...or click here....http://audioboo.fm/boos/469883-on-my-way-to-ihop
A Colorado omelette - That's what Father Gary ordered.
Me? I went with my favorite Swiss Cheese Omelette. Now, I have no idea what a Colorado Omellette is but I do know that food was not the primary reason for our get together. We were there to discuss spiritual matters - specifically, what obstacles there were for me to become Orthodox.
photo by Robert Rowe, used under the creative commons license. Check out more of his work at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rorowe/
I arrived early and waited outside the IHOP. I remember that I almost missed the exit on the parkwary and the words of Lavenna, a reader and commenterof of my blog, came to mind. "Remember, the closer you get, the more the demons will try to interfere. So beware of obstacles and keep pushing forward! Now had I missed the exit, I would have found the place alright but I think it would have put me out of sorts.Nice try, demons! Finally, Father Gary showed up and I noticed he was just sitting in the car but it turns out he was just finishing up a phone call. As he came out of the car, I noticed he had his collar on (looking like a Roman Catholic priest) and, of course, wearing black. He immediately embraced me and said, "Glory to Jesus Christ." I did not give the proper liturgical response (what is it, by the way?) and I commented on how he was "in uniform." He chuckled.
After we ordered, we got right down to it. I said I wanted to be Orthodox, believed it was the "right Church" but I would alienate my family, who showed no interest whatsoever. They were happy protestants. The funny thing is, I kinda knew what he was going to say. First of all, he wasn't going to tell me what to do. He said, it is possible for me to stay where I am since I am already in a "faith community" or it is possible that I become a catechumen. It all depends. It would be different if my family were not believers at all, then the choice would be clear. I must look after my salvation.
I went on to talk about my journey, on how I mistook a "call to the ministry" for a genuine desire to get closer to Christ. So I perused it within the "Church of the Nazarene" and longer ago within the Lutheran Church. Both times, my wife did not like the idea, only because she saw my life and how, it did not live up to what a minister ought to be. Both times, doors were shut, I think by the Mercy of God. So it is possible that my wife sees this "Orthodox thing" as just one more thing I am going through.
Father Gary encouraged me to talk with my wife about this and see where she stands. It just comes down to that. I know my wife. She will say, "Do what you want to do, you always do anyway." (Yes, I have acted unilaterally in the past) But I don't want it to be like that. I want her to understand that this is really, I believe, the path I need to take.
Father Gary and I also talked whether or not Bishop Michael would recognize my Roman Catholic Baptism. (I also was baptized in the Assembly of God -a believer's baptism). He believed my RC baptism would suffice. We also talked about the catechumen process. I told him I would be okay with years, if necessary as it was in the early church and, that, believe it or not, I was in no rush, as long as I knew I was on path to becoming Orthodox. He said, probably not that long. It depended upon my current knowledge. Fr Gary said, a long processes will not necessarily help me because, there is a sense that we are never really ready for Orthodoxy. There is always room for improvement. There will always be a struggle and, that is a good thing. Fr Gary says we would meet one on one, maybe go over a a tape series from the 1980's and that would be a good discussion starter. So while I am willing to go through instruction for years, it'll probably be considerably less than that.
We also discussed evangelism, we talked about his conversion, we talked about the Eagle project he is working on with his son right after this breakfast and Fr Gary offered to meet with my wife (along with his wife, too to make it less awkward) but I don't see a formal "meeting" happening. Perhaps I can invite Fr. Gary and his wife, along with Deacon Ken and his wife over to the house for some coffee and cake or something. (Although to get two clergy to get their calendar's synced might be difficult.)
It was a very good discussion and I am impressed with Fr Gary's pastoral care. He clearly is a shepherd to his flock. I also had been thinking "will we say grace before meals?" Well, as soon as our omlettes arrived, he said, "Let's give thanks" and he crossed himself (and I did too) and he offered a short prayer, almost protestant sounding, asking to bless the hands that prepared it, ect. I am glad we didn't chant a prayer. That might have been awkward. :)
We parted and I thanked him saying, "God willing, I will see you tonight at Vespers."
Speaking of Vespers, my 35th visit that evening was very good. The Icon project seems to be over and all the scaffolding is down. In fact, here is what the front looks like.
After Vespers, I did talk to Deacon Ken for a bit and he wanted to know how the meeting went. We spoke briefly about it and we also talked about his upcoming ordination. He is really getting excited about it. I told him I hoped I could be there for it. Ken said that would be great.
So, it was quite a day. I will keep you all informed and, please, keep me in your prayers.