Beloved of God militantsparrow:
You are not alone. I am with you. Many others are with you. Even the Psalmist proclaims: I am a stranger in the earth: hide not thy commandments from me. My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto thy judgments at all times.
We intuitively grasp at the truth and beauty of God, but we are never comfortable with it. We look to our future hope, but is as through a mirror darkly. We stand in the Church, the embassy of the Kingdom of Heaven which surrounds us and yet seems obscured, and we approach the chalice as the woman with the issue of blood, hoping that by reaching out and touching the hem of His garment we will be healed.
But we approach, again and again. That is the essence of faith, getting up every time we fall and reaching for that garment once again, hoping — and beyond that, believing — that even though we know we do not belong there, God in his mercy will push us through the Gates of Heaven.
And Christ does not merely content himself with letting us be healed with a brush of his cloak. He turns and tells us to go in peace. It is through his strength that we are able to get up and walk again, and it is his strength that will carry us home when our own strength is too small.
I have been thinking a lot about my own conversion, the struggles I went through and the flawed reasons I sought out the Orthodox Church. None of those matter now, at least not to the degree of importance to which I attached them. What matters to me is — to paraphrase +Kallistos Ware’s infamous paraphrase — I cannot tell you where I won’t find Christ, but I know where I will. I meet him in the Church, and through communion I can become his tabernacle. It is in the Church we can meet Christ. We cannot brush his garment, but we can receive him in faith through his true body and true blood.
This doesn’t mean things will be easy. Things may never be easy — the Scriptures tell us even those who knew Christ struggled to believe in his Resurrection and his promises. How much moreso must it be for us?
I don’t know if I will ever be truly comfortable in his Church, or if comfort is even possible — who, when met with fire, stands still? Joy, I think, will come for me — and for you — as we are purified as gold by the fire, but who knows if this process will ever be easier?
It is not the beauty of the liturgy, or the connection to our ancient forerunners, that keeps me going back to the Church. It is Christ. It is in him I find my comfort in these uncomforting days. May he grant me — and you, and all of us — rest on that great and glorious last day.
I stand with you a stranger in a strange land.
May the Holy Trinity bolster you in your weakness; may the blessed Theotokos protect you by her intercession, and by the prayers of our holy Fathers, may our Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on you —and us — and save us.