It had been a year.
A year since I had crept away from Orthodoxy, left books gathering dust on a shelf in the attic, left my catechumen-self mouthing the words to Divine Liturgy. A year since I had first heard the Kyrie, eleison. It had been a year since I stood in the entrance of the church, confessing the Nicene Creed. Then, my voice sang out three times, “I do unite myself to Christ.” I walked right up to the iconostasis, that wall of painted faces, and felt my heart lift towards the Christ looking out at me in blessing from the golden circle of Mary’s womb in the platytera, the icon behind the altar.
I stood outside the church doors, my breathing fast and heavy. I can’t go back. I don’t know what I am doing here. I fumbled with my coat buttons, and finally forced my body through the doors. Who am I to be here? I climbed the stairs. I’m the girl who ran in and out, who became a catechumen, and then stepped away. I dropped two dollars in the offering plate, and took a slim golden candle to light before the icon of the Annunciation. I waited in line behind a woman in a heavy fur coat as she kissed the feet of baby Jesus. When she had shuffled away, I walked towards the icon. I didn’t want to look at it. Icons are part mirror, part window, all mystery. They read us. As I wedged my candle into between two others, I forced my eyes to the cave, to the mother and then, finally, to her Child.
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