I’ve started reading Frank Schaeffer’s “Dancing Alone: The Quest for Orthodox Faith in the Age of False Religion” and while I can relate to a lot of his coming to Orthodoxy story, I find myself challenged that I am living Protestant in the Orthodox Church. That is, the individualistic thinking and determination of a Protestant mindset has invaded how I try to live Orthodox. I decide for myself that it is okay to say my morning prayers while laying in bed instead of standing or kneeling before my icon wall. I decide for myself how much fasting I will or won’t do. I’m puzzled when people ask for Father’s blessing before doing an endeavor, in a way that proves to me that they will not proceed if Father does not give his blessing. I am baffled by the idea of asking permission to do things.
After all, I think, isn’t it clearly my choice whether to go visit a monastery or not? Isn’t it??? And yet I find that those who have been Orthodox for a long time, culturally as well as religiously, ask. They go for a blessing before travelling. Holy water (or “blessed water”) is taken on a daily basis. Blessed bread is wrapped and taken home to be shared with someone who could not attend liturgy or to be eaten throughout the week. Some worry about recycling to the point that they are almost paralyzed into inaction because they cannot determine if it is more wasteful to throw away the glass jar or to use enough water to rinse it clean for recycling. These are not the trivial matters that they appear. They are evidence of lives that are intent on living their faith, lives of people who struggle to redeem the time, redeem the physical world in which they live, to live humbly in obedience and righteousness.
I find myself saddened and sickened by how secular I have allowed myself to be. I read recently (I can’t remember where) that there is nothing that isn’t sacred, but there is sacred and defiled or desecrated. That’s mind-blowing, don’t you think? If everything is sacred, then I should be very conscious what I do with it.
So I am going to speak with Father about these matters, so that I can get some guidance in how to live a sacred life so that I do not desecrate the sacred. And to repent of my independence of thinking that I know best how to live an Orthodox life. I don’t.