Reflections on the Orthodox faith and life in this crazy 21st century world by an Orthodox priest and a few of his friends.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
A Few Thoughts After One Year
Like many others in Orthodoxy, the return of Holy Week and Pascha brings the anniversary of our entrance into the Church. I refer, of course, to my family. It was last year that our journey TO Orthodoxy was completed and our larger journey IN Orthodoxy began. I won't go back over the long journey (at least it seemed long to me) to become Orthodox, but rather want to look over the past year and what a change it has made in our lives.
Before last year, my children went to Church because we took them. I suppose in some ways, that is still the case, but I don't ever recall being told to "hurry up or we will be late" before we became Orthodox. My oldest son, Joey, serves as an acolyte during most services that we are able to attend. Being late means he can't serve. So he always wants to make sure we get there on time. On the few occasions that we have arrived and he has not been able to serve (because there were already enough acolytes for the day), the look of hurt in his eyes fills me with mixed emotions. Like any parent, I hate it when my children hurt. But I am also overjoyed that my 9 year old son has a real avenue of service that he can find joy in providing. My prayer is that he is able to harness that devotion and live a life of service in the Church. Yesterday and today were both very special to me. At the Lazarus Saturday Liturgy, he was able to lead the procession (only two acolytes were there) during the Great Entrance. Showing my lack of Christian development, I felt immense pride in my son. Today, he was excited because he finally got to wear "another color." Because of his age and size, most of the non-gold sticharion are too large for him. But he finally grew enough to wear the purple one. In a sense, he feels that he is "growing up" in his role. He is.
My daughter, Becky, sings in the choir with my wife, Debbie and me. It almost feels like our experience in the choir is a family affair. We are all able to talk about the songs, sing them together and share an invaluable experience that helps to bond us even closer as a family. I know that in a real sense, my daughter (as well as Debbie and I) is learning more about service, worship and the wonderfulness of our God every time she sings the hymns. The words are being poured into her, just as she sings them out. I feel blessed.
Of course, Debbie and I are getting the same benefit from the Choir, as we are able to share what meager talents we have in singing (OK, Debbie has quite a bit of that talent. I get by.). But in one short year, we have gone from wandering to finding a community within the community in the choir. We get to know the wonderful folks that we stand next to each time we gather together. We learn to work together, to compensate for one another (or be compensated for - that is my forte). We learn to love one another and appreciate one another.
Then there is Tommy. I know I recounted last year of how he would walk through the house "censing" with a toy light saber. He doesn't do that so much anymore, but just yesterday, he couldn't wait to show me his classroom in Sunday School. It was just after the liturgy for Lazarus Saturday. I went in and commented on his drawings that are displayed, assuming he was looking for validation. But I was humbled by what he really wanted to show me. He took me over to one wall, where several icons were located. He said, "this is where we pray." His pictures were fine and I am sure he liked me telling him how good they were. But the thing in that room that really touched him was the place of prayer. Smart little fellow.
So after one year, as I reflect on what we have done and how we have grown, I realize that sure, we are not as far along as we should be, but we are further along than we were. I realize that I have made missteps and bad decisions in some cases, but I am headed in the right direction. None of us is what we should be, but by God's grace and the prayers of the Theotokos and the Saints, we on the right road to get there.