Five Questions: Erica Anne Chawla

Welcome to MyOrthodoxFamily.com! Tell us who you are. 

I’m Erica Anne Chawla. I have many names associated with myself: wife, mother of three, writer, homemaker, former high school English teacher, homeschooler, follower of the Orthodox church. But the only one that really matters is that I’m a child of God, blessed beyond measure. And the more I focus on that, the better all those other callings go.

What do you most enjoy sharing? What do you feel most called to share?

I enjoy sharing love. Real love. The kind that’s messy and hard and beautiful. The kind that requires a bit of grit. The kind that calls for a bit of sacrifice. The topics I’ve written about range from grief to cooking to bigotry to parenting. I think in America, in this little bubble of suburbia that I live in, it’s easy to forget that anything good in life comes at a cost. So much is handed to us. Maybe too much so. So I like, very much, to look past the fluff and to the heart of the matter.

The world of social media is complex. What do you see as difficult and as redemptive about sharing your journey in this way? 

I have to be really careful with social media. I find it can fill me with disillusionment and disgust and anger at astonishing speed. I find it to be a necessary evil though. And the redemptive moments for me are when people who have read my blog say, “Thank you. I needed that. I needed to have those words to make sense of that.” I also like when I’m told I need to do more of it. It gives me the push to read more and pray more and love more in encouraging posts. For me, that makes social media worth it.

What is your earliest, distinctly Orthodox memory? 

My first memory is technically not Orthodox. You see, my husband and I were Byzantine Catholic at first, yet the BC priest’s seminary formation had only Orthodox texts…so I didn’t know it at the time, but I’d been praying and chanting in Carpatho-Russian Orthodoxy for years. It was the end of summer, probably late September. My new fiance and I just had dinner with our priest at the rectory, fresh tomatoes from my garden, caprese. Afterwards, we walked across the yard to the church. The whole earth smelled so alive. The sent of harvest. It was twilight. And we entered with only candles. Beeswax from a Greek monastery two hours away. And we prayed compline together by candlelight. The smell of beeswax and incense. The sun slowly leaving us behind. The best way to say “à demain” world.

What do you hope will be the mark you leave on the world as you pass through it? 

That I loved the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, and all my mind and my neighbor like myself.

I’ve been pondering the last part of this majestic command from our Lord and Savior…”my neighbor like myself.”

I’ve been thinking about how if we don’t have compassion for ourselves we can’t give it to others. They are the neighbor. I am hungry for that sort of compassion: full of truth and love. It wasn’t given to me as a child. But I’m hungry to find it and give it to others.

I’m praying to be someone who hears the Word of God and keeps it. I pray I can acquire the fruits of the Holy Spirit. And I pray that the Lord will have mercy upon me a sinner and save me. And through that, I will leave an imprint beyond my comprehension. I’ll touch Eternity.

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