No wonder, then, that it is so hard to be Christian–it is not hard it is impossible. No one can knowingly accept a way of life which, the more truly it is lived, leads more surely to one’s own destruction. And that is why we constantly rebel, try to make life easier, try to be half-Christian, try to make the best of both worlds. We must ultimately choose–our felicity lies in one world or the other, not in both.
is like living in another world, not a particular ethnic world but rather a world that intersects with what we commonly understand as the “world” and yet at its core is very different and directed towards wholly different ends. I’m not sure that a person could understand Orthodoxy in its best sense and not be a little bit, or sometimes a lot, estranged from the everyday world. You are part of a tribe that ultimately belongs elsewhere and your travels have such a remarkably different destination.
To be Orthodox is to always be ill at ease, in the best sense of that phrase, with what’s around you. As you grow in your faith you begin to see the fallacies, the errors in logic, the terrible consequences of live lived without God. By seeing them you become “peculiar” as St. Paul would like to say it. How you process information. How you see and envision the world. How you actually live in the world. All these things begin to happen on different terms and those terms make you irregular in the usual course of things.
To be Orthodox is to wake up from a bad dream, a night vision of a world broken by its mortalities and subject to the unnatural rules of sin. There is more. There is better. There is truth and reality and it’s not where your old dream told you it was but rather where your new vision leads you. It’s why people left civilization for the deserts. It’s why wealthy people gave their riches to the poor. It’s why you feel best when you’re closest to the Holy. You are being transformed from a citizen of earth to a citizen of heaven. New rules apply. Old patterns lose their charm. A new person is being built inside your existing body and one day you, body and soul, will realize its potential.
For now we have to be here. This is okay. There is beauty and truth and love and many good things, shadows of the perfect that cause us both to mourn for Eden past and to know, in part, what good lies ahead. Yet we, if we are true to our faith, will always be a little unsettled while we’re here, involved but not attached, alive but not totally belonging, present but not completely accounted for. There is a great freedom in this and life abundant as we grasp this truth.