After we had reached safety, we then learned that the island was called Malta. The natives showed us unusual kindness. Since it had begun to rain and was cold, they kindled a fire and welcomed all of us around it.
I will never be a native to the Orthodox Church. I will, I hope, become as familiar with the tradition and the customs and I hope become as beloved to my fellow Islanders as any of the natives. Someday in the future I may even be mistaken for a native but I will always be a convert- born somewhere else, raised somewhere else.
I admit my jealousy when I read about those raised on this island. In particular it’s striking in families who have established customs around this time of year and the 12 days of Christmas. It’s not limited to the Orthodox families I know but it does make having converted at this stage in my life somewhat bittersweet.
If you ask my children they might tell you of my many failed attempts to introduce, create or uphold new trends, traditions, customs within our family. Listen, I love these things, I am just terrible at being the ringleader. That being said, I don’t wish I’d started earlier or worked harder. I don’t regret the way things have unfolded. My children are healthy, gaining wisdom all the time, strong and opinionated, discerning and outrageously likable and my two younger boys made me this last week:
Miles and Henry worked on it in the basement, using the remains of the wall Dave was tearing down after the flood we had in October. It’s pretty big, actually, measuring at least 14 inches long and made of left over 2x4s. Miles said that they decided to make a cross for me because as he put it, “you’re religious.”
Just when I am convinced I’m doing it all wrong, forgetting to give instruction on the feasts, neglecting to mention the fasts, not insisting they attend the Sunday school classes- this happens. It’s hard for me to remember that we’re all together on this island, with the natives week after week and that at some level we’re finding our place, slow but sure. Out of the chaos and rubble of our choppy journey through church and faith they are building new things, gifts and remembrances. They know something about me from this whole trip to Orthodoxy and maybe right now it’s simply that I’m “religious” but I like that. I like that a lot.