to be that woman here too, to share what I’ve learned and the gifts I’ve received from the good Lord. Also, lots of walks and picnics; I miss St. Stephen’s Green so much! Oh, and some grand live music in a pub that will become my regular, though O’Neill’s will never be forgotten. Some art to keep my creative edge sharpened, whether that be theatre, music, or writing. And a chance to do some good for others, somehow. That’s what I hope 2014 will bring.
And on that note, I put 2013 to rest and face 2014, metaphorical sword by my side, ready to conquer any challenges that may come my way. I hope you do the same.
May God bless you with a magnificent 2014!
Joyanne :D

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Losing Sanctuary

The other day I was walking along Dominick Street right after choir practice when all of a sudden I noticed a church on my left-hand side. Now, I’ve walked this route dozens of times, but for some reason I’d never noticed this church before. As I walked past it I noticed the door was closed. Right away I was reminded of the scene in the Disney film, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, where Quasimodo is holding the gypsy, Esmeralda, over his head at the top of the famous cathedral yelling, “Sanctuary! Sanctuary! Sanctuary!”

When did churches start keeping their doors closed? From what I understand, the purpose of a church is to have a peaceful, safe place to pray and seek solace for whatever may be happening in one’s life. At all times. But from what I’ve seen, with churches here and back home, more often than not a church’s doors are closed like any other building at the ‘end of the day.’

I can only assume that this happens for security reasons, making sure no one comes in and vandalizes the sanctuary or steals from the building or uses it as a place to smoke up. But what that tells me is that the church is more concerned about the material possessions within than being a safe haven for those that need it most, many of whom I’d say probably have issues with vandalism or stealing or addiction. Did not Jesus especially talk about helping the poor and less fortunate, the most ‘lowly’ of sinners? He asks that we open our hearts to these people, but we also have to physically open our church doors as well. Only then will the church truly be a sanctuary.

That is all.

God bless,

Joyanne :D

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TED and The Bible: One and the Same?

 

I am fascinated by TED Talks. The people presenting them are able to take complex ideas (their life’s work in some cases) and condense them into a fifteen minute schpiel, many times using even less time than that. Because TED is such an interesting presentation format, I’ve subscribed to their channel on YouTube and have taken to watching a couple TED Talks almost every day. This week it seems I focused mostly on health and well-being (the result, no doubt, of eating lots of cookies and crisps these past few days…): making stress your friend, longevity, how where you live affects your health. All the talks had great tips for how to rewire your thinking, eating, consciousness in order to live a healthier and better life, and I highly recommend watching the above videos to judge for yourself.

It wasn’t until I was sitting in church this morning, however, that I realized the talks I’d listened to this week really fit in with what today’s Gospel reading teaches. Today, the Evangelist, Luke, tells how Jesus visits two sisters, Martha and Mary. While Martha takes to preparing food and cleaning house, Mary simply sits at Jesus’ feet and listens to His words. Martha becomes quite frustrated and demands Jesus to tell Mary to help her. Jesus surprises Martha, however, replying with, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; 42 there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:38-42, NRSV Catholic Edition, biblegateway.com).

The way our priest explained this passage in his homily is that we are constantly in motion, and the busier we get, the ‘less time’ we have to focus on God. This message is exactly the same as a lot of what I hear when I’m watching TED Talks, especially the one above on longevity. Perhaps Dan Buettner wasn’t specifically talking about focusing on God, but the message of taking a break and a breath is one and the same. In the Bible, taking a break means to focus on making yourself quiet so you can hear what God is saying; with TED, taking a break is crucial to your health because if you’re always on the go, you’re not able to recuperate as easily.

The other thing that struck me while I was listening to Father’s homily is Mary’s role in the Scripture: she focuses on simply being with and listening to Jesus. In his talk on longevity, Buettner speaks about the importance of community in living well into your 90s and even your 100s. Both the Bible and TED, then, recognize how crucial it is to be with people and truly connect with them, not always focusing on the outside.

So, what am I trying to say? Maybe these ideas we’re seeing in TED aren’t as new as we think they are. Maybe those ideas have already been thought up and put into a collection of stories and analogies: the Bible. So, maybe next time you have a problem you should check inside there to find your answer. It doesn’t matter if you’re religious or not because the ideas are the same as our more contemporary ones, like the ones you find in TED.

One thing is for sure: a lot of shit goes down in the Bible, so at least you might have fun combing through those parts.

Have a wonderful Canadian Thanksgiving!

Joyanne :D

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