And just like that, it’s already July.
The passage of time here doesn’t feel real. Simultaneously we’ve always been here, are just arriving, are about to leave.
A couple of days ago, we had a “family” meeting to check in with everyone about how the trip is going so far: what we’ve done, what needs work, encouragements, plans, concerns, etc. This was a great time because sometimes in a group this size, you’re not always aware of the little things going on with everyone else. Despite that it was wonderful to see how in tune everyone was with each other and with what we are looking to do with our time here.
In particular, I found it encouraging hearing about others’ interactions with several of the students we’ve had coming to our groups. A few of them have grown up in or around church but for various reasons no longer really follow it. They know scripture but can’t see the Orthodox church as home, don’t see the need for the sacraments, believe in a higher power but don’t want to define it. Yet they are continuing to take time out of their lives to join us for these discussions, and a few have expressed that it’s meaningful to them, that it’s giving them something to think about. A real hope of mine is to have them come to liturgies with us soon.
Sometimes in the middle of bible discussions, it’s hard to gauge what’s going on internally. There’s part of you that always fears you should be doing more, speaking more clearly, being more profound (No? Just me?). But an important thing I was struck by this week was what we studied in chapter four of St. Mark, with Christ’s parable of the sower. The condition of the earth has to be right to receive it. It has to be soft enough to foster roots that don’t die in the heat. It has to be cleared of thorns and things that choke it. All that is the struggle on our part, to prepare the earth of our hearts so that it can receive the word so and it can grow.
But equally important (especially for me in my struggle to learn to trust God) is to remember: the seed/word ultimately grows and brings life, fruit, by virtue of what it is. I don’t make the fruit. My struggle for results in mission work don’t create new or better Christians. The word, which Christ is always sowing, has life in itself, to deepen into the earth, to surge skyward, to bring forth fruit some 30, 60, 100. The Word is life giving, and no matter how I prepare the earth, it is still the Word that brings it to perfection. Keeping this in mind, I know that the studies of the scriptures with these young people contains the seeds of life and truth by virtue of the scripture itself. I am just an unworthy participant in Christ’s work of sowing.
We’ve had wonderful opportunities to show and share our faith while here. Please pray for continued courage and humility as we continue doing so this month!