Yesterday, we all got up early, washed up, dressed, fed the little ones, then everyone lined up while my dear wife put clean white shirts on all the kids as we prepared for chrismation. Even the van was white for the occasion (a rental while we await Clifford's repair). Naturally, hassle after hassle kept cropping up, from whining toddlers to lost car keys to almost colliding with a deer (in a section of town where I have never, ever seen a deer in over twenty years of driving through it). But, we made it to our mission church's borrowed temple space, and after removing everyone's shoes (my wife will put some pics up on her blog soon), we entered into the Christmation Rite.
My poor wife has been assailed with doubts and challenges all week, but they really didn't start for me until we began the "cleansing" by renouncing all manner of misguided beliefs. The key one for me was the renunciation of the "filioque", because I believe that this single word is the root of all the troubles the Church struggles with in the modern age, especially the charismania with which we have been up close and personal. Anyway, as these waves of random doubts and fears passed over my soul, I assuaged them by reminding myself of all the fine, upstanding Orthodox Christians I know, then those whose writings I admire (Anastasia Theodoris, FMG, Fr Alexander Schmemann, Fr Thomas Hopko), then to the great saints of the Church (St John Chrysostom, the Great Cappadocians, and so many more), and it suddenly struck me that this was what the Communion of Saints was all about -- that great "cloud of witnesses" that serves to strengthen and guide us through our fears and uncertainties. Then, the next thing I know, Father has the oil out, people are shouting "Sealed!", and then I've crossed that bridge and now stand as one with the saints of Orthodoxy. One by one the rest of my family joined me, and then we all stood together surrounded by the saints and the hosts of heaven.
The rest of the day was a joy. We had invited the parish over to our house to celebrate with a cookout, and it was great to welcome our new parish family into our home to sit, chat, eat, and get to know each other just a little bit better. They brought us some beautiful icons, which I hope we can get pics up soon. The weather was perfect, and everyone had a great time.
That night, after everything got cleaned up and my wife and I were relaxing, we compared notes on how we felt at the end of this long adventure. "Safe" was her word. "Home" was mine -- but not in the sense of returning to anything, but more in the sense of how we would refer to our adopted children on their arrival days as "bringing them home". We have been adopted home, and it is a good feeling indeed.
Many thanks to everyone who have supported and prayed for us during this time. May God grant you many years!