Friday, June 3, 2011

The Great Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord

The icon of the Ascension at church yesterday.

Despite what is happening for us right now with Karl's health, I am so happy the kids and I went to church yesterday. I have never felt like this before. Last night when I was talking with a dear friend about Karl and how worried we are, I attempted to describe this to her. It is difficult to explain.

When I was a young girl, I remember praying and genuinely believing. I had a difficult childhood. So I remember praying with all my being, with tears that did not end. I remember praying not for good things but for strength to survive. This strength was obviously granted to me or I would not be here.

I found this handwritten excerpt from Psalm 69 in an old diary of mine today. I must have been 12 or 13.

I was just a kid, though, and when I began to open my eyes to the rest of the world everything unraveled for me. This was a result of many things, including the particular brand of belief I was raised within. Ever since I have not been able to pray, or talk, or even think about God without this loud voice overshadowing all. It says things like "You don't really believe this garbage." and "This is so pathetic of you." or sometimes I perceive it as merely a silent eye roll at my behavior. It makes me sad to type, but it has been my truth for a long time. Of course I don't actually hear voices. I think you know what I mean.

But this has all changed for me. It began with a strong desire to overcome the doubt, to really divine the truth. This desire was what led us to the Roman Catholic Mass, what urged us to go through RCIA and make a commitment. But since Palm Sunday, our first day in the Orthodox Church, the desire for change no longer encompasses what is happening. The voice is gone. It is not there.

My dear friend on the phone summed it up in a single sentence. She said "You have been given the gift of faith."

That's it. For the first time in my adult life, I am praying without that voice clouding my mind. I can speak about God to my children without the shameful feeling of doubt. I am able to feel with my heart the truth of our being here on earth. It is so wonderful, and yet I can't imagine that what I have typed here really relays what I mean.

Still, all this has left its mark on me. While the doubt is gone and I feel free, there are old habits and mind tricks left behind. I worry deeply about making mistakes at church or when I speak about God to the kids. I over think every aspect of this conversion. It feels sometimes like I am waiting for the doubt to come back. I want to be clear, the overwhelming sense of this is freedom and amazement. But I recognize that I have work to do to preserve this gift.

Save me, O God!
For the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in deep mire,
where there is no foothold;
I have come into deep waters,
and the flood sweeps over me.
I am weary with my crying out;
my throat is parched.
My eyes grow dim
with waiting for my God.

(Psalm 69)


  1. that is beautiful. May God protect you in this. Loved also your post on Dillard's book... this is one of the few I don't own yet... sounds like a really good one. Praying for your husband K. and have a candle lit to St. Nectarios...

  2. You brought me to tears. I know what you're talking about. The fear that 'the voice' will come back or that you will make a mistake is a temptation. Recognize it and say 'no' to it. You're ok. Glory to God. (:

    (Praying for your husband. How is he today?)


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