It was 10 years ago when my husband entered an Eastern Orthodox church in Chicago and felt like he had come ‘home’. He was there with our oldest son on a college search and happened upon this church in the middle of the city.
I had no idea when he came home that our spiritual journey would take a sharp and unmistakable turn into the mysteries of the Eastern Orthodox faith and we would never be quite the same.
A couple of months later he urged me to attend a vespers service, a Saturday night service, call it “Orthodox light”.
Saturday night vespers begins with the setting of the sun and precedes Divine Liturgy, which will be held the next day. It’s a service with a lot of Psalms and a quiet, contemplative tone.
Everyone likes Vespers….everyone except me it seemed.
So we attended vespers. I did not like the service. I disliked how long it was on a Saturday evening and day dreamed of being back home sitting on our patio, enjoying the Phoenix sunset. I was irritated by the women who attended, their faces and voices raised in out of this world peace. I was annoyed by the icons. I quickly dismissed the whole package.
“We’ll get through this eastern orthodoxy stage” I thought, and continue doing what we knew well: vacillating between feeling sometimes alienated and sometimes a part of the American evangelical church. Nothing would really change.
But a month later he invited me to Pascha, that great and glorious resurrection service signifying the end of the great fast and the Risen Saviour. And I disliked that even more. My feet hurt. My back started to ache. The apostles glared at me from Iconic holiness and I wanted to cry. I barely made it past midnight in a service that would go on until the wee hours of the morning.
Despite all this, every Sunday I get up and head to Holy Resurrection in Allston, a part of Boston known for its high population of students, bars, and ethnic restaurants. There I humbly take part in the Divine Liturgy of the Orthodox Church. I reverently venerate icons and make the sign of the cross, and I say “Lord Have Mercy” many times. I hear the priest say “Thine own of thine own we offer up to thee” and join my voice with a hundred others singing “We have seen the true light! We have received the Heavenly Spirit. We have found the true faith, worshiping the undivided Trinity, who has saved us”
Because I am a Reluctant Orthodox. I am an unexpected, but thoroughly committed catechumen in the Eastern Orthodox Church, learning daily about this ancient faith that I sometimes doubt, other times believe, and all the time feel compelled to pursue until I reach the other side, and all is made clear.
And today marks a new edition to Communicating Across Boundaries. I will publish The Reluctant Orthodox every week on Sunday. My goal is to articulate my journey of faith, and through doing so perhaps others will see some of their own journey.
Welcome to the Reluctant Orthodox.