Thanksgiving Transitions

Although the original post was deleted long ago, today marks the calendar day, twenty years ago, that I first began this blog. In the Russian Orthodox observance, today is the feast of St Katherine of Alexandria, a martyr who debated and defeated the philosophers who sought to turn her from Christ. (The Greek Orthodox will observe her feast tomorrow.) Being a philosophy student, I thought at the time it would be an auspicious day to begin the blog.

I was then (and would be) going through some significant transitions. I had left my seminary education over a desire to pursue life within the Orthodox Church (though I did eventually complete my master’s thesis). I had, after about a year of hemming and hawing, and after reading Ephesians 5-6, decided I would pursue the Orthodox Faith and decide to go wherever it would take me. It was my last gasp effort to find a Christian way of life. I began my PhD program (ancient philosophy and ethics), and would soon begin teaching my own classes in philosophy to undergraduates. I had begun working part-time at the university library where I lived. And, only a few short weeks later, I learned I was going to be a father, with our first child.

Twenty years later, to the day, I am going, and have gone, through other transitions.

Today, I have been Orthodox for fifteen and a half years. That is to say, since my chrismation. In my own view though, I became Orthodox in heart and mind when I stepped through the doors of All Saints parish on the Sunday of the Blind Man in 2002. Today my daughters are graduated from high school and have entered the adult world. I did not complete my PhD. In 2007, after beginning to form my dissertation committee and putting together my dissertation proposal, I left the program for full time work to support my family.

But today, I am in a new role with my employer (for whom I’ve worked nearly a decade now). I live nearly a thousand miles away in a different city. I have a dog. I have gone through the death of my mother, and the ends of relationships. My hair is grey. Or perhaps greyer. I had a little gray back then but was still pretty dark haired. Today I’m beginning to reach the all grey status. I’m establishing new work routines and new daily schedules. I’m writing again.

Today feels quite a bit like it did twenty years ago. I felt then I was “on the cusp” of new things. And I was. Certainly in the completely life transforming way fatherhood changes a man. But also in exploring the faith of the Orthodox Church. In developing my skills in philosophical thinking and writing. It was an incredibly exciting time.

I feel that same excitement again. It is a wonderful blessing.

There are of course things about which to be sorrowful. I miss my mother, who passed away in January. Especially at this time of year.

I think many children have treasure stores of memories of their mothers in particular when it comes to the holidays. And there were many wonderful traditions and ways of celebrating that my mother embodied. Yes, as an adult with my own views of things, I sometimes chafed at the way Mom attempted to stage manage and create what I at times critically thought of as a “Normal Rockwell” holiday. But through the filter of her death, I see beyond my own self-centered impatience and recognize the love she was expressing, and the gift of peace and joy she was attempting to create and provide for all of us. And of course, if I had the choice, I’d gladly place myself in the middle of that “Normal Rockwell” experience again.

I miss my daughters, terribly. I won’t go in to any details about those circumstances. But I dearly cherish all the memories I have of them. And I hope and long and pray for a future time of being with them again.

Other friendships and relationships have ended, or reached a place where what they once were they can no longer be again. There may still be a future ahead. But it will require change.

The sorrowful aspects of transition do, in the ways of grace, make the joyful aspects more joyful. So I am reveling in my new role at work, and the new schedule, and new seasons of life. I am finding so much joy again in writing. I am thankful for the transitions I’ve come through, and expectant about the ones to come.

May they be blessed.

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