I hate summer.  I get VERY lazy in the summer.  So…I have been gone from wordpress.  But the fresh cool air reinvigorates me, so I am already thinking of new things to post here.

One…after cancelling the baptisms, etc….we dealt with a month of my daughter wailing and crying that she wanted to “be Orthodox”, and “missed Fr. Brendan’s Church”.  She looked at me and said, “I don’t care if you are not Orthodox, I want to be Orthodox!”  We figured that we had been unable to “pick” a spiritual home for her, and most particularily I had done a real bang-up job of immersing her in various practices/traditions and then abandoning them…and so, she might be the one most wise to make the decision.  I suppose it is some small miracle that she just “didn’t care” at all.  I had to realize that I couldn’t let my children languor and potentially grow away from any desire to be part of a spiritual community, to want to follow G-d while I kep searching and waiting for the perfect place. 

So, we are at the Russian Orthodox Church.  Everyone was baptised, chrismated, tonsured and churched.  I have put all the major feasts on my calendar, and work them into our homeschooling schedule.  We go to liturgy as regularly as possible as a family, then spend the rest of the day visiting relatives in the area.  We have a small icon corner, and my children “play church” on a regular basis.  Through listening to their imaginings, I have come to realize that they actually have learned by heart large chunks of the two-hour long liturgy.

Russian Churches tend to have very little to no “children’s education”.  This may seem to some to be a bad thing, but I actually love it.  There is no trying to teach facts and doctrine to underdevloped little intellects with worksheets and flannel board.  On the contrary, the RO Church calls doctrine and dogma “the tragedy of dogma”.  There is an awareness that any doctrine that is held does not actually DEFINE G-d.  Dogma always boxes G-d in, and it is only expressed when needed to dispell an untruth.  In a lot of places where the Catholic Church (and many others) have created linear explanations of doctrine to answer the “I don’t knows”, the Orthodox Church still says, “It’s a mystery”.  In fact so much is under the “mystery” category, that the highest communion we can have with G-d and our Saviour is a mystical one, not an intellectual one.  We can mystically enter into H-s presence, without “proper” understanding.  Understanding evolves over eternity, in the process of theosis, but mystical union can happen in an instant.  At any point if our intellect overshadows our direct mystical union with Christ, then the intellect has become an idol.

So, we bring our children to liturgy, and I feel no pressure to make sure they understand “what’s going on and why”, but instead let them experience the sights, smells and sounds as they are.  In fact,St. Theophan the Recluse taught that the best thing we can do for children is to give them a very simple, plain and quiet life.  They should have simple foods, plain clothes, a quiet existence without clutter and things…so that when they go to liturgy, or when they are out in nature, they can see the beauty and richness in it.  The most stimulating things they should be doing should be going before the throne of G-d and being outside in G-d’s Creation.  Because of this teaching, I have found that the few other families in our church live what I would consider to be “Quakerly” lives.  I have blogged about this previously, but it bears repeating, even if just for my own comfort: even though aesthetically the RO Church and Quakerism seem to be on opposite plains, they are actually far more similar in essence that any of the other churches.

I still drag my feet, and I still feel my constant dissatisfaction…lamenting the fact that I don’t live in Barnesville, or Michigan, or Washington State…so that I could be “what I really want to be”.  But I think that G-d is teaching me to be who He wants me to be.  I will never learn to curb my complaining tongue if I am just given everything exactly as how I think it should be given to me.  I will never learn about true sacrificial love if I never have to sacrifice.  And most importantly, I will never truly learn who I am in G-d if I keep trying to fit perfectly into the label I personally like the best.

So, my last post was about “maybe that’s just who you are”…and how I am endeavoring to accept that I am all these things, but ultimately I am ONE thing, and ONE thing only…and that is a child of G-d.  I am a daughter of the King.  I am wholly and completely H-s, and I am not of this world, though I walk in it.  I can’t give up on community and practice and WAY because I don’t fit perfectly into one mould or another.  Instead, I am trying to hold lightly in one hand the place where G-d has called us to at the moment, while letting it go and be free in the other.  I don’t have to box myself into the apparent dogma or rigidity of a place…but if I stay free and light, I can grow through the form.  If I stay focused on the Inner CHrist, then He will open up the Way Through the form of anything in this world.  I have made the smallest change in my thinking, but it seems to have had the most impact on me…I want to always LOOK THROUGH instead of LOOK AT.  The moment I hyper-focus on form, I will get bogged down in my regular patterns of doubt, negative resignation and overly-striving.

I must admit, most of my personal spiritual time is spent in the Quaker world…virtually, in books, short visits to Woolman Hill…and I get a real twinge of pleasure when my daughter wears her Quaker bonnet to liturgy.  I don’t belong to any virtual Orthodox Communities, but I am a regular lurker on Quaker Quaker.  MMM….maybe I have become one of those dreaded “hyphen”types!  Oh well, it is what it is.  Ambiguity and confusion seem to be hallmarks of this Life of mine!