31 October 2008

A Sojourner's Story

For those of you who are interested in reading a condensed version of the spiritual journey I've made over the last 4 years, here it is. (I admit that I had to use this for part of a grad school application, but none-the-less, it covers the basics. Just don't pay attention to the pieces that are obviously geared toward the admissions committee. : ) 
At any rate, I thought it would be a nice record to have...

Cemented in my convictions and ready to change the world, I placed my sights on law school and headed for New York City. I had a plan: work hard, study relentlessly, and get a good job. After all, is that not what my family had ingrained in my thinking since my earliest ability to conceptualize a career? Fleeing the familiarity of farm-life, I set off to pursue the power and wealth that only the city could bring. Having formulated a master plan for my life, I thought I was set. However, as Robert Frost once articulated, I did not yet know, “how way leads on to way.”

That was five years ago. Seeing my own naivety, I cannot help but laugh a bit as I think back to the plan I had envisioned for my future. As the story goes, I did make it to New York City where I began a program of studies geared to prepare me for law school. Though little did I know, that path would soon lead me on to another “way” I had not anticipated.

After spending three semesters studying in New York, I was accepted—on a short-term basis—to study at the University of Oxford. Having taken a class on the basics of historical theology during my first year of college, I decided to use my time at Oxford to take an in-depth look at Church history. The truth was that the historical theology class I had taken shook up my Protestant understanding of Christianity. I had to make the decision to investigate my faith or risk losing it altogether.

Luggage in hand, I boarded a plane bound for London. I spent the next several months studying early Christian history under the direct tutelage of Sister Dr. Benedicta Ward. Having come face-to-face with the historicity surrounding the early Christian Church, I came back to the United Sates with a renewed sense of my need to find my place along the theological spectrum. Though unstated, I had earlier taken the time to investigate the tenants of both reformation and Catholic theology. Rejecting the lynchpins of reformation theology—namely, sola scriptura and sola fide—and unable to fully affirm the totality of Catholic dogma, I began to wonder where I was supposed to fit within the world of Christianity. As God would see to it at that time, I was blessed to meet an Orthodox Christian who took to my questions about the Orthodox Faith.

Through the mystery of God’s grace and my pursuit of Orthodox theology, I came to realize that Orthodoxy was, without a doubt, my spiritual home. Almost three years after first beginning to question the Protestant world from which I came, I was baptized and chrismated in to the “One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.” Glory to God!

Though I anticipated that the road I set out on five years ago when I left my hometown would lead me to a high-powered career in law, it has actually led me into a deeper, more complete faith in Christ. Moreover, as my journey has continued, my love for theological studies has been confirmed time and time again. Although I finished my undergraduate degree in International Studies, my extra time since returning from Oxford has been largely spent on my personal and academic interests surrounding Orthodox theology and spirituality.

Since coming to Orthodoxy, I have been incredibly active in my own parish as well as in the life of The Brotherhood of St. George Monastery here in Denver. Over the past year-and-a-half, in addition to having had the blessing of serving in the parish bookstore, I have been blessed to be a part of the community outreach committee and a co-teacher for the senior high and fourth grade Sunday School classes.

As I have grown and developed in my faith through these involvements and others, my love and zeal for knowledge of The Church has grown as well. Having endeavored to share the truth and beauty of the Orthodox Faith with Sunday School students, parish inquirers, and even university students I have been invited to lecture to, it has become obvious that my passion and inner-calling are closely connected to the Church and Her history. It is a result of this realization that I now seek to continue my education in the M.T.S. program at Holy Cross. I can think of few things more meaningful and substantial than being the recipient of such treasured knowledge.

It is my hope to continue graduate studies after Holy Cross by pursuing a Ph.D in theology. Although I have a few ideas as to what area the topic of my eventual dissertation may fall in, I recognize that God, in His Providence, may lead me on to a new way yet unknown to me. By God’s grace, one day I, too, will work on a campus of higher education teaching the timeless beauty and history surrounding the Orthodox Christian Faith. With this direction in mind, Holy Cross is the institution I feel will best prepare me—both academically and spiritually—to continue on the journey Christ has set before me. 

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