Friday, February 13, 2009

What I Have Found, from the Vantage-Point of a Decade

Today marks the tenth anniversary of my entrance into the Orthodox Church.


It has been an interesting journey, one with falls and detours, but a journey with a destination. A journey with many friends, that great choir of witnesses who pray with us and for us. A journey that is never alone, but always in the midst of relationship. A journey of great richness.

I remember being told that the Church was a temporary fad, and that I would last five years on account of my stubbornness. There was a part of me that feared that this was true.

It is difficult to convey what I have found instead. [Pray forgive me if I am inarticulate when attempting to describe the ineffable.] Once I compared belief systems, totting up contrasts and similitudes. Once I sampled everything like a hummingbird sips at nectar. Once I felt the fear that comes from the attempt of man to hew from Scripture the right theology, the right teaching. Once I did not know myself.

And now?

The Church is the Bride of Christ. She has a mind, a heart; she has been lifted up into the heavenlies and stands orant before the throne of God. She is richness; she is the pleroma for which I hungered without knowing my hunger. She has overwhelmed me with beauty and grace. She has given me theology that can be understood by a child, simple, elegant, all its disciplines interwoven and seamless, and yet it is a theology that can be plumbed for a lifetime without reaching the end of its mysteries. She has given me sacrament - she has rebuked my intellectualization with their earthiness and physicality and overwhelmed me with the grace they bestow. Similarly with the sacramentals, like icons and relics. She has given me liturgy. She has given me the Saints: the Mother of God, my patron saint, my other friends, and the countless others whom I have yet to meet. And the Bride of Christ has given me … me – for I am more fully myself as I am freed from my slavery to my passions, my bondage to sin, and restored from my godless half-self shadow and given life, definition, illumination in union with Christ.

And why is this? Simply because she is the Bride of Christ and she leads me to Him Who is the author and finisher of my faith. Though I am blessed by Creation and tutored by the Law, my salvation started at Christ’s death on the cross, His harrowing of Hell, His resurrection from the tomb, and His ascent to the Father’s right hand. But He has yet to finish it, and he is finishing it, and because of my [continued] baptism with Him through His Passion and Joy, it is already finished.

Because the Church is and has been under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Our God is a God of maximums, and He will use every means and every consolation to teach us, nurture us, and bring us into full union with Him.

I am guided into the Church, guided by the Church, and comforted in my fallen humanity by the gifts He has given her.

And by the Grace of God, one day my journey in the Church will get me to my destination.

- V.

4 comments:

elizabeth said...

many years V!!!! i think it will be 5 years for me this summer, DV. prayers!

s-p said...

Beautifully said...its my 10th year also. Thanks and many years!s

les said...

"And the Bride of Christ has given me … me – for I am more fully myself as I am freed from my slavery to my passions, my bondage to sin, and restored from my godless half-self shadow and given life, definition, illumination in union with Christ."

Amen. The more we become like our Master, the more we become truly human, and as you say, truly ourselves.

V and E said...

SP:

Turns out that this weekend also marks the 11th anniversary of Father Stephen's entrance into Orthodoxy.

He has written an excellent post on that event at this address:
http://fatherstephen.wordpress.com/2009/02/12/turning-points/

All:

Thank you for your kind words.

- V.