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Epiphany August 20, 2008

Posted by Justin Farr in The Journey.
4 comments

I want to leave the Church (essentially, though I cannot technically leave something that I am not in) for love. Right? I want to leave the Church for the one thing I want more than anything.

And I have come to the realization that even outside of the Church, I cannot have it. I cannot have the simple, normal, conservative, monogamous homosexual relationship I want. It’s pretty much unheard of in the gay world. I’ve now realized this.

The following three pictures are examples of what I want that I cannot never never ever have:

But if I get what I want, if I get that, the one thing I want more than anything, the one thing I cry myself to sleep at night over… there’s nothing to prohibit this:

Everything comes unglued. The lines of acceptability become invisible. Everything becomes permissible.

If I say that my fallen desires are permissible, there is nothing to prohibit the fallen desires of others from being acceptable. Everything just…. isn’t right… outside of the Church. There is no life outside of God. There are no relative truths. There is one Truth. I’ve decided to continue seeking the Church, to continue craving love, to continue my unhappiness, to continue failing to smother my desires to love, to continue the pillow cries, to continue with the hurt. Why? Because, dammit, I know it’s right. And coming to this realization is something that’s a whole hell of a lot to swallow. But, my God, the first two pictures hurt me so much. I desire that so bad. I want to be in that love and grow old with the love of my life.

But I’m going to try to struggle against that.

God help me.

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Weird Experience at Vespers August 14, 2008

Posted by Justin Farr in The Journey.
2 comments

Neither the tomb, nor death, could hold the Theotokos, who is constant in prayer and our firm hope in her itnercession. For being the Mother of Life, she was translated to life by the One who dwelt in her virginal womb!

I managed to make it to the Vespers of the Dormition of our Most Holy Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary.

It was a wierd experience. I have never quite felt anything like it. I went reluctantly in the first place, and I arrived and my mind was not focused on the Liturgy. As time passed, however, the weird feelings began. Now and again I would well up with tears, feeling as if I all the tears I had inside of me would pour forth from my eyes as I prostrated myself before God. Then the feeling subsided, and the tears that had come forth into my eyes retreated. This happened several times. Sometimes I would feel bored, and then just as suddenly I would have this intense desire to just bow as low as I could before God. For most of the service, I felt both completely in communion with God and completely abandonded and gone away from Him. I felt as if I could just surrender myself, and fall down, but instead of hitting the floor, I would be consumed by God, as if God were a giant cloud, and I could fall down right then and there and be immersed in this cloud, immersed in God, forever being embraced by Him. Then other times it seemed that if I fell, I would just fall on the hard floor. I was keenly aware of God’s presence and just as much aware of how far away from God I was.

And so these feelings continued, this weird sensation of being swallowed whole by God if I would just take one more step, surrender myself and let myself fall, accompanied with the thoughts that if I fell, I would hit the floor and not be consumed and immersed into God Himself.

It was beautiful, though. The darkness. The dim candle lights illuminated the faces of icons. The incense swirling all about. One could be fully immersed in this, smelling the incense, seeing the illumined icons in the dim light, and hearing the small choir sing hymns as if angels had descended upon them from Heaven.

I’ve been struck down with my desire to fall in love, which I am forbidden by the Church to do so because I am gay. These desires have haunted me the past few days, whereas I previously was keeping my prayer rule well until it started one night with, “I am tired. God will understand if I do not pray tonight.”

I keenly feel God sustaining me. Were He to cease doing so, I am very much aware that I would collapse into sheer nothingness. I know that it is God that holds me from plummeting into the abyss. One step forward, and I can be consumed by God, fully immersed and in communion with Him. Or so I think. I don’t really know. It’s a weird feeling that I have never previously experience, and I am unsure of how to act.

I think I’ll go read Twilight now.

The Reality of God August 7, 2008

Posted by Justin Farr in The Journey.
1 comment so far

“This life has been given to you for repentance, do not waste it in vain pursuits.”
– St. Isaac the Syrian

My zeal for Christ has vanished in a puff of smoke. The wind has picked it up and carried it to a distant and foreign land. I have started my journey to retrieve that zeal, but I am still not far off from where I began. I have yet to fully traverse the harsh lands between here and there. I have barely made it out of the front yard, though the journey thus far seems as if miles have passed beneath my feet. I used to love praying. I prayed with exceeding gladness. I accepted life’s circumstances and my workload with joy. I loved God, and I loved everyone around me, living icons of God.

I will be a catechumen soon. I will be a catechumen soon. I just need to pause so that I am able to fully soak that in. I’m not sure it has fully hit me yet. I just now realize how much better off a person is under persecution. Some of my old zeal may have indeed been from the dreaded “convertitis”, but now I believe that a lot of it was because of my persecution from my mother and family. My mom used to depsise Orthodox Christianity. I remember when driving by the local Greek church brought elation to my heart. And O! how my soul danced with joy when I made the journey inside an Orthodox church! Just a mere look inside after school rewarded astounding joy.

I starkly remember the time. I was hot and sweaty from making the trek to the church after school in secret. I had been there a few times before and no one was there. This time, however, a few people were baking for the upcoming GreekFest. She let me into the church. I stepped inside, opening the heavy door. My breath seemed so loud. I was instantly aware of God and all His saints surrounding me. Icons, truly windows into Heaven, were everywhere. Candles were burning. And there was this beautiful smell that took be straight to Heaven (incense, I later discovered). I lit a candle, and I prayed, and I was granted the gift of tears. They poured down my cheeks, caressing my face. I prayed for everyone, I prayed for myself, such a wretched sinner, I praised God for His love, I cried. I went into the nave next, overwhelmed by the beauty of the stained glass icons. I advanced further inside the nave to find beautiful mosaic icons, and a giant dome of an icon of Christ looking down upon me. I was aware of His presence. The iconostasis struck me with its beauty. I walked around the church in awe and thanksgiving to God before sitting in a pew and praying the Jesus Prayer.

I counted such a brief few moments as a tremendous blessing.

Then I would sneak to the church Sunday mornings, trying to understand what was going on and trying to get the English translation of all the Greek. I counted that as a rich blessing, too.

All the while I was still under persecution. Mom abhorred Holy Orthodoxy, and my visits to the church were covered in lies of biking and nature trails.

Now I go to church with permission from my mother. She has even went with me this past Sunday. Though she was only interested in seeing what I see (which she didn’t), she still lets me go. I am now allowed to talk to priests and monks. I have my icon corner in my room without any qualm. I have an Orthodox Study Bible my mom knows about. It is only in this time, under acceptance and away from persecution, that I have become lax in my prayer discipline, and my particular zeal for God has been carried off by the wind.

Have I really even thanked God for these blessings? No. I even fell into a short despair when mom “got nothing” out of the Divine Liturgy. I didn’t thank God for bringing her to church!

God, Orthodoxy, has become routine. Normal.

But my love for God is still out there, somewhere. I still acknowledge the world’s vanity. I still go to church. I still pray for roadkill and pray when I hear an ambulance hurry by. I remember the other day I saw a cricket on the sidewalk as I was going out to my car. It looked like it had been stepped on (perhaps by me, God forbid). It was hurt, in pain, struggling to move. It’s legs were twisted in funky ways and it had a wound where guts oozed out. But it was still alive. I couldn’t bear to have it live, and I couldn’t stand it to kill it. But I killed it to put it out of its misery, and I thought about that cricket all night long. Creation is the way it is because of us, because of me. Just as Jesus raised up humanity, so must humanity raise up Creation where we caused it to fall. This can only be done in faith, love, and the fear of God.

I seek that love. I want that love. I’ve tasted that love. I want to share with others that love. In 4 days I will be entering my senior year in high school. It is a unique time in my life. Never again will I be surrounded by so many people. Never again will I have the opportunity to love and witness to such a large crowd.

As the reality of officially beginning my catechism looms upon me after two long years, so does the reality of God and of my sinfulness smack me square in the face. God is a reality. My sinfulness is a reality. Eternity is a reality. This isn’t a game. This isn’t just an idea or some fanciful wishing. It is all real. God is an inescapable reality. I really need to get going. My love for God is way out there somewhere. God is waiting on me to find Him, though I must first pass over the harsh landscape between He and I. He is guiding me, but so often I refuse His hand.

I sing of the Fountain of Immortality each Sunday as I watch the parishioners receive the true Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ. I yearn to taste it. I long to have a drink from the Fountain. How can I even conceive of approaching the Chalice without first loving God and loving my neighbor as myself?

I keep saying “Tomorrow.” But tomorrow never comes. It is always a day away. I suppose I will truly discover my longing for God tonight,  whether I pray, like I should, or if I will continue telling myself “Tomorrow is when I shall commence theosis.”

Lord Jesus, have mercy!

Yearning for a Savior August 4, 2008

Posted by Justin Farr in The Journey.
1 comment so far

Poor human reason, when it trusts in itself, substitutes the strangest absurdities for the highest divine concepts. – St. John Chrysostom

Christ has ruined everything I used to hold dear. Christ has trampled down on every notion I previously held close to my heart that society had given me as good. I cannot even go to the movies nowadays without seeing nothing but Christ (or the lack thereof) in it!

Last night I went to see The Dark Knight, the new Batman movie. I viewed the entirety of the movie as nothing but people earnestly longing for a savior they can never find in the people they turn to. The city of Gotham would not be so bad if they would all turn to Jesus Christ. The people of the city need not look towards a superhero or a politician for salvation. They will not find it! They should turn their attention to the Lord Christ. There they will find the salvation they so desperately crave. There is no superhero but our true Savior, Jesus Christ! Why look up toward someone who kills in the name of good? A true hero would get down on his knees in the midst of it all and pray to God!

So these are the thoughts that largely consumed me as I watched the movie. I would do well to pay attention to such thoughts and put them to use in my own life.

Christ, wretched sinner though I am, has gifted me with His grace. Everything I used to love and worship I now find vain. Why pursue such frivolous cares? Why worry about the things I have? The clothes I wear? How financially well off I am? These things do not matter in the slightest! It will all pass away! Why put focus on vanity? On temporal things? I can no longer buy new things, new clothes, go to the movies, etc. without realizing how unnecessary it all is!

I am still very worldly and very vain. At least, however, I realize that what I do is wrong and is damaging my soul. Perhaps God will grant me the strength to overcome such disgusting vanity. Just as Gotham yearns for a savior, so do I yearn for the Savior.

Lord, have mercy!