Tuesday, May 16, 2006

boundaries, freedom and a funeral

Tonight I went to a funeral.

Or let's be honest: the tail end of a funeral. For a man I've spoken with a few times, who was wise and energetic and kind and brilliant, a man of renown and honor. I'd never attended an Orthodox funeral, and I can't say I've attended much of one now, arriving as late as I did.

I wasn't late because I was unaware of when it started. I left work fifteen minutes before it began. I came home. Had 2 1/2 slices of toast, an orange, a pickle, checked my email. I needed groceries (I still do), yet the fact of the funeral sat with me. It would be right to go, even late. I'm late to everything anyway.

And so I went.

My interaction with the world of seminary has always confused me. If the discussion is my work, I have no uncertainty. But when the question asked is what larger role it plays, or I play in it, I lose perspective. I gaze elsewhere, feel both confined and distanced. I have been looking further away lately. The events and happenings of the school seem remote: things that happen on a wooden stage, dramas that draw no blood or tears.

I think, perhaps wrongly, this isn't my life.
But tonight I stepped outside of the invisible boundaries I've constructed and into a story of faith, of a particular life and vocation. A story not confined, but free. And his story is part of a larger story--a narrative, a cloud of witnesses--in which my life too plays a small part.
As I kissed the body of Dr Pelikan I asked his prayers for us. Boundaries mean little to those who are free.

For now, perhaps, this is my life.


Julia said...

I like this post, Amber. I wish I could have been there too...one of those periodic eschaton moments that seems more likely to happen at the seminary than elsewhere in North American Orthodoxy land...and makes enduring the worst of the seminary worth it. Also a funny story: Right after my chrismation at Three Hierarchs, I turned around and the first person to bewilder me with a hardy kiss of peace was none other than Jaroslav Pelikan, saying Iin a scratchy, exhuberent voice: "WELCOME TO THE FOLD!!!"

Nostalgia said...

Amber, darling! A great post!
"Boundaries mean little to those who are free." (I'd mentally add "free in the Holy Spirit").It can easily be my mantra!
Thus said: "Welcome to the fold!"
Yours as always,