Posted by: jamesthethickheaded | February 23, 2009


So I managed to go A distance… though obviously not THE distance…. and write for a year. I’ve learned a few things along the way. Mostly I’ve learned my limits… and the limits of the interest of others in what I have to say. Hmmmm. And while that ought to be depressing… it’s not.  And it’s not because the goal was less about audience and more about mission. The mission remains consistent with the original purpose of recording a journey into the Ancient Church… though now that we’re here… it sometimes to gets bogged down… especially when the lights go off.. and someone keeps flashing them. “Is it really time to go?” Perhaps.

But then building an audience… well… I think that’s something for the truly committed; the ones with an actual travel itinerary rather than those  folks like me whose intent was simply to get into the middle of the thing and see what comes next. So here I am, but I don’ t think I’m into the middle of it yet… at least I won’t be certain of that until I’m out the other side… which in truth, doesn’t find me pushing the “Eager” button  at the moment. I mean… like the old song says, I want to get to heaven, but not just yet.

So I’ll apologize to those who wished for something more significant… but a St. Silhouan in the BEFORE mode… I’m probably not. I’m sure any monk worth his salt would probably be excused for putting up that yellow police-line tape around me and shouting to passersby, “Keep it movin’ folks; nothing to see here – just another ordinary guy gettin’ it wrong; that’s right, just keep movin’ right on by. Thanks very much.”

One might suppose the mercy of God hides much of ourselves from each of us most of the time…  as befits the true humility of our station in life,  for otherwise, it might prove more than we could bear. And I hold to this rather than speculate that this blindness is the work of the evil one, for  looking at the humble nature of our gifts, I am only too certain that we have been more blessed than we know…. to not know or contrast these with a look at the coarseness that is equally close to us as well. Seeing just an edge ought to be enough to assure something of a desire to offer a similar mercy to others, that God might touch their hearts… or more likely, that through them He might at last touch ours…. and touch he has.

Yes, there are many wonders in the Christian life. Most are hidden from me, yet still I keep looking.  And amongst the ordinary things seen here… well… there is little surprise it should seem more than ordinary, or more than dismissable… as sometimes one hardly knows whether one is here or there. So in truth,  the fact that not many are curious about these things is no surprise but reflects the fact that  numbers really are not the goal.  Curiosity was not expected so much as correction… and there’s been scant  of that… which means less than it sounds, for much remains correctible indeed, and maybe our studied obscurity is indeed more vice than pretense to virtue.

Rather then, I think what it means is that few of the ordinary things in my limited travels warrant discussion, and the extraordinary seem beyond words either because there are none, or because a veil should remain as it does over any holy of holies. And it does remain not so much because it is indeed holy… but for fear that it might not be. In truth sometimes we know little of what we find  and there is circumspection at least in not burdening others with that which we cannot name in a helpful way.

Thus if there is one thing that keeps me keyboarding, it is the struggle to give voice to and search for the language that lifts the veil without compromising the vision…. either yours or mine. For as the book says at some point, the ability to give voice  and account of one’s faith without fear, without offense, without unjust over-statement or misleading understatement, but with invitation… or as reciprocation to another’s invitation… that seems much of my own motivation and search for understanding. Maybe that will come… and maybe it won’t.  At least for now it keeps me searching.

So for now, I’ll leave you with the thought that perhaps we’re each soda bottles… some are shaken up, others flat, and others just right and refreshing. And we don’t know which we are on a given day… but if you take the lid off, we’ll find out. So yes, in some respects this is a journey to a third world bottling plant where they drip that gooey stuff in, add some fizziness, maybe some flies or whatever “comes naturally” , turn up the pressure, and see what happens… because consistency is… well…. something for “the other guy” in a less colorfull place.


  1. Keep it up!

  2. Happy Bloggerversary James.

    The vision thing you talk about is compelling to me. I ‘see’ more than I ever used to. My spiritual big brother tells me this is the work of the Grace of the Holy Spirit. I trust his analysis much more than I trust my own seeing as he’s been a monk for 30 years and was blessed with the Great Schema 6 years ago yesterday.

    As for what I ‘see’ in myself, like you I observe quietly and give thanks based on the analysis of my spiritual father and big brother.

    This is the joyous blessing of having a spiritual father and the Orthodox Church. One does not need to depend on oneself to figure out what is going on. One dismisses it, confesses it/talks about it to the spiritual father/big brother and THEY give the guidance of whether one needs to pay attention or not.

    May God grant you a blessed Lenten journey to Pascha.

  3. Well, we don’t need any monks with salt and yellow tape to know that you got it badly wrong.

    Hey, I just come here for the humor, which seems in short supply on other Orthodox sites. But perhaps there is a good and holy reason for it. Maybe that has to do with monks and tapes, warning us to “keep moving” as you say.

    And how precisely, Mr. Thickheaded, does one give voice to anything with a … keyboard???

  4. Robert… thanks for visiting… the answer to your question is of course that I specialize in mixed metaphors. Once upon a time we used blenders… today… it’s Juicers. Gimme two horsepower, a couple of ice cubes… and we’ll have a bunch of rhetorical smoothies all day.

    In the cartoon world where I live… inanimate objects do indeed have voices. We usually don’t “dialog” unless one of us stubs his toe on the other… but we do have choice words. And lately I’ve been haunted by this old IBM keyboard at work I keep throwing away and it keeps coming back on to my desk. It’s beginning to scare me. Stephen King called it and they discussed movie rights… right there in front of me. But no… I was not “keyboarding” on it…. Dude’s got his own agent, a lawyer… and they’re talking about suing me. The nasty attorney used to be some sort of fried Dell Laptop from California… where else?

  5. you said: One might suppose the mercy of God hides much of ourselves from each of us most of the time… as befits the true humility of our station in life, for otherwise, it might prove more than we could bear.

    While I think you are spot on with this, I do wish He would give us a check-list of sorts.

    Happy Blogoversery. Didn’t I see you Sat. night at Vespers?? You disappeared again.

  6. Deb:

    Yeah… I’m with you. More like a “Do List”.

    Yep. Came to visit and hear the St. Vlad’s choir…. awesome. My favorite comments of the night:

    “They sure know their chops. Chopped right through…”
    “Yeah… wish our choir could wind it up that fast.”

    Hmmmm. I was sure impressed with the choir… and the turn out.

    Sorry to disappear… had a dinner date with the rocket scientist nephew and his (cough – “When are they – cough – hitchin’ up ?!!?” – cough cough)… girl friend. Would have like to have stayed. But life doesn’t slow down jus’ cuz you’re in the “Slow…. Geezin’ Zone.” Next time…

    In the meantime, give my best to Coy. Love to help him do the bread sometime.

  7. yes, a “to-do” list would be great… just not everything at once!

    I’ll ask Coy about the prosphora workshop again. He’s been sick and put out a APB for home prosphora makers last week.

  8. Wow…has it been a YEAR already??? Yikes. Well, nevertheless, many years, or many posts, whatever the Orthodox exclamation is for such a milestone.

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