~ St. Francis de Sales
It has been a long time since I last wrote a post on my blog. In part, my silence has been the natural product of a busy life in an even busier city. The other part is that I had been unsure of what to write. The "muse," so to speak, had taken a bit of a hiatus.
In two and a half weeks, my Husband and I will be leaving all behind and moving to the Middle East. We have had more than a year with which to prepare ourselves for this great adventure, yet only recently has the reality truly hit.
Our one-way business class tickets have been booked via the university's travel agency. My Husband and I are scheduled to look at more permanent housing the day after our arrival. A professional moving company recently packed up the few belongings-- books, artwork, and my Husband's office items-- that will find itself on a longboat to China... well, almost... and back again in our possession on the other side of the world. Last, our beloved Pepper will soon become the honored house guest of our family for a few weeks, until such a time as his little fuzzy self can be transported abroad.
A few days ago, I sat on the steps of St. Patrick's Cathedral and watched the world continue on through a mist of rain. Later, I took a long walk through the ever beautiful Central Park, enjoying its scenery and breathing in the earthy scent of late spring blossoms. Throughout the day, I reflected upon this past year and all of the ways life has shifted, changed, and has come full-circle.
When my Husband and I moved last summer for our transitional year in New York City, it became my goal to take this time to work on myself. I hoped to overcome my abuse-related fears and phobias as well as to focus on deepening my spiritual life. Not in my wildest dreams could I have imagined the various ways in which God has worked to fulfill these noble goals. It has been a beautiful journey. Now, on the other side of it all, I stand in awe and give praise to the One who works all things for good (Rom 8:28).
I have overcome a great deal in a short amount of time. My germaphobia has all but ceased, I have faced my great fear of being home alone while my husband was away on work-related trips several times, and my relationship with God has deepened as never before.
One of the things that has shaped my life the most has been an embracing of Eastern Catholic spirituality. I had first been exposed to the Eastern Rites of the Catholic faith around the time of my conversion to Catholicism, via a friend who was also converting, but to a byzantine rite. Then came my Husband and our wedding that took place in the traditional Maronite Rite of Crowning. I became fond of the Maronites but, at the same time, that particular rite never felt like "home."
My Eastern Catholic journey truly began last year, when I made a short, silent spiritual retreat with an order of hermit nuns whose way of life is very much an "East meets West" sort of outlook. The literature they provided, along with their byzantine style Liturgy of the Hours, prayers, and use of iconography spoke to my heart in a most profound way. When I returned home, I began to work with an Eastern-rite novice friend of ours who lived at a local monastery. He taught me the "Jesus Prayer" and the beauty of praying with my whole being: complete with icons, prostrations mental prayer as well as vocal prayer, and communicating with God with the very breath of my soul. I soon fell in love with icons and the byzantine Divine Liturgy.
Over the past year, God has been faithful in continuing to nurture the seed He had sown in my soul. Although my Husband and I registered at a Latin Mass parish upon relocation to the city, we soon found ourselves parishioners in a small, precious Eastern parish community. Through our monk friend mentioned above, we were acquainted with an Eastern-rite deacon and I began to work with him as my temporary Spiritual Director. The past months have been filled with an abundance of wealth: Eastern prayers, Liturgies, writings of the Eastern Saints, the Eastern way of life, and so much more!
It has been interesting to see the Hand of God at work. He has been preparing my Husband and me for a holy future since well before our marriage, the details of which I must be silent about for now, but suffice it to say that the longings of our hearts for a life spent dedicated to the Lord's holy service shall be fulfilled in His perfect way and in His perfect timing. Our moving to the Middle East is certainly no coincidence. It is simply one more step in His master plan. :-)
Life has never been more beautiful... and the best is yet to be!
I pray that you all have been similarly blessed in my absence. It my most fervent hope that you may continue to grow in grace and in holiness, fulfilling day by day the holy work for which God has purposed your life.
Today, I end this post as a "Traditional Wife" living as an anomaly in Western Culture, but very soon I shall write to you once again, at home and at peace, and as just one of many traditional wives in the Middle East.
God bless you,