He answered, “The man who is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash’; so I went away and washed, and I received sight.”
“You’re going to have a hard time being Orthodox and being a liberal” he told me, and I did not disagree. I knew that he was right. I had just witnessed some political observations on Facebook, where all ideas go to be debated, hammered thin, wrapped in prosciutto, held together with toothpicks and baked until dry and hard. I have been guilty of this- stating things, asking questions not to bring something new to the table but to rattle someone’s cage, offer up a meal of overcooked jerky and proclaim it gourmet. Laboring under the delusion that if you don’t like it, it’s because your taste buds are not sophisticated enough, of course.
When I neared my chrismation I made a concerted effort to emulate some of the people who guided me in this process, people who pointed out road signs on the journey into Orthodoxy. I moved away from the radical serving of over-baked ideas and hoped to reach more whole heartedly into listening, hearing, praying and waiting. There is no absence of opinion on the internet. There is a great need for understanding, though, a great need for discernment.
During this time, which happened to fall while the US elections were heating up considerably, I witnessed an interaction online that gave me pause. Rather than respond on the thread, I emailed the party in question, a priest I’d never met. I asked him, with great respect, if he might amend his language about “liberals” because I considered myself a “liberal” and I felt that he was losing my ear with some of the adjectives he used in conjunction with that word. I told him, honestly, I required his input on issues such as this but that when I felt disregarded because of my stance on some social matters, I was less likely to hear him.
He listened. And he told me I was going to have a hard time being Orthodox and being a self-professed liberal and I knew then he was right. A little stab of panic rises up in me every time a new social issue comes down the pike, which means I’m being stabbed non stop these days. The world is changing and I am in the world and no matter how I try I find that I unable to keep from engaging. What I told my FB priest friend was that my great hope is that I would approach these issues with a goal of seeking wisdom rather than defiance. I am looking for dialogue. I am looking for the conversation that happens in the corners of the room rather than shouting under the spotlight because that is where hearts are changed.
I have hope for this world and no matter how the culture weaves or unravels I have hope in the long-lasting, steady vision of the Orthodox church, the vision that was put in place when Christ walked the earth, with hands used to wash the feet of his followers, arms that welcomed the children to him, healing that poured from him when touched by a woman who is bleeding, healing the blind and infirm.
I am that bleeding woman and I am that blind man, and that lame man lowered through the ceiling, that human in need of forgiveness, in need of wisdom. And I can see him there, his fingers forming the mud and the clay to open my eyes, my ears, my heart.