My journey to Orthodoxy is chronicled here, in which I also said I believed God led me here. Given the cancer, this has taken on deeper layers of meaning.
God led me here, back to Himself and His Church, and to His priest and my confessor, Fr John. If I am granted the time, I would like to develop a deeper relationship with Fr. Basil, Fr Dn Alex, and Fr Dn Mark. Because I am intensely introverted, I have thrown away the chance to meet and work with my brothers and sisters in Christ at my church, and Fr. John and Richard Nakles had helped me past that first wrung by asking me to run for parish council as treasurer. I will serve if it is God’s plan to let me live a while longer.
I owe special thanks to Christopher Reeves and Dr. Bob for allowing me to sing in the choir and chant at Vespers and Matins, and to Fr. Dn. Alex, for working with me to read the Epistle (and possibly future thanks to Dr. Bob for more of the same). Also, I thank the Finkes, who come also from Bloomington, and who have helped me become more comfortable in the parish, as have Willis and Michael. Karen and Gary hold a special place, and I hope and pray that Karen will be relieved of the darkness that burdens her. She is a bright, cheerful soul, and it hurts me to see her in pain.
I am grateful to Mark and Leslyn Radomsky for so warmly welcoming me, and responding (along with the Finkes) so quickly upon hearing of my cancer. I regret not knowing the Radomskys better, and hope I am given the chance, as warm and Christian as their response was to me. I would like the honor of knowing all of the Christians at my parish better, and if it is God’s plan for me to live a little longer, I will use that time to further develop relationships in Christian brotherhood with those at my parish. It is a warm and healthy parish, and I have sinfully wasted my opportunity to grow with it, among my fellow Orthodox Christians. I am sincerely sorry for that.
I also owe Richard Barrett, Fr Peter Jon Gillquist, and All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church in Bloomington my appreciation for their prayers.
To this day, I am most grateful for what Fr. John said: We don’t close doors. He has no way to really understand how much that means to me, an unworthy sinner.
I would like to see Fr. Alexander and Matushka Olga in the time I have left, but I don’t know that it’s possible. I really have not considered burial, and need to think long and hard about that. I want an Orthodox funeral. I’m just not sure where I want to be buried. With my family in Indiana? With my extended family in West Virginia, with perhaps monastic involvement, since the Hermitage of the Holy Cross is in Wayne, where my kin are? I don’t know. This is very sudden, and I have given cursory thought to these issues (you get to your fifties, especially if you’re the eldest alive in your family, and you think about them some, but you assume you have time time time and more time. I may. I may not. I don’t know yet. But the monastery option seems attractive, since I doubt it was coincidence that a Russian Orthodox hermitage settled so close to my family. Also, one of my extended family from there — and I hadn’t heard from any of them in well over thirty years — had just recently contacted me out of the blue, and wanted to re-establish contact, not just with us, but also his mother and the rest of the family.
Could all of this be coincidence?
I don’t know. Discerning God’s Hand in these questions has become one of my tasks. What does Christ want of me, and why does He send me these people, these links? Only prayer, mine, and others’, can answer that. I just wrote one of the hieromonks at the hermitage, and I plan to email Fr John (and Fr Basil, but I admit with some embarrassment that I do not have his email addy, or Fr Dn Mark’s, for that matter). God will tell me, in His own way and His own time.
One thing is clear. I cannot let the pain of this disease infect my soul. Rather, I must pray that God somehow purify my soul with the cancer, so that if I live, I may become a better follower of God the Son, and if I repose, I will be more worthy to rise again with my Christ at Resurrection.
Our father who art in heaven,
hallowed be Thy name.
Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done
on Earth, as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.