“It is right and inevitable that we should be much concerned about the salvation of those we love. But we must be careful not to expect or demand that their salvation should conform to some ready-made pattern of our own. Some Protestant sects have gone very wrong about this. They have a whole programme of conversion etc. marked out, the same for everyone, and will not believe that anyone can be saved who doesn’t go through it “just so.” But (see my last chapter in Problem of Pain) God has His own way with each soul. There is no evidence that St. John underwent the same kind of “conversion” as St. Paul.” Page 446, Letter to “Mrs Ashton” 2 February 1955 CS Lewis
“Well, let’s go on disagreeing but don’t let us judge. What doesn’t suit us may suit possible converts of a different type.
My model here is the behaviour of the congregation at a “Russian Orthodox” service, where some sit, some lie on their faces, some stand, some kneel, some walk about and no one takes the slightest notice of what anyone else is doing. That is good sense, good manners, and good Christianity. “Mind one’s own business” is a good rule in religion as in other things…” page 454, Letter to “Mrs. Ashton” 13 March 1955 CS Lewis
These quotations were like the honey I returned to this week, nourishing me. Of course, about the latter quotation, as I am Orthodox I know that unfortunately we are not always that good in church. Converts and cradles (those who grew up in the Orthodox church) are different and I find, as a convert, that there are expectations by those who are ethnically Orthodox that are cultural. When I started wearing (it took me a good while to feel comfortable in my own skin at my current church, which is my home, is becoming my blood and that is one of the largest centres of my life) my head covering (one is from k. francis; she gave me one of the greatest treasures of my life; the other is from my friend Amy and it is white, a chrismation gift) a lovely older member of the parish asked me who had died. I had not idea that in some places one wears this to symbolize/show grief. A small example; yet it is very freeing to be in a church where one is not judged by what they wear (head covering is fully a personal choice, which I also firmly believe in—I would NEVER expect it of another) and is loved.
I often, it seems, forget that I am loved, or rather that I am loveable. My church is good for me that way-they love but without overwhelming or seeking to make someone to be identical to themselves.
I think it can be a danger of any person, include those of us who are orthodox, to make expectations of another. The great thing though is that everyone is different. Even those who convert to the Orthodox Church – their reasons for coming to the church and for converting are unique. We were laughing at my “reason” for first coming to St. Herman’s. Why did I go those first two times? Simple! I did not have a ride to my church. Yep. No inward searching, no looking for something better (though I should have been looking, but I did not know there was anything to find), no discovering Orthodoxy first through literature. God even kept it from me that some of my closest friends were looking into the Orthodox Church. So there I was-I came in Lent and was overwhelmed but curious-the liturgy made a big impact on me. And then I came again on Labour Day and watched and read the first page of courage to pray. I was at a Labour Day gathering at Kurt and Victoria’s – I came with Phil and Shannon—and I read that first page on their couch and realized, right then and there that I had found the book I was looking for all my life.
And so it began. By October 4 of that year I was telling my cousin Bryan all about it as I was in Michigan for my wonderful beautiful most loved sister’s wedding. And I was made a catechumen late that following February and was chrismated, at my Antiochian church in Michigan in early August, almost a year since that Labour Day weekend. (I have moved a lot as I was a student and have belonged to 4 churches).
It was three years ago last Friday that I became a catechumen at St. Herman’s! It was one of the happiest days of my life – I remember Seraphim noting how big my smile was and I remember RW telling me how I appeared, rushing in the doors because I was late for becoming a catechumen, as there was miscommunication with my ride!
Glory to God!