Hello. I am new to Orthodoxy. I started studying Russian a few months ago and when I connected with other people on Facebook. At first it was more just a secular interest where I would watch the Russian ceremonies and Dyen Pobedi parades on You Tube but then I began to notice the strong Orthodox Presence among the Russian people. As I became more immersed in wanting to see things not from the USA viewpoint but rather learn how others see things, I connected with a young person from Serbia who started telling me all about Orthodoxy. I noticed how just from listening to the Liturgies, I felt a happiness I have not felt in a long time. This person from Serbia strongly encouraged me to go to the Orthodox center in my town. I was a bit shy since my Russian isn't so good yet but I went and felt really touched by the presence there...also there are some people there I feel may be saints (what I mean is that I think they see God all the time). It's a small center. It's actually a sister church for the huge San Francisco Church for St. John Maximovitch 4 hours away. I'm a bit nervous to ask anyone there how one goes about being Orthodox since I realize my Russian is still really not good at all. I adore Russian culture and strongly resonate with Russian liturgy. One of these days I want to make a pilgramage this summer to San Francisco to St. John Maximovich's holy shrine...though I guess I'm scared to do so...because I'm sure once I go there, I'll be rushing to the priests asking what I would do to become Orthodox. I did go as far to ask the people of our church about learning more on Orthodoxy and a woman who is an icon painter strongly encouraged me to read the internet that there is lots of information in English.
One of the things I see in Orthodoxy is that it gives answers to life...through the stories and beautiful examples of how the saints lived their lives. The saints are a beacon of light in our troubled times of confusioin. In this modern world where people are trying so hard to find quick fixes and the promise that things are going to go exactly as they want them to, then getting irritated or depressed when they don't, I find it's such a breath of fresh air to read the Orthodox saints and their teachings that stress how we can USE the trials of life to draw us much closer to God---that even in our struggles, they can lead us to happiness as these cause us to run to God where our True Home is. I have been pretty discouraged constantly being influenced by a world that says that perfect youth, perfect bodies, glamour, lots of money and all that stuff is the main goal of life. Now being close to approaching my forties, I began to ask myself seriously, "Is all this stuff going to fulfill me? Isn't it true that we humans tend to cling to the things that someday we all know we must depart without? I know in my heart that the saints are RIGHT...that there IS a GREATER JOY something FAR GREATER than all these other things we so desperately run after. So many spiritual paths out there try to convince us that if we work hard enough, we can forever look glamorous young, never have to pay bills, be rich and famous, and never get another flat tire...seriously...almost as if they're trying to teach us that people without trials are the most spiritually happy people----and yet I realize more and more that even if we were to achieve all these goals, in the end, they are NOT the answer. I really am beginning to feel in my heart that people like Patriarch Pavle and Saint Serafim of Sarov probably WERE much happier with their few possessions than the masses of people who are running around worried about their 401Ks like chickens with their heads cut off. So many people think a 401K is the answer to life....but the saints know there is MORE to life than the rainbows we are constantly chasing. They KNEW that GOD ALONE is what we have forever and so even while they are living in the world, they have eyes that always saw God.
I hope that I can find some people to talk to here in this community who could help me learn more about Orthodoxy...maybe even some Russian friends who I could practice Russian with talking about spiritual topics learning more about Orthodoxy...I would like to understand the Liturgies and stories about the saints because there is much information on the internet and I'm slowly learning Russian. Maybe i could connect with some people here who go to the San Francisco church since I plan to take a drive there in that area to go to the shrine for St. John Maximovich...but anyone from ANY nationality I would want reach out to because I am discovering that Orthodox chants are beautiful in ALL the languages. This is a beautiful path indeed.