Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Year of Orthodoxy

About a year ago today, the four of us wandered into our local Antiochian Orthodox Church for the first time. How did this come to pass? I wish I had a coherent answer to that, but there's really not one. There wasn't one thing that brought us there together last March, nothing about it was planned (at least not by us). But there we were, Husband and I completely lost in the Liturgy for almost two hours, squirming boys sitting between us, overwhelmed and somehow deeply touched by all we saw and heard and (even, yes) smelled.

The overwhelming nature of Orthodoxy has been a major theme in my life this past year. It is, as I've said before, like drinking from a fire hose, especially when one has been used to small Dixie cups of water for one's entire life. It is an overpowering experience, to hear almost 2000 years of tradition, teaching and theology boiled down to a two hour Liturgy each week. Sometimes I think I could listen to those same words every week for the rest of my life and hear something new in them every time. At the same time, it is their repetition that gives me comfort and security, and makes the idea of facing the Orthodox Way of fasting and obedience much less scary and impossible.

As my conception of spiritual things changes slowly to become more Orthodox, many spiritual things come to make more sense to me than they ever have. The angle at which I looked at so many things has changed, and as that happened so many things seem to line up far better than ever before. That is not to say that there is less mystery in life than before. On the contrary, Orthodoxy brings more mystery to life, not less. But that, too, works in its own way; I'm not sure how much we're meant to understand in this life (or, at least, what I'm capable of understanding, at any rate). If faith is truly the evidence of things not seen, then "understanding" in the modern, Western sense of the word no longer seems to be the point of the entire exercise.

What I do understand, after a year of Orthodoxy, is that I want to follow this Way for the rest of my life. As poorly as I may do so, this is the path I want to take - and the one I pray all four of us will take together - for the rest of eternity.

"That we may complete the remaining time of our life in peace and repentance, let us ask of the Lord. ... Grant this, O Lord."

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