For the past two years, Audra and I have been thinking and praying about our "next step" in life. We've felt (for longer than two years, to be sure), that something was going to happen -- at times it would seem I'd be going for a Masters of some kind, or we'd be moving to Kentucky to be nearer to her family, or...something.
I've always been a churchmouse, a theology buff -- now a "Geek Orthodox," as we're sometimes called -- someone who's always tried to serve the Church in some capacity since childhood. As a Baptist, I had been on youth mission trips, participated in ministry teams, and had led Bible studies and music at school and at church. I had gone to college -- as had Audra -- in order eventually to become a missionary. Orthodoxy disrupted those plans, to put it lightly; my new bride and I were still brand-new converts (I was just over a year in the faith, she not even six months in) and had to learn to live with this new faith. Plans to go abroad were put on hold as we taught school and she picked up an MLS. Add two daughters to the mix and the plate was full. Add to all this the fact that I had read the Treatise on the Priesthood by St. John Chrysostom (which scared the hell out of me), and I was ready to hang up plans for full-time service to the Church indefinitely.
About a year and a half ago, however, something...shifted in me, I suppose you could say. Before, when people would ask if I ever had plans to go to seminary, I would become physically uncomfortable and quickly change the subject. Yet now I was slowly beginning to feel what I can only describe as a light turning from red to yellow (a strange metaphor, but it's the only one I've ever been able to use that seems to do the trick) with regard to religious studies and possible ordination. I brought this up to my dear wife; the prospect of taking our two small daughters up to seminary and pursuing the life of a clergyman was not an easy one. But this is why I stand in awe of this woman; she -- the daughter of two charismatic ministers who've lived much of their life "without a net," sending her father on mission trip after mission trip with money from God-knows-where and doing what it took to get by otherwise -- simply shrugged and said, "All I need to know is that you're sure this is what God wants us to do. If so, I'll follow you wherever you think we should go." That said, I brought up the subject with my parish priest -- who had been hinting at this road for me himself, mostly just to give me a hard time because he knew I hated talking about it -- and he suggested I apply to St. Vladimir's as a second step.
Several letters of recommendation and a few essays later, I received a letter in the mail announcing my acceptance into the MDiv program for the Fall of 2009. We began in earnest to try and sell the house, as I dreaded the thought of renting out. God, apparently, wanted to start the "trust factor" a bit earlier than I'd anticipated, for we have wound up renting within the family (a much easier situation for me to swallow, given the inability to sell the house thus far) while the house will continue to show to potential buyers.
So...this blogger and his family will, by God's grace, be packing up as much of our things as we can fit into a small, New York apartment and, in the very near future, be moving to Crestwood, New York to begin studies at St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary -- classes will begin on August 31, 2009. This is a tremendous leap of faith for us, as money will be tight, relationships tested, and faith stretched for the next three years and, most likely, far beyond. Prayers are extremely coveted right now, more than anything else. If you would like to support the seminary in general or me in particular, please let me know.
So it begins. May it be blessed. Lord, have mercy.