I ran into a wall this weekend and now I don’t want to pray.
I was speaking to someone recently about my journey. She was interested in it as well and I think she had hoped I would be able to enlighten her on some of the finer points…which is crazy…because I know so little. I’m a terrible spokesperson for Orthodoxy. The most I can say is that I feel more stirred up and disjointed than I have ever been where faith is concerned and that somehow, as shitty as this feels, I am convinced it’s leading somewhere really amazing.
Or I might be delusional.
She had some insights though, having heard an author I recognized speak recently that gave me pause. Her hesitation was that the author had made it sound as if Orthodoxy was “exclusive.” To this, I said that perhaps I could understand how it felt that way. We do not take communion at other churches outside the Orthodox tradition (and from SOME inside the Orthodox tradition apparently…) and we do not allow non Orthodox attenders to receive Holy Mysteries at Divine Liturgy. This is true.
“Don’t you think it’s wrong to exclude people though?” was her question.
I suppose my short answer to that is, well, no. In theory, in a place where I want to include and love every single person on the planet it does tear me a little bit. I don’t want to turn my back on people. I want to be open and welcoming and truthful and real. And yet, and still…there is something to the idea of reserving this as sacred, preserving it. I don’t know if that’s crazy or elitist, I just think it makes sense to me. This is a tradition which holds “communion” to a higher standard, a higher ideal maybe. I don’t want to be elitist and I certainly don’t look down on anyone for NOT being Orthodox, not receiving communion here in this space. We find our way, I think.
This is where the pause came. My new friend had some reservations about this author saying that Orthodoxy was the “right” way to be a Christian and everyone else is doing it wrong.
Now, let’s be clear here. I get this. I totally absolutely get this. Orthodox actually means, “right way” I knew this going in. I may have this totally wrong but basically to be Orthodox means that I believe I’m doing Christianity the right way, the way that follows most closely God’s design for communion with Him here on planet earth. I suppose I don’t put a lot of weight on that whole “everyone else is doing it wrong” part. That’s where I fall down a bit.
I’m not willing to offer that judgement. I don’t think that is my job.
I was very clear with my priest about this…if becoming Orthodox means that a) I have to try to evangelize to anyone or b)I have to stand in judgement of someone who is not Orthodox then I’m out, baby…I’m out. I am not about it.
So, I’m making a list of questions on this for my priest. I wonder if I’m just not asking it the right way (no pun intended.) When I consider it, really consider it, I have to go back to this thought that becoming Orthodox is first and foremost, about me and about how I greet the One who made me…how I hear from Him, how I speak with Him, how I move and breathe with Him. It has little to do with politics or niceties. It has nothing to do with how the world perceives me or my choice. It has everything to do with how I allow it to form me, to speak into my heart and my soul…my aim is good, in the long run (hell, in the short run) I have hope that it can help transform me into the best possible version of myself. That is the best I can offer.