Thursday, September 21, 2006

weak, lazy, undisciplined...

I am home sick with a nasty cold. Krista is just now getting over it. I went in to work today, actually to a conference, and my boss generously sent me home. A much needed rest before I head down to southern Alberta next week: Red Deer, Calgary, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat.

I came across a passage today in The Journals of Father Alexander Schmemann that hit home. It is the entry for Monday, April 10, 1978. After describing what he describes as "sad parish struggles" here and there, he admits his temptations (he even calls himself "weak, lazy, and undisciplined." - that gives us some hope, eh?) But then he witnesses to what still holds it all together for him:

I feel no desire to fight. (Where? In the Russian daily paper?), only a desire to leave as far as possible. Not out of cowardice, but out of a conviction that it is impossible to even hint at what would be the goal of such a fight. To hint at the joy - mysterious, never loud; at the beauty and humility - secret, never showy; at the goodness, never extolling itself.

"Come to me and I will give you peace" - How can this be reconciled with a never ending, thunderous "we declare, we demand, we protest..."

As a result, I feel weak, lazy, undisciplined - I realize that, "who am I to talk?" I feel a kind of fear when faced with activism (of the young at the seminary) who passionately want to be pastors, to guide. It always seems to me that it's not not needed - for if a man would see what I call joy, or if a man would simply love Christ - just a little, would come to Him, nothing else would be needed. If not, nothing will help. All begins with a miracle, not with conversations. I feel tired of the noise and the petty intrigues that surround the Church, of the absence of breathing space, of silence, of rhythm, of all that is present in the Gospel. Maybe that is why I love an empty church, where the Church speaks through silence. I love it before the service and after the service. I love everything that usually seems to be "in between" (to walk on a sunny morning to work, to look at a sunset, to quietly sit awhile), that which may not be important, but which alone, it seems to me, is that chink through which a mysterious ray of light shines. Only in these instances do I feel alive, turned to God; only in them is there the beating of a completely "other" life. I felt it most acutely when standing on Second Avenue changing a tire in a garage. I contemplated people on the street who were going home from work with shopping bags; and earlier, a mother with two little boys, all three in poor but obviously festive clothes, all three lit up by the setting sun. Why do I like it so much? I, the most non-sentimental and indifferent man (L. said!), want to cry. Why do I know with such certitude that I am in contact with the "ultimate," that which gives total joy and faith, the rock against which all problems crash?


Blogger seraphim/seattle said...

I've read Fr Schmemann's Journals over and over, but for some reason cannot remember reading this entry. Thanks for quoting it... really speaks to me today.

9:25 PM  
Blogger Simply Victoria said...


1:10 PM  
Blogger * said...

Well said. Beautifully, in fact.

5:55 PM  
Blogger KP said...

Wow! did I ever resonate with this.

Am I ever glad I saw you today in the cowtown noodle house and was then inclined to check in.

Good to see you, if only briefly. And thanks for the blog.

3:56 PM  
Blogger kimberley said...

that was good to read.

6:04 PM  
Blogger Mira-cle said...

I hope you are feeling better! A nasty cold is hitting me now too, I can feel it coming on. Ick.

Check out Joel's blog:

He just moved to town and started coming to our Vespers and bible studies, and it turns out he and Matthew are old friends from Anglican church camp years ago! I though you should see his blog especially because he has Four Quartets as one of his only links...

1:37 AM  

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