As a child, oftentimes my parents taught me how to live our faith without ever speaking a single word. Their actions spoke volumes in the silence as we watched and learned by their side. As a parent now myself, I mimic these same unspoken lessons to my own children in hopes it will have the same effect on them.
My parents taught us that God is always the priority in our lives regardless of where we are in the world in relation to our home. I can only readily think of missing Liturgy on Sunday two times in my childhood. It happened so rarely that they stick out in my mind. The first was when our car wouldn’t start on a cold, winter morning in Boston. It had snowed quite a bit the night before – it seemed like a couple of feet of snow to me, but this is my childhood perspective. We all still wanted to go to church so we bundled up and started walking to an Antiochian parish less than a mile from our home. (We normally attended a Greek parish.) We only made it about five houses down from ours before our toes and fingertips became numb. The bitter, cold air seemed to penetrate down to our bones. My mom let out a sigh and said, “We’re not going to make it to church today. I’m sorry.” We turned around and quietly walked home. The second time was when I was a teenager and I wanted to sleep in that morning instead of get out of bed. I told my parents I was too sick to go to church. They let me stay home by myself and I slept. Later that day, my friends wanted me to go to the mall with them. Without a lecture or overt sternness, my parents told me, “If you’re too sick to go to church, then you’re too sick to go out with friends.” I never slept through church again.
Fast forward to the present. Our bags are packed. We’ve meticulously planned out our vacation. We know where we’re going, staying, visiting…and where we’re going to church on Sunday. My kids and husband are just as excited as myself when we pull into the parking lot of an Orthodox church in a foreign city, state, or country. It doesn’t matter where we are in the world, when we walk into an Orthodox church…it’s home. The smell of incense permeating the air instanteously invites you inside. The sound of hymns being sung beckons to you to sing along. The sight of the priest, icons, and people surrounding you confirms you’ve found a way to be together with those who are far away and participating in the Liturgy themselves.
Watch this video to visit some of the Orthodox churches my family has seen while traveling!
Posted by the Orthodox Christian Network. You can find the Orthodox Christian Network on Google+.