It had taken me close to two years to come to the decision that the Orthodox Church was not only the apostolic church, but the right place for me and my wife.
The chrismation ceremony was beautiful and strange and though I had committed myself to the church, I still felt awkward performing an alien (to me) ceremony.
I don’t want to say too much about the chrismation, not because it is not important, but because for those entering the church, I think it would spoil some of the awe that you experience if you know too much about it.
I was in brand new territory. Father Phil had found godparents for us, and I was surprised to see Justin again. I hadn’t seen him since the first night I attended Saint Katherine’s, but I remembered him and his wife all the same. I found that he was serving in a Russian Orthodox church nearby, and that was why I hadn’t seen him in a while.
Justin has been a great source of comfort and wisdom for me. Not only has he helped explain different parts of tradition within the church, but he has been steadfast in prayer on my behalf, and always available for counsel.
Still, though I had a spiritual father and godparent, I still felt as though I was in a foreign land. Truth be told, I still feel that way from time to time during Vespers or Liturgy. I was used to “four blank walls and a pulpit” and now I truly belonged to the exact opposite of that. There were icons and people venerating them. There were prostrations and hand movements that I didn’t understand. It was like belonging to a secret club but not knowing the proper handshakes.
Everyone I have met at Saint Katherine’s has been a wonderful help to me, not just Justin. They have shown us patience and never once has anyone ever said, “you’re doing this wrong”. Instead they have taken the lead by showing us through example, and then explaining what they were doing afterwards, with the reasons behind it, and then inviting us to join them. This was the church, and I felt like I was truly a part of the body of Christ for the first time in my adult life.
But what was I supposed to do now? I belonged, but I didn’t know what else I needed to do. I had read enough books to convince me of the veracity of the Orthodox church, but what else was there?
I also feel a little lost during services because they are partially in Greek, and the most I ever knew of Greek was “alpha” and “omega”, which as important titles of Christ, they are a little less helpful in understanding the service.
Father Phil continued to counsel patience. He advised that for now it would be best to just observe and be part of the community, rather than trying to be the next Orthodox Theological expert in my first month as an Orthodox Christian.