by David Trace
I first became exposed to Orthodoxy as an undergraduate over twenty years ago.
I was taking a Russian language course and was told that a local Orthodox parish had a Russian festival. The professor recommended it. To my knowledge she was not Orthodox. I went and purchased my first icon. Each year I returned to experience the culture, never visiting the church. As I continued as a European History student, the Church continually presented itself to me. But I was not ready. Eventually I married in the Lutheran church and grew in the Protestant faith.
The first Orthodox book I read, The Orthodox Church by Metropolitan Kallistos, was recommended by my Lutheran pastor who thought the “true” church was somewhere between Orthodoxy and Lutheranism. He’s still there. I suffered a divorce and eventually met an Episcopalian woman who introduced me to her faith. Not wishing to separate my new family, I attended church with her. Eventually I decided to become Episcopalian and desired to become a priest. Then life fell apart in the Episcopal church. The hierarchy started disavowing miracles and we became disenchanted.
We tried attending Evangelical churches but knew something was missing. Then the Russian festival came up again. We attended with my mother in law and bought some books. We eventually attended liturgy.
It was the beauty and otherworldliness of liturgy that kept us going. We began as catechumens and my mother in law, myself, my wife and four children were chrismated. That was eight years ago. Since then I have been tonsured a Reader. I still love the beauty of Orthodox prayer and worship.
I cannot imagine any other existence.