Wednesday, June 18, 2008

that I may dwell in the house of the Lord

One thing have I asked of the Lord, this will I seek after: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, that I may behold the delight of the Lord, and that I may visit His holy temple (Ps 26, LXX).
The time has come to leave the doorstep. I started this blog two years ago, before I was a catechumen, to write about my life in between. By that point, I knew where I wanted to be. (Remember, I had been investigating Orthodoxy for two years already.) But I still had important lessons to learn in patience, faith, and humility, before I could move any further. I still have a long way to go in those and many other areas; the journey, of course, never ends. But now I enter a new phase, properly within the nave--the ark--of the Church, where the real work begins.

For those who aren't familiar, the metaphor of this blog's title is based on Traditional Church architecture. As you enter, you come first to the narthex--the porch, or entrance, or vestibule. Various services are meant to be observed here--parts of memorial and funeral services, I believe, and most notably for our purposes, the beginning of baptism and chrismation, by which someone formally enters the Church. Also, it was traditionally where the non-Orthodox would stand if they were allowed to be present at all in a service. This restriction is still observed in some monasteries, but for the most part Orthodox parish practice accepts that the basic rituals of Christianity are no longer so foreign to outsiders that their presence in the service will cause more harm than good.

Catechumens fell somewhere in the middle. They were allowed to enter the nave--the main room--for most services, but before the Eucharistic portion of the Divine Liturgy, they would be dismissed. Inspired by lines from a psalm about choosing to stand on the doorstep of God's Temple, I identified my own situation with that of a beginning inquirer, peering in from the narthex, to catch a blessed glimpse of God's grace at work in his Church. Even after becoming a catechumen, the metaphor still worked, since I was not yet all the way inside. Now that I am inside (again, more beginning than culmination), a good deal changes. I am a convert to Orthodoxy, which I suppose has its distinctive features, but more to the point, I am an Orthodox Christian, plain and simple. As the journey moves forward, the earlier metaphor no longer applies.

One solution, I suppose, would be simply to change the name of the blog. Perhaps better, I could end this blog and start another. And it may be that, in time, I will blog again. But for now, I think it makes sense to wrap things up. The personal need I felt to justify my path, to argue my points, to respond to critics, has mostly dried up. What remains I think is best ignored. For me, such things too easily stand in for real life in whatever I'm supposed to be doing here and now. I need to learn silence, before I'll ever have anything truly worthwhile to say.

What is here, warts and all, may still be of benefit to someone; for that reason, I don't think I'll take it down anytime soon. I also plan to post something in the way of pictures from the chrismation service, when I get a chance. It will still be possible to post comments, and from time to time I may respond to those who do. Otherwise, I'll be about the business of being human. Lord willing, we'll all find some success at it in whatever life brings us.

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