Here’s a link from the old days in the Western Rite. An article I wrote entitled “Some Advice to Enquirers” which found its way to a Western Rite Orthodox magazine based in St. Petroc’s Monastery in New Zealand.
Ain’t the WWW grand?
It’s around about my birthday but I don’t feel as old as I thought this would be when I was a kid. If that makes sense.
Regardless, I wish I knew what I know now with an 18 year old body but its not the nature of things. Wisdom comes with an older body. I guess its God’s way of balancing things out.
So much has changed and I don’t think the world is anything like I imagined it would be when I reached my middle 40’s. I was, frankly, hoping for something better, maybe something that looked a lot more like the Jetson’s but its not working out that way. Technology changes, people don’t, and I’m a person just like everyone else.
And some things remain. I still have music running in, around, and through me. Its been that way since I was a kid. I’m still very curious about things and perfer to know a little about a lot rather than much about just one thing. I look in the mirror and see just about the same person I’ve always seen even though I’ve noticed that my face has changed. I still like Jesus and trust that he hasn’t grown tired of me.
There’s a part of me, as well, that still thinks I haven’t quite found my purpose and calling yet, that one thing that I was destined to be. I’ve done a lot of things, some well, but that sense of being in the right place in the right time eludes me. I get frustrated by that sometimes but it could just as well mean that I’m still a work in progress with things to do or maybe just that somehwere deep inside I know I’m a traveler and part of that is never quite feeling at home until heaven.
These days I find myself caught between things. Part of me regrets how fast time has been moving, all the wonderful things that are yet to be experienced, all the good things that are, and how much I want to have them all. Another part of me counts down the days until I can rest. Right now I’m leaning towards the former but some times I see the benefit of the latter. Perhaps I’m moving towards that place where so many old folks are, a place somewhere between earth and heaven and fearing neither. That would be alright.
But tonight is a baseball night, one of my passions, and then tomorrow St. Elias calls again with a morning tour for some Lutheran ladies interested in Orthodoxy, Vespers, Matins, Divine Liturgy, Parish Council, and then home again.
On second thought, that rest is looking better all the time.
I’ve been pondering these troubled times.
And for those who’ve read other parts of this blog you already know that I think humans have a unique capacity for insanity and too often the animals are our moral superiors. I still believe that. There is a primal chaos afoot, sin, as the Scripture identifies it, and it’s got a hold on people high and low with a passion.
But equally true is the grandeur of Christ that shines in all of this.
Sometimes I think the depth of depravity, in the world and myself, is even in itself a witness by contrast to the the matchlessness, the purity, the completeness of Christ. In causal times that can be blurred by the convenience and the freedom from want but when feet are placed in the fire a kind of clarity ensues. Because in times of desperation the comparisons are well defined and stark. And this is such a time when ideologies and the people who idolize them are competing with weapons capable of ending planetary life and ruling the world, or whatever is left of it, as the prize.
Perhaps we Christians need to be threatened with militant Islam and secularism and whatever else is out there on the horizon so we can cut through the fog and come to know, again, what precious things have been given to us and how much is at stake if they are allowed to go away. It’s been too easy for us for too long and we’ve grown flabby around the waist, cold in the heart, and forgetful in the soul. Threatened with the loss of all the benefits that have come to us through Christ perhaps we need now to come to know them, and their Source, again before it is too late.
I still like to get packages in the mail, have since I was a kid.
And an expected package arrived today, a mandolin, not the fanciest, but a nice one and good for beginners with a place in my office already set up for it and a case arriving tomorrow.
But it was broken, a piece of the bridge had come loose in transit and left a half dollar size tear in the sunburst finish marring it beyond repair. The folks at the store tell me they can send one out as soon as the other comes back, by ground, to Kansas City. It looks like the middle of next week anyway. I’m disappointed.
It’s not the damage, those things happen, but the loss of time that matters. The mandolin was to be a new adventure, a portable instrument with a lonely soul that I could take on my travels. I had ideas about what we could do together and where we could go and plans to sit on the bluffs outside Taylors Falls and watch the water and play whatever I could just for the trees.
Music has been a kind of sanity for me these past months. I play it constantly on XM while I drive and more often than not I can be found upstairs late at night practicing this instrument or that, my own songs mostly, with no one to listen except the open window. When my prayers go dry the music becomes my prayer. It’s a passion with me and had it not been unthinkable when I was younger I could have seen myself trying to make a life of it.
Regardless the mandolin will have to wait. I’ll get the case Fed Ex tomorrow and perhaps I’ll leave it open and waiting, a kind of symbolic thing I suppose, for the time when the mandolin and the music arrive to fill it. And that’s okay because I’ve already been playing it in my heart.
August 14th has come and past and it has been a year since the Church in a fit of what I call madness decided to make a Priest of me.
More often than not I have wondered why I am a Priest. More than a few times I have felt like letting go of this terrible, holy, joyous burden. In truth I was happier as a Deacon, content to keep candles trim, order supplies, handle censers, and stay in the background. I’ve been up front before, in the lights. It not what it is cracked up to be. Not by a long shot. And I still dislike people kissing my hand even though I know its not about me.
I think I am a fairly odd choice for a Priest. I can think of dozens who are smarter, better versed in liturgics, holier, and more suited for this work than I am. I often feel out of my league, over my head, and hanging on for the ride. I can’t imagine ever getting used to all of this, like it would be something normal or routine. I can’t also imagine myself as the Priest in charge of some successful million dollar Parish because I’m too rough around the edges and a sucker for stray cats and stray churches.
All I know is that people need Jesus. The world is absolutely nuts and the only sanity, love, truth, peace, hope, health, and salvation is found in him. Period. My path to all of that is messy as hell but I have some idea of my need and I can think of nothing worse than crawling through this bizarre life chasing after meaningless things only to discover that it’s a loss and emptiness that could last forever. That bothers me. But being a Priest allows me to do something about it.
So it’s one day at a time, now 366 and counting…
The way the world is has stripped all pretense, politics, religion, science. philosophy, art, and literature from me because there is no ultimate hope in any of it. But it has made Christ, all that he is, all that he teaches, all that he asks for, and all that he calls us to envision, more real in thier absence.
I feel more like a stranger than ever before but closer to home then I ever imagined.
One day a daughter of Abraham
will meet another of the same
in some quiet place, away from the noise of life.
And it may be in passing that they catch each other’s eye
or perhaps just sitting together waiting for a bus.
And they will talk.
Probably pleasantries at first,
the weather or how the garden is doing,
and then perhaps of children, husbands,
family, and home.
And thier eyes will catch again to see, even for a moment,
a secret thing inside.
And they will talk.
Of how it is to lose the life they gave,
and if it matters at all in the larger shape of things.
How the voices seemed so right at the moment
but now everything just goes on and on and on.
Wondering whether it was worth it to make thier
children pass through the fire of Molech to satisfy
an anger that never changes.
And they will talk.
Until the bus comes, or the phone rings, or some other
noise calls them back to the life they have chosen.
Daughters of Abraham, alone and together, givers of
birth and feeders of the fire. The day moves on but in
a moment it comes to them how strange and close they
are to each other, beyond the noise, waiting for the bus,
or standing in line, or any place they can talk.