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Friday, November 29, 2002

Catching Up

Well, over a month has gone by, and I've been pretty quiet here. My apologies to those of you who wonder what's been going on in my life. I could offer lots of excuses, and all of them would be valid to one degree or another, but in the scheme of things, this has not been a real high priority for me. I've had school and planning a wedding to take up most of my spare time.

So I'm gonna try and cover a month's time here. Hope you're in for the long haul on this one.

First, my beloved friends Aaron and Sarah have decided it was time to move their fledgling family East. This has been very exciting for Cybil and me. May God grant them many years! Though their decision was difficult in its own unique ways, I know some of the difficulties they faced in a very intimate way. They now worship with us at St. Barnabas' Antiochian Orthodox Church in Costa Mesa.

The advent fast has begun, and it has proven to be a very spiritually challenging time for me. I think I may need to talk to my priest about it. I wonder if this is one of those times where God is at work in my life in ways that I don't even realize. I understand in principle all of the reasons that we do this, but in some respects, I feel dry right now. Not when I'm at church per se, but when I'm not. Perhaps this is a time where I just continue in the practice of my faith. I have no desire to break the fast, but I do keep asking myself why it is again that I'm doing this. I could go on and on for days my reasoning, and I won't bore you all here with it, but for those three of you that read this (if you still are), please pray for me. As I said, I have no doubts that I will persevere through this, I guess I just keep looking for that heightened sense of whatever that I'm supposed (though perhaps I even have this wrong) to be experiencing. Perhaps the point of it is just walk through the dry desert for forty days, as did our Lord prior to his ministry. Me? I'll just rest in being content to follow the examples of those great ascetics of the past, who in their self denial found God. It's tried and true, and that's all I need to know.

Another thing that I have been thinking a lot about is the way that we communicate. Lots of random thoughts that I haven't really sorted through, and I'm quite sure I've made some mistakes in this area. Anyway, I had a conversation not that long ago with someone, and in looking back, I can see how it may not make Orthodoxy any more appealing. I said something to the affect of, "I think you're missing out". This person's response was something like, "Well, comments like that certainly won't convince me that I am." (My apologies if I didn't quote you accurately, though I promise I did try.) But the more I think about it, I wonder really what is so wrong about those words. I haven't degraded this person; I haven't put myself on any kind of pedestal. I simply said I think you're missing out. Even in my pre Orthodox days, I would say these same things to non-Christians, and I wouldn't get the kind of response I got from this person.

Consider. Two people have the same education, qualifications, background, and experience. One works at a job they are overqualified for, for too little money and no hope of advancement. The only problem is, they think this is all there is for them. Then, the second comes along, and is in a job that provides all the training they could ever want, with all the opportunity for advancement they could ever want, and their financial needs are not an issue. Not only that, but there are plenty of positions open. Is it wrong for this person to say to the first, "I think you're missing out"? But alas, even here, in writing this, perhaps I have crossed the line. If so I beg your forgiveness. Here is where I bring it back to how we communicate (the point of my little diatribe).

I understood that what I said, whether intentionally or not, caused ill feeling in my relationship with this person, even if only a little bit. I could have easily said I'm sorry, and found a different way to communicate what I was saying (or just left it at that). You see, it's not so much whether what we say is true or not. What is more important is what we relate. In Western society, we get so hung up on these little squigglies on a page called words. We try to find the right words, or write the right thing, when in the end, the words don't matter, it the relationship. The words are just a tool for relating, and a rather poor one at that many times. How can I put the mysteries of God into mere words? How can I truly explain in words the glory of the "One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church" to someone who hasn't experienced it. Funny how man has tried to put Love into words for thousands of years, and yet still has never managed to really capture it as it truly is. Some things words will always fail, especially when formed by the imperfect mind (which mine definitely still is).

For those of you that see this, pray for me, as I pray for all of God's children in my own imperfect way. LHM40X

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