Today is one of those days where I feel like I’m pretending to be Orthodox. I’m crossing myself, praying ”Lord have mercy” and preparing for pre-sanctified liturgy tonight, but feeling very Protestant. Oh, not the Protestant horror at the Church’s assertion that the elements are truly the most precious body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and no longer taken aback by the icons, the incense and such, but more that it feels like I’m play-acting. I’m familiar with this feeling, which I have felt for many years at times when it felt odd to be doing adult things. I have often felt that the adult task required (usually involving the Department of Motor Vehicles) was a task for a real adult—my father, perhaps. It felt odd being the one there in the grown-up role.
But while I shrug off the other times when it felt odd that I was the adult, or the mother, or the whatever, when I feel like I can’t possibly be the Orthodox person, I wonder if perhaps I’m not. Not really, anyway. Can you be Orthodox and still feel odd crossing yourself? Still sometimes be a bit startled upon seeing the icon corner? Still have to remind myself to go to confession? The answer is yes, of course. It is the being and the doing that make one so, not the feeling.
Just as my adult role is based upon my having reached a legal age and getting to deal with such things as DMV, taxes, banking and flat tires, irrespective to how I see myself or whether I feel like doing those things, so too, being Orthodox is a matter of having been chrismated into the church, of observing Orthodox fasts and feasts, of praying in an Orthodox manner, and of striving to understand Scripture in an Orthodox way. It is taking part in the sacraments of the Church, and in doing life as a community, for better or worse, that makes one Orthodox or not. Or so it seems to me.