objections, observance, and odd things

This week I notice first flowers granting spots of color to winter. The fig out back has plumpy bits atop its branches, promising green.

A friend of Tim's and mine is staying in Victoria's old room. We talk about this being temporary, but I'm thinking this friend, this man our age, may need an extended visit. I noticed the day he moved in that he has changed (I hadn't spoken with him in person for at least a year). He obviously has developed some sort of condition -- maybe neurological. When I brought up with him my concern that he's unable to form sentences correctly, he said he hadn't noticed; then later he described his sense of blame toward someone else for these frequent occurrences. Today (nearly two weeks in) I'm recognizing his behavior in some ways as that of a child. I wish to continue treating him as the adult he still is (being functional in most things), but I guess I'm writing this for my "blog bottle" because I know my post won't trouble him in his present state. Rather than following blogs, he's trying to stay afloat (whether consciously or unconsciously).

I have to admit, I prefer his personality now. He has become meeker and milder than the man I knew. But sometimes I have to shadow him and make sure he's not throwing garbage in the recycling bin. Will Tim and I convince him to see a doctor? We shall see.

Early Thursday I drove to appointments in Portland (and Vancouver, the one across the Columbia from Portland). Kimi fed me scrambled eggs in her and James' lovely new apartment. We three could have visited all day, if not for her work shift starting at 11:00 and my need to make it home.

Now I can fully picture the apartments of both of my children and their dear ones. This is important, despite our easy creation and posting of pictures. (By the way, my camera's kind of wonky at present and so is not my constant companion. The second picture in this post was taken by someone from my church.)

Back in June, observing life at Victoria, Alex, and Edmund's home, I pondered the difference between seeing the whole of a place and trying to piece it together via images. Pictures help me learn about certain spaces, but to truly understand them, to learn of them in fullness, I must enter and inhabit them as I can. This concept applies to other realities -- you probably know where I'm taking this...

When I first came to Orthodox services, I carried ideas about this church's "space" from my snapshot-like experiences with it, and (especially) from my lifetime of experience in church. I had put everything together and was settled on what the Orthodox "denomination" must look like. Then, just as on my first night in Victoria and Alex's real place, I began discovering differences. I began to gain the true perspective of life here.

At my daughter's apartment it was simple. I contrasted within myself what I had expected with what I saw. Easy. At St. John the Wonderworker Serbian Orthodox Church I began -- rather than with eager expectations -- with a set of assumptions which were objections. I objected to everything. Very difficult.

And yet, today I'm happy I came into this church with my objections. While, as I said in my last post, I have recognized myself as the criticizer (not so good), I have also recognized my friends and family's objections -- which I naturally shared, coming from them -- as granting me critical thinking skills (better). I would, therefore, approach an aspect of Orthodox practice, such as the central example of believing communion to be truly the body and blood of Jesus, with healthy objections (wait a minute; don't you know this sounds crazy to Protestants?).

I took on the project of observing this practice of particular beliefs, without dismissing my objections, but at the same time granting the Orthodox the benefit of the doubt, as though reading them in a book. Suspending my disbelief on many subjects (and on a few subjects, I still do), I began to enter and inhabit their actual spaces, seeking to truly understand them.


There's too much to write on what I've found so far regarding communion. There have been many interesting moments. One morning the words of the apostle Paul bubbled up in a new way: Paul wrote about there being two kinds of human bodies: the natural and the spiritual. I'd never before considered "receiving" Jesus' flesh and blood to be partaking of the as-yet-unseen-by-most reality of himself as spiritual. And yet this is what Jesus himself spoke of on the subject in John 6. How could I have missed this? How could I have never imagined that maybe one can interact with spiritual flesh and spiritual blood in a very unusual way.

Well, of course it was because I hadn't yet dwelt in a place where they do business with the possibility, where they believe this is the understanding the first Christians inhabited as they studied and reflected on Christ's teachings.

I can't come close to saying I fully picture or understand the Orthodox Church yet, but living in it is becoming my life. Even when I'm startled by unexpected revelations: I haven't been speaking complete sentences; I'm in many ways a child; I need with all my being a hospital, a haven, and a home.

Comments

Fresca said…
For me, the physicality of communion is important, whether that's visiting a loved one's home or somehow participating in spiritual realities (art, religion, whatever).

James and Kimi look so happy! Nice to see.

Sounds like your friend may have some problems, and it's good he has friends like you an Tim who at least will try to help him (even if he doesn't want to explore his neurological state).

But--not to be flippant---even with a healthy brain, I admit I get befuddled by all the recycling options!
Some restaurants here have four different bins you are supposed to sort your stuff into.
deanna said…
I get it, Fresca, about the recycling at restaurants. Complex sorting sometimes. And you know how, once you've noticed someone else's possible "condition", you start to see pieces of evidence in yourself for the same thing? Happening every day to me. I'm glad Tim is around to corroborate what I suspect.

If we'd been around this friend every day the past few years, we might not have noticed his drastic change. I pondered whether or not to say anything, finally deciding if our places were reversed I'd want someone to mention it. Also, though, as I wouldn't wish to be coerced into doing anything about someone else's concern for me, I don't wish to push him any which way. As long as he doesn't eat my almond butter, we're good.