13 January 2007


to clear the record immediately, I should explain that the word "shattered," to our Scottish friends, (and maybe others, too), means one who's had too much drink. that definition is not my intent for this post.

Right, so here's the thing, I'm on a retreat. And since it's the tail end of my first week in the graduate program for "my" masters in spiritual formation, I expected the retreat to provide the space and format to practice the spiritual disciplines, and to reflect on the week's teaching and experiences, etc.

And then, we arrived at the monastery.
After a brief stop to drop off our belongings and get oriented with our sleeping area, we went to the chapel.
And we proceeded to stand through our first three hour worship service.
(I did say stand!)
And that was the beginning of the disallusionment of another paradigm.

I recall the moment of "understanding" systemic racism during a race-relations training I participated in. It ocurred throughout the training in significant ways in part as I realized that chunks were omitted from history lessons.

Somewhat similarly, the innocent introduction to the Orthodox church begins.
To be sure, likely I have not cared to know more. But I'm sure that before this weekend, my only realized connection with the orthodox church was that a guy on a volleyball team, from long ago, was part of the Greek Orthodox Church. And that's about it, really.

I won't pretend to do justice to all I'm learning and experiencing. and I won't pretend that I'm ready or eager to "convert" to this type of Christianity, even if they are the original church. I'm not even slightly drawn to the liturgy and worship service, for one thing.

But I'm completely captivated by the way they pursue living the Christian life. The perspective they take on heaven and salvation seems to line up much more with scripture than with what many mainline evangelicals profess and enact. And their practices about community, caring for one another, and charity in the context of the church, and church meaning all of life, really compel me. Unfortunately, I've identified that I entered the weekend with a preconceived notion. In my ignorance, I'd lumped this church in with my limited knowledge of catholicism. When that's not the case at all.

There are several things, however, which challenge my "normal" way of thinking. For instance, they pray for people who have "departed." They include them in the communion of saints. "Why should we stop praying for them?" Which supports their perspective that heaven is not a destination, nor is it a static environment. It is a process of continuing to become more like Christ. So they continue to pray for the saints who have gone on before them.

Because of my previously stated ignorance, when I began listening to this, I immediately assumed they were praying TO these people, which made me defensive and want to reject everything else on offer through the orthodox church. How unfortunate, actually, to reject the whole, because what I witness, observe, and believe I'm learning, is that these Christians love the Lord and each other and His creation with all their heart, soul, mind and strength. It is a privilege to participate in their community and receive their generous hospitality for these days.

Open the eyes of my heart, Lord, I want to see you.

1 comment:

Jewels said...

Very interesting, Gracie!