This is part 2 of a six part serious of blogposts on one family’s inspiring journey to the Orthodox faith.
There are many details to fill in today. I shared last time about visiting an Orthodox church over Labor day weekend of 2005. Vera, our searching daughter, was living at home but driving 60 miles to teach ESL at a university in Western , Ky. We were watching some programs on the Orthodox internet television around the end of August. She told me how much she would like to change jobs.
Vera was tired of teaching ESL. In the midst of our discussion, the phone rang. It was a friend of my brother. She had never met me or Vera. However, my brother told her about Vera’s training in ESL. She asked Vera if she would like to come to Murfreesboro, Tn., for a job interview. Immediately, Vera perked up. Her interest was renewed. She had heard that there was an Orthodox mission in Murfreesboro, so she was extremely excited.
That brings us back to our visit to the Orthodox Church in Franklin, Tn. Fr. Steven talked to us during coffee hour. He gave Faith a copy of The Orthodox Study Bible and told her that the mission church was part of this big church in Franklin. I had mentioned that Jim cried after the service. He got a chance to meet Fr. Gordon Walker , who was a key character from the book, Becoming Orthodox, A Journey to the Ancient Christian Faith, by Peter E. Gillquist. Gordon Walker had founded a church in Franklin.
Later, he was ordained a priest and his church became St. Ignatius Orthodox Church.. He was semi -retired but still participated in the services. Jim wept on his shoulder. It was a touching moment. For you see, Jim had always opposed any kind of liturgical service. I had gone to a liturgical church for nearly four years and left Jim at the Baptist church. He tried to persaude me how wrong I was the entire four years. So this was a gigantic step for my husband.
Vera was busy making an Orthodox notebook full of prayers she downloaded from the internet. We would often use some of those prayers to start or end our day. The three of us knew we could never turn back to the Evangelical world. We went with Vera to her job interview . Art read many of the articles in the back of the The Orthodox Study Bible, while we were waiting. Our discussions were full and rich on the ride home.
We continued visiting St. Ignatius through the end of September. We literally focused all of our extra time on the study of Orthodoxy. Then on Saturday , October the 8th, our lives took a different turn. It seemed like a normal day. I had spent a great part of it with my older daughter and my grandsons. Jim was home alone all morning. Everyone ate lunch at our home. Then Vera and Jim went shopping at second hand stores. I took a nap. We had waffles for supper. Our son came over wanting to talk with us about something on his mind. After he left, we prayed one particular evening prayer for the first time:
“O Christ, our God, who at all times and in every hour in heaven and on earth are worshiped and glorified; who are longsuffering, merciful and compassionate; who love the just and show mercy upon sinners; who call all to salvation through the promise of the good things to come; O Lord , in this hour receive our supplications and direct our lives according to Your commandments. Sanctify our souls, purify our bodies, correct our thoughts, cleanse our minds; deliver us from all tribulation, evil, and distress. Surround us with Your holy angels, so that guided and guarded by them, we may attain to the unity of the Faith and to the full knowledge of Your unapproachable glory. For You are blessed unto ages of ages, Amen.”
We also read Psalm 51. I cleared the table and got ready for bed. Jim was working on the computer. Suddenly, he yelled out very loud. Vera ran to check on him. He had collapsed. He seemed not to know who we were. We called 911. At the hospital, the Doctor whispered to me:
“His aorta has split. He probably won’t live. We will get him on a helicopter to Vanderbilt Medical Center. They will do all they can for him.”
The next post I will pull together Jim’s story along with the continuing of our journey.
Part Three will be published tomorrow.