(Tad noticed a distinct likeness to Obi Wan Kenobi - ya think?)
Tad caught wind of a mini-pre-Lenten retreat going on at the Greek Orthodox cathedral in Baltimore on Saturday. He went ahead and signed us both up once he realized who the speaker would be. He was very excited for the chance to actually hear in person someone whose works he'd read in seminary and which he continued to reference thereafter. Unfortunately, I was exhausted that day and had trouble staying focused but I did very much enjoy our day at the cathedral.
I found myself already thinking like a purist in the midst of the beautiful sanctuary - complete with very Western stained glass windows, a huge pipe organ in the front and...gasp...pews! What is Orthodoxy coming to?! It was, however, neat to see the gorgeous iconostasis and the front wall lined with more traditional icons and candle boxes. And the Great Door made for a grand entrance as it was opened wide and the bishop stepped through.
He is a wonderfully engaging speaker. After all my Anglophobia coming out of the CEC, however, it took me some time to get over his British accent. I was hoping for something a bit more...Eastern European I guess (especially surrounded as we were by some very Greek-looking folks).
He hit on some basic teachings of Orthodox theology of the Holy Spirit. Never once did he mention the word charismatic and yet he described a vibrant, very alive and important aspect of Orthodoxy - and thus, of Jesus. Of course his teaching was upheld by both scripture and plenty of quotes from the church fathers. He had some rather amusing anecdotes to share as well which is what made him particularly fun to hear. My mind is a muddle about the specific teachings - I have a terrible memory for these things - so I'll just have to settle with describing my general impressions of the day.
I don't know how many of these types of things I've been to in my lifetime but this was an Orthodox first for us and we felt a bit out of place. I loved the richness of the ethnicities as several jurisdictions joined together for the event and yet the Antiochian church was represented by some very not-very-Antiochian-looking folks. Since many of them were from Holy Cross I am guessing there were quite a few Western converts in the audience as well. I'm looking forward to continuing along this path. The Orthodox are people just like the Lutherans and Presbyterians and Episcopalians I hung out with throughout my childhood and early adulthood - just people doing church together - and, yet, Orthodoxy adds something slightly different to the mix. The way of thinking ventures down a different path than the ones I've trodden thus far and the ethnic mix gives the whole experience an other-worldly feel. The longer it takes me to unravel this whole experience, the happier I think I'll be. If I never get to the end of it before I die, I will have lived a full life exploring the depths of the faith. There really is no better occupation than that, I suppose.
I'm a homeschooling mom to many and wife to Tad, my very best friend. We have 8 homemade blessings, and 5 chosen and adopted children from five different countries. Welcome to our crazy loud family! We hope you enjoy it as much as we do!