Welcome, Wayfarer! I'm a convert to the Coptic church, and had a long, slow road myself, through Baptist, charismatic and Anglican churches.What an interesting image! As I was pondering conversion to Catholicism or Orthodoxy, I kept picturing myself as standing outside these beautiful churches and peering in, getting a whiff of incense or a waft of singing, but afraid to step through the door. At that point I wasn't even in a Protestant church anymore, so I really was out on the doorstep.
You and I have a similar background then!
Interesting thing about the incense, even the from the handful of times I've been able to visit, the smell of the incense lingers almost like a childhood memory of cookies in the oven - if you think about it long enough, you can almost smell it again.
I feel that I am a huge paradox. I am very much schooled in protestant (and specifically - Augustinian/Calvinist) doctrine and yet for some reason the Orthodox church doesn't seem all that strange or exotic. I love the fact that the services are sung beginning to end, that (at least where I've visited) there were no pews so it lacked the "going to the movies" feel as in the churches I grew up in.
Look forward to chatting with you folks!