Five Questions: Hannah Bowick

Welcome to! Tell us who you are. 

Hi! My name is Hannah Bowick, and I’m a Californian transplant living in the mid-South, frequently looking for avocados and acai bowls. I found Orthodoxy in a dim bookstore in California’s most unchurched county (Sonoma) while studying at America’s most liberal public university (UC Berkeley). I love food writing, education, writing and talking about teaching literature, and traveling the world. I am a people person, passionate about young’ins (especially young women) and a good cup of coffee with a friend. I love running (only when I really feel like it though), carbs, and linen dresses. My favorite place to visit was Paris, and the way to my heart is through a good meal.

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

I enjoy sharing the ‘aha’ moments. I love looking back at photos that weren’t perfectly curated but were from a time where I learned something about myself or the world or other people. Those are the posts I hesitate deleting Instagram over. I go down memory lane once in awhile and pause when I find my old porch in Guerneville, where I lived and did yoga and tried out veganism and dreadlocks and worked odd hours as a barista and dreamed of going to a big school. I don’t necessarily pause over the posts that had the perfect photo and the perfect caption. I like to be as authentic as possible.

I feel called to share more about my journey to Orthodoxy. I’ve never been particularly public about it, and I’ve thought more recently about sharing more of that journey. I also feel like I should be discussing more of the Orthodox texts I read. I’m not sure why I don’t – I guess that comes with the ‘authenticity’ conversation. If it wouldn’t come up in conversation with my friend on her couch, I’m not likely to post about it.

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

Social media is the best and worst of humanity. The other night we were watching that Netflix documentary, “The Social Dilemma,” about all of these ex-Silicon Valley tech heads. The first guy who spoke in the opening was saying, “I just feel like there’s some main source of all of these various bad consequences of technology and social media…” and my husband and I were shouting into our TV screen, “Sin!! It’s sin!!!” Ha!

The redemptive aspect is definitely relationship. I have made some wonderful friends, met my husband, and maintained some lovely relationships through the various outlets of social media. I can’t deny the beauty of it. I can keep in touch with my friends 2,000 miles away because of some of these apps. We’ve all gotten so busy that shooting twenty-five of our closest pals a photo of our dinner to tell them we tried a new recipe is exhausting. It’s easier to post it, get a couple of responses, and leave it there.

The difficult aspect is definitely the comparison / envy complex that comes from social media. This is why I try to keep my feed from being this perfect, airy, curated pillar of idealism. It’s not real, and I have to remind myself of that with others, too. I’ve started doing this thing where I follow people but mute their stories and posts. I only see farms, baking, and animals in knit goods on my feed now. I still follow people, but I have to manually check up on them. I still post, and people interact, but I don’t see their ‘stuff’ – it keeps things easier that way. I don’t think humans were designed to be exposed to so many lives and stories and narratives every single day. It’s been better that way.

What is your earliest, distinctly Orthodox memory?

I have a very clear memory of the first time I went to an Orthodox service: it was Pascha, and I had a friend who advised me to show up with my head covered but no other specifics. I wore my Doc Martens, black jeans, a flannel, and a beanie. To say I didn’t fit in with everyone wearing beautiful white and gold was an understatement.

One of the priests at the parish walked around at one point during the service saying ‘Christ is risen!’ in various languages. He looked right at me and said “Christos Anesti!” and, because I had no idea what was going on, I giggled at him.

Later at the feast, he came up to me and said, “In all my years as a priest, I’ve never been giggled at!” We are now great friends and he’s a spiritual father of mine, so to speak. His wife is my Godmother and we keep in touch regularly.

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

I hope I can live life in such a way that the way I documented it doesn’t even matter. I hope the people in my life, the ones I leave behind, are testimonies to how I lived.


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