“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” So says Martin Buber. I don’t normally agree with the man, but this time I feel like he’s describing the journey my wife and I’ve set out on. It feels like before we started this path, we knew where it would take us. The more steps we take down it, however, the less I feel like that. Not that anything exotic or strange has happened, we’ve followed the steps recommended by Fr Anthony, beginning to spend more time with our Orthodox parish community by attending vespers and the Divine Liturgies, and, on Wednesday we were to attend our first Orthodoxy 101 class, but it was cancelled since Fr Anthony was ill. We are experiencing the trials and physical demands entailed in Orthodox worship and struggling to meet them. In that respect, I think we both really wish we had come East much earlier in life; being in you’re mid-60s doesn’t make this any easier. We do our best.
We have also met with Fr Anthony, our priest, one on one, and were able to ask him some of the more important questions we had, which he answered satisfactorily, to say the least. This, in itself, is a bit strange for us; I think over the last month or so, I’ve spent more time talking to him than to all the Catholic priests I’ve met over the last 18 years or so. Still, all this represents the first steps on the journey.
That said, it seems like there’s a long road ahead. My impressions of Orthodoxy are that it’s a very different matter, becoming Orthodox, than what we went through on our way into the Catholic Church. In that process, we attended classes for about 8 or 9 months, learned some key things, did our first reconciliations and communion, received Confirmation, and that was that, we were on our own. That’s a simplification, but essentially the truth. I already sense that, when and if we are admitted to the Orthodox communion, we won’t be on our own again. It’s quite a culture shock.
I can also say I think for a person to become Orthodox requires more than anything else conversion; a true, deep, heartfelt, conversion, taken as a profound change of heart. In other words, it isn’t something external, a matter of satisfying certain requirements; it’s a matter of being a different person at the end than you were in the beginning. In that sense, it’s an intimidating prospect; a journey to a secret destination of which I am only vaguely aware.
That’s the present. Looking ahead for this blog, I can offer a warning. I’m fairly sure that over the next year or so, I’ll probably offer much nonsense concerning Orthodoxy and my growing understanding and conversion. I’m not a theologian, or even a deeply spiritual writer to begin with, and trying to write about something so different to anything I’ve experienced will likely compound whatever issues arise from those failings. I ask you to bear with me. I also ask, if I write something particularly stupid or, even more, just plain wrong, feel free to correct me and set me on the right path. I’d appreciate any help you can give.