I’m Aware…

of the sins, the struggles, the general craziness that rears up, sometimes daily, in the Orthodox Church. I’m aware of our scandals, our tragedies, the games played behind the scenes, and many places where we fall short of our ideal. I am touched by them. At times I am, regrettably, part of them. I sin and struggle and so do the people of my Church.

I’d like it to be better. I wish everyone in my Church were perfect and myself the first. The process of becoming perfected is horrible sometimes.  There is so much to clear away, so much to remove, so much illness to be scoured out. The thought of it overwhelms me at times. Sometimes I despair. Sometimes I think of just letting it all fall away and leave for that elusive something, somewhere, where the grass across the fence seems greener.

But I won’t. I plan to stay.

I know that the day to day affairs of Orthodoxy can be touched by deep darkness and knicked by a thousand small sinful cuts. Yet I know that its also the way out of all of those things, the sins, the struggles, the dark moments, and the disease which sometimes effects everything from the largest structure of the Church to the smallest corner of my soul. It remains the beautiful path. Narrow for sure, often untrod, and surrounded by dangers, but yet the beautiful path.

My prayer is only that I stay on this path as best as I can and when I wander away I retain enough sense to find my way back. While I see the cares and struggles around me I pray that God gives me the vision to keep my eyes focused on Christ who walks with me on the way and is also the goal of my travels. If I do that I may not always be in the most comfortable spot but I will be safe, and that makes all the difference.

I Came of Age…

in the 1970’s when many of the old lies we still believe were becoming the mainstream of our society, the stuff of music, culture, and politics. The whole idea was to be free, free of restraint. free of the chains of responsibility, free of the restrictions of morality, free to live a life in the face of convention, free of the past and free of the future. It was all about being liberated from anything but the moment and it was supposed to be the dawn of a new world. If you can’t be, as the song said, with the one you love, honey, love the one you’re with…

And in varying degrees I bought in to it. You don’t need to know the details but there were times when I played the game by the new rules. It felt risky. Sometimes it felt good. Occasionally I felt like the king of the world I had created. Yet I was also wrong.

I hurt myself. Worse than that I hurt other people and brought trouble to their lives. You see you can’t have a world where everyone is doing as they please without somebody having to pay the bill for it all. Nature and nature’s God are never mocked, and garbage in soon and always become garbage out. Looking back I sometimes shake my head at the depth of my foolishness. Yet it seemed right at the time, and that’s the operative word “seemed”. Life is just not a “Cheech and Chong” movie and what was funny then seems sad now.

Yet people still insist on living the way we thought we were supposed to back then. Spend without saving. Hook up without commitment or regrets. Dance the night away and pretend it won’t matter in the morning. Indeed, in the years following my own coming of age people are even more committed to living the fantasy life. If the lie was edgy back then its the mainstream now and for the most part the inmates are in charge of the asylum.

Some day, of course, the whole thing will come crashing down. In fact the collapse is already under way.  As a culture our country is financially, morally, spiritually, academically, and politically rushing towards bankruptcy. We’ve ignored the old wisdom at our peril and become barbarians, barbarians with advanced electronics, but barbarians nonetheless. Eventually the cost will be too much and the weight of it will force the house of cards to the ground.

Still, there is hope. There is an alternative way of existing in this world. It’s a difficult way because to live it one must constantly swim against our culture’s currents. Jesus calls us out of the lies, the darkness, and the world of shadows into a new kind of existence, a kingdom in this world but not of it, a reality counter intuitive to the times as truth is to lies and light to the darkness.  Those who find it discover the beautiful path in a world of alleys and eternity in the midst of time.

God grant us all to find our way Home.