Greetings from the end of the semester at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts.
Last time we wrote, Daphne, Peter and I were settling in after our move here from Canada. Now we’ve been in New England for over three months.
My midterms went well, and with your prayers I’m on my way to a strong finish for the semester. My parish assignment— St George Orthodox Church in Norwood, MA— is treating us like family. I help with religious education, and preached my second homily this past Sunday. Classes were cancelled on Tuesday for a campus-wide celebration of St Nicholas Day. Peter, along with other children of students, especially enjoyed a visit from St Nicholas that afternoon.
We’re still working on Daphne’s immigration and on transferring her nursing license to the United States. We are very grateful for your prayers regarding these complicated, tedious and expensive processes. In the meantime, Daphne is auditing a class and participating actively in campus life. She has made our little apartment into a cozy and welcoming home. (Karibuni!) Peter especially enjoys his Friday morning music classes, playing with friends, and jumping and tumbling
There is, once again, too much to report. So let me tell you one encouraging thing that happened this semester, and one thing I learned in my classes:
One of the newly-enthroned indigenous Bishops in Kenya, His Grace NEOFITOS of Nyeri, visited campus this semester. His Grace is an alumnus of Holy Cross. Speaking with him affirmed for us, in powerful ways, the value of this education and formation towards missionary service. We do not know exactly where we will be sent after I finish my degree. But, wherever we are sent, we are working hard in these years to be as well-prepared as possible to go.
And one thing I learned:
Read the Psalms! One of my professors assigned us the Psalter, divided up the traditional way into manageable chunks called “stases.” There are a few such Psalters on the market. Reading one stasis per day is not very time-consuming, but gets you all the way through the Psalms within a few months. The depth and breadth of human experience is all there. Reading the whole thing helps to make sense of the parts: there is despair, frustration, anger (maybe rage), repentance, the revelation of God’s glory, exuberant praise, meditations on *how* to worship and pray, and in the 118th (119th) Psalm, a long poetic reflection on the “Law”— on the form of God’s relationship with his people, and the profound peace that comes from holding fast to that relationship.
Soon, we’ll be off to Florida for Christmas break. Tentatively, we plan to begin our trip south on Monday the 19th, making our way down Interstate 95 and arriving in Gainesville on the 23rd. We plan to spend the New Year’s weekend around Longwood/ Orlando, and the first week of the new year/ Theophany in Fort Myers. We’ll start the northward trip again on January 7th God willing, stopping in Gainesville for Sunday Liturgy and continuing up I-95 to arrive back in Massachusetts on the 11th.
We would love to see you. If we are on your route, get in touch!
Thank you for your prayers and gifts. I have some scholarships here, and some student loans, but it is our supporters through OCMC who provide the means crucial to our sustenance and my education. We are very grateful. If you would like to join this support team, we invite you to make a pledge in any amount— perhaps $35/ month. You can go to http://www.tinyurl.com/ocmchargrave and click on the red “Support” button. You can call 1-877-GO-FORTH and ask for the Finance Department. Or you can write a check to “Orthodox Christian Mission Center” with “Hargrave” in the memo line, and send it to: OCMC, 220 Mason Manatee Way, St Augustine, FL 32086 USA.
Towards the Nativity,
James, Daphne and Peter Hargrave