What I know about the state of things happening in the world is lacking. It’s easy to be consumed with the daily antics of politics and culture in the United States. We can be a little self-centered. That’s to be expected, I guess. We are, in effect, the teenager of the world powers. We’re teenagers with nuclear weapons.
It is only after I set foot on the path of Orthodoxy that I began to take notice of what’s really happening in places like Syria and Ukraine. Up until that point I tried to be worldly where news was concerned. I would check out BBC and Al Jazeera. I would read a number of things online to try to discern what’s going on and I would fail mostly.
It’s confusing and far away and I have bills to pay and children to parent and laundry to do. There was nothing personal in those stories for me, or at least, I didn’t think there was anything personal.
Becoming Orthodox has served to connect me with a larger community, a more diverse and worldly community of faith. Rather than navel gazing I’m asked each and every week to pray and to be specific about it. We pray for the world and we pray for the kidnapped priests and nuns in Syria. And we pray for the unrest in Kyiv, passing around photos of Orthodox priests standing between people in an effort to stop the violences.
I will be the first to admit that my conversion had to do mainly with my own spiritual journey. Left to my own devices, I could live a life of prayer in a small room away from the world. I would be happy to stagger toward theosis, polishing my nous at every turn and thinking nothing of the world at large. But entering into this community of faith brings with it a challenge to pray for the world, a challenge to pay attention to war and injustice and difficulty I may never experience first hand and I am meant to approach that “in love” as the words of St Isaac of Syria suggest:
“In love did God bring the world into existence; in love is God going to bring it to that wondrous transformed state, and in love will the world be swallowed up in the great mystery of the one who has preformed all these things; in love will the whole course of the governance of creation be finally comprised.”
– St. Isaac of Syria
The last three years have been a time of incubation, getting my feet solid on this road. It feels as though this next piece of the journey involves looking outward as well, a kind of patting the head and rubbing the belly process to be sure.
It takes everything I have to turn away from navel gazing and my own personal agenda, my gains and my losses, to look at the atrocities happening far away from me. It takes everything because it feels meaningless sometimes; I cannot fix it, I cannot even discuss it with any insight. Even so, the course of love requires me to engage the world, to pay attention, to pray and to speak about it when I am able, at the very least.
For more about what is happening in Syria look here: