Monday, February 12, 2007

A Little Faith


So I don't really know why I don't post at all about my faith. It certainly relates to raising my children, since we are raising them as Eastern Orthodox Christians. Part of it is that I always feel like my faith is so personal that it is hard to write about. But I write about the bad behavior of my kids, about my worries and fears about how we are raising them. I write about Henry's rotting teeth and Luke's tantrums. So why don't I write at all about being Orthodox?

Mostly, I think that I fall way, way short of the mark of what it means to be an Orthodox Christian. I know everyone says that, but believe me, this isn't humility speaking. I feel like a hypocrite writing about my faith because it is so small. Well, this isn't exactly accurate. I do have quite a bit of faith, I guess, but my practice is rather dismal.

In the past, I went to church and participated in as many services as possible, but I realize that this was largely for show. At least 75 percent of my motivation for attending church has been because I should. When we left our home parish to attend graduate school, this motivation began to fall away. I realized that people didn't think less of me for not attending Great Vespers sometimes, and that missing the occassional Divine Liturgy wasn't the end of the world. And, happily, my delight and joy in church began to grow. And then I attended church more.

But then we moved to Chicago and we had children, an intersection of events that has been rather disasterous to the practice of my faith. I now go to church on three out of four Sundays. And that is it. No Great Vespers, no mid-week services. And, really, this could become a pondering on faith and practice and how these overlap and reflect one another and the chicken and the egg . . .

But when it comes down to it, going to church with my two very active boys feels like hard work, and I don't often feel particularly spiritually rewarded for it. I feel a lot closer to God when I get a chance to say personal prayers, or when I light the candle in front of my icons, or, really, during any moment of beauty and peace that I can find in any one of my days.

I do think going to church, despite this, has its own rewards, but right now these rewards feel the same as those I get when I get up every day at five in the morning with Luke and Henry and start reading spiderman books, buttering toast, washing dishes and wiping bottoms. I get through it. I do it because the alternative is yelling and feeling sorry for myself and checking out. And I can't do that, because then I would miss that moment at the park when the sunlight hits them both from behind as they sit on top of the slide, just perched there ready for speed, laughing with what is surely a holy joy.

4 comments:

Jenny said...

Ser,

I love this final line about the sunlight hitting them from behind--the holy joy. I hope I can become more and more open to that--and to see it more and more.

Jen

P.S. If you write about the underwear I'll treat you to coffee at Starbucks. If you can't, though, I understand.

Molly Sabourin said...

Amen to that Ser! We show up and wrestle, like the virgins keeping oil in their lamps for the unexpected moment when the bridegroom will reveal Himself.
Just the doing (with whatever motivation we can muster), is a act of obedience.

Your fellow straggler in motherhood and faith,

Molly

Lucy said...

I want you to write about Luke sellin his underwear too! It's not like Jenny hasn't told me the story (she tried to tell it again to me today), but I want to hear it from your point of view.

I can't offer to take you to coffee, though!

your god-cousin

Ser said...

Ooh, god-cousin, then you could re-tell the underwear story on your blog, from your point of view, reflecting on the differences in our versions of the story and what these differences say about us.

Okay, I'm being totally silly. It is way past my bedtime.

But thanks for the comments, everyone. I really enjoy getting feedback, as it motivates me to write, which I always enjoy when I do it.

I'll try to write about the underwear.

Ser