This young man was studying for a Master's Degree in Religious Education. At a nearby catholic institution of higher learning. He was in a quandary. For when he compared the tenets and scaffolding of the roman church to those of the eastern church, he found the former full of such conflicting doctrines that he was at a loss for how to present them in succinct and convincing form. Even to himself! And this, of course, was the subject of his studies, his future career as an educator. On the other hand, he found Orthodoxy simple and coherent in terms of both his own understanding and his ability to present and explain. I believe he was doing a paper on this - to make matters more pressing. A stark comparison. Several times he made this clear to me. Along with his dilemma. What to do?
Now at the time I was a mere babe within Orthodoxy. Whereas now I might be considered a toddler, I suppose. At 67. But his words and his conviction have stayed with me. I am saddened at his departure. I might have learned a great deal more from this young man. Torn between communions. Torn as a husband. And father. And future teacher. One of life's mysteries is to lose touch with people. And maybe never know.... (One can only imagine how his dilemma has been magnified by recent events.)
God works in mysterious ways. It's evident in scripture. It's evident in one's own life. So much of the spiritual path occurs in darkness. The daily humdrum. But every once in a while things fall together. And when that happens it seems like an illumination across one's life, across scripture - into the heart of Holy Mystery. Like a glimmer of certainty. Like a sign or a mark that yes, this is the path. And yes, the same path whose markers have been glimpsed before. Such an event discloses meaning - personal meaning for one's life, together with cosmic meaning - Life as inner and outer. A rapid succession of insights as more and more falls into place. A sense of God's Guiding Presence. Across a lifetime. Across so many dimensions.
One book has clarified this. And I've hardly started it. A book on Origin, the early Christian writer. Spirit and Fire. His method of biblical theology so familiar. So close to my own inclinations. Even his themes as set out by von Balthasar. And the astonishing connection to themes and writers we studied in college. During the time of Vatican II. Resurfacing in the past few years through my new connections to Orthodoxy. But also evident in Cistercian writers influenced by Orthodoxy. Or converted to Orthodoxy. The confluence of authentic catholic spirituality (in the widest and deepest sense). This book's introduction speaking of tents and wells - images I've used in past and recent posts. Origin's method of asking questions on the basis of anomalies, then searching scripture guided by the rule of faith, so in tune with my own approach.
It's like finding an archeological site and recognizing your own deepest yearnings mapped out already long ago. Waiting to be rediscovered. Laid out like a kind of blueprint for spiritual writings read and pondered over the years.
It's kind of scary when this happens. "Holy Fear" a man of holiness used to tell me. For my signpost signals: Go ahead. You're on the right path. I am with you. Do not fear.