I haven't written very much on this blog about my journey with Orthodoxy. I began to explore it my senior year of high school, with all the boundless energy and assuredness that I carried with me. I read the books and practiced prayers of the ancient church fathers who I did not know and could not understand. I thought about icons. I thought about incense. I poked my head into doorways and windows, and stood on my tiptoes to peer inside.
I know now that I wanted to run before I knew how to walk there. I wanted to be Orthodox before I wanted to know Orthodoxy. I wanted those prayers to be mine, somehow, before I had let the words seep into my heart and strengthen me from afar.
And so I fell down, like every child learning to walk. I tripped over my own two feet as I went sprinting ahead, so sure that this is what was next and right and this is who I was and this is what I was going to do and, and, and...
I remember going for a walk in March of my freshman year of college, down to the pond half a mile from my house. I sat down on the concrete edge, my feet dangling over the water in their red sneakers. The wind brushed my hair into my eyes and as I tucked the strands back behind my ears I felt myself exhale, and I prayed, out loud to the quiet pond and the rustling branches, "I am not ready to do this." I prayed about falling over, about not knowing how to walk, admitting for the first time that I'd been clutching those beautiful prayers and icons and mysteries too close to my impatient heart, and they didn't belong to me yet. And I began to give it back to Him - the desire to be Orthodox, the desire to pray those prayers, the desire to feel at home in the gravity of that sanctuary - and slowly, He put my on my feet again.
This morning I woke up with the words of the Divine Liturgy ringing in my ears. The prayers wove in and out as I stared at the rain waiting in the sky and pressed my nose up against the windowpane. For this holy house and for those who enter it with faith, reverence, and the fear of God, let us pray to the Lord.
Help us, save us, have mercy on us, and protect us O God by your grace.
Remembering our most holy, pure, blessed and glorious Lady the Theotokos and ever virgin Mary, with all the saints, let us commit ourselves and one another and our whole life to Christ our God.
I still don't know how to walk in Orthodoxy, how to feel the weight of those words in my heart, how to wrap myself up in them and pray them. But this morning I heard these words. And I added a few of my own:
O Lord, teach me to walk.
O Lord, teach me to give You my heart.
O Lord, teach me to pray.
O Lord, again and again in peace, because You are merciful and because You know me, know this little redheaded girl staring out this window with the melody of the Liturgy ringing in her ears, who is waiting on You, and hoping in You? Show me the way to You.
And until You say, "It's time" – let me grow in love for what I see through the windows of the sanctuary and help me, save me, have mercy on me, and protect me O God by your grace.