All posts by Katya Gordon

About Katya Gordon

Katya Goodenough Gordon lives in Two Harbors, Minnesota, just a block from the north shore of Lake Superior. She has lived in this picturesque setting since 2008 when she and her family completed their first yearlong voyage living aboard a sailboat. Aside from home, marriage, and family, she is an author and reporter, a radio show host, a climate activist, and an active member of the United Church of Two Harbors. Born and bred in Bryn Athyn, PA, she is increasingly aware of and grateful for the ideas instilled in her childhood from Swedenborg's Writings, and always looking for ways to spread these life-giving truths in her community and beyond.

Random Thoughts About Living in a Church Community

I live in a largely Christian world, and spend a lot of my life with other non-New Church Christians. We are active members of the United Church of Christ, a Methodist-Presbyterian mix that formed 50+ years ago when neither church could stand on its own (if you’re wondering what kind of doctrine comes from such a mix of conflicting dogmas, the answer is that we are the Christians who are neither Baptist, Lutheran, or Catholic, and we don’t sweat the small stuff.). 

Over the years Mark and I have become deeply connected to other members, especially older couples who have lived clean and meaningful lives without fanfare, who consistently serve as deacons, cooks, trustees, board members, choir members, tech support, and anything else that is needed, all in their volunteer church life. Churches are a wonderful avenue to community, even aside from any religiosity–a fact that is often missed in the mainstream media in its lament over the problems of loneliness and broken relationships and disease. Our tech guy, Jose, who films countless services and other events at the church, sometimes as a volunteer, recently announced that he will retire this summer. In his announcement he gruffly stated, “I don’t really consider myself a religious person” with a rueful laugh, adding, “The church family means a lot to me.” I suspect he will discover that he still wants to come to church, just because.  

What is it about coming to church every 7th day that is so powerful? It’s such an easy commandment to keep, compared to some of the others! Just a habit, do-able for those of us lucky enough to not be in 24-hour service shifts. While we have been through many phases with our church, I’m finding that once you put in enough time, the familiarity and comfort, coming from a thousand hymns and prayers chanted together and a thousand conversations over coffee fellowship builds, imperceptibly, until suddenly a child whom you watched grow up or an old person you watched grow old is confiding in you as a trusted friend.

Continue reading Random Thoughts About Living in a Church Community

The Doors of Our Minds

Mark and I read recently in Divine Providence about how the door to heaven opens and closes in our minds, and if the door is closed to heaven, you just can’t see what is true. I find this a very helpful way of thinking. I like to envision doors opening, and also closing, below me, into hell. If I can shut my eyes and decisively shut the door under me, it quiets the vindictive, revengeful voices telling me what a bad card I was dealt or how hopeless it all is or whatever thought is plaguing or paralyzing me. 

We all have our blind spots, our closed doors. For me, my 50s have been great for opening doors I didn’t know existed.  Consciously deciding to be curious has helped. Wanting to be an angel someday has helped. Watching what happens when large swaths of people believe their causes are right, impenetrable, and that other voices should be squashed, has also helped. 

In a related way, I have recently felt doors opening while listening to podcasts. Podcasts are a great way to get out of our echo chambers (groups of people who think exactly the way we do). You get to hear real people talking in a public yet frank way to people whom they trust about the issues that matter to them. Curiosity has led me to many thoughtful conversations that have subtly changed my perspective. One of these is the “Family Life Today” podcast, which is produced by a delightfully frank, open, die-hard Christian couple who are not afraid to discuss the topics where most people in their tribe daren’t tread. Doubting God. Blended families. Teenagers leaving the path. Introverts: does everyone have to be an evangelist? Perimenopause! One of my favorites. They interview authors frequently, and it was Sherri Lynn who wrote a book entitled “I want to punch you in the face but I love Jesus: the Ultimate PMS Companion.”  She was a riot! 

Continue reading The Doors of Our Minds

Sports – Blessing or Curse?

This past winter our family went to a college hockey game. It was a blast. Lots of noise, crazy cheering, some unsportsmanlike booing, and a lot of social chatter. And, we got to watch twelve hockey players perform their always (to me) stunning combination of grace, speed, synergy, and tussle. One of the players’ mothers is a friend of mine, so we even had a team to root for.

I’ve loved sports all my life. In fact when Covid first hit in March 2020, it did not register with me until I heard that the University of Minnesota had canceled its entire spring sports season. My jaw dropped and I actually felt shaky.  For the first time I imagined the immensity of a problem that would generate this level of response. But even aside from that: how could we possibly live without sports? Our neighbor Jessie, who became a pride of the town placing first as a national discus thrower, never got to throw the disc her crowning senior year.

Just like in theater, where we happily “suspend our disbelief”  that the world being acted out in front of us is real, in sports we temporarily and eagerly engage ourselves in the belief that it DOES matter who wins. And how thrilling that is for those of us with that competitive gene. 

We know there are competitions in the spiritual world, and sometimes I think what I see here begins to mirror those events. With daughters who run and ski, we have become fixtures at cross country, nordic ski, and track meets. It’s amazing to watch runners mutually improve as they pit themselves against each other in practice, rising and rising to new heights of strength and endurance as they prepare to face the opponents from other teams. Around here, when two runners sprint for the finish line and cross close together they never check the scoreboard first. It’s the parents who try to figure out who won; the athletes simply embrace. 

Continue reading Sports – Blessing or Curse?

Providence, Peace, and Cooking

Flowing, or stuck? In the stream of Providence

When my brother Danny died the summer after his senior year, the next senior class dedicated the Academy yearbook to him, inserting this quote on the dedication page:  “When the Lord is with anyone He leads him, and provides that all things that happen, whether sad or joyful, befall him for good. This is Divine Providence.” (Arcana Coelestia 6303

At different times in life I have found this to be an astonishing statement. Still more jaw-dropping to me are the references to the “stream” of Providence, such as this one: “Insofar as anyone is in the stream of Providence, so far he is in a state of peace.”  (Arcana Coelestia 8478

Can this really be true? Could it be that all our states of life other than peace come from our resistance to this stream? The smallest moments come to mind:  Irritation when my husband smokes up the kitchen from heating the pan too hot. Annoyance when an event is postponed, forcing us to adjust, or a phone call interrupts my work. To the biggest ones: Fear when a wildfire threatens nearby or a child gets seriously ill. Sadness when a loved one seems bent on a path of destruction. Anger when a mishandled medical situation leads to death. Could it be that these feelings and thoughts, especially when acted out, are simply ways that we have of turning upstream, or even just leaning sideways a bit so that we feel the pressure of the current? How many days or years have we spent clinging to a rock, insisting that we stay in the same place, exhausting and painful as it is to be resisting the current?

Continue reading Providence, Peace, and Cooking