An unworthy Deacon, named for the brother of God: James, striving to "work out his salvation with fear and trembling" within the Tradition (paradosis) of the Eastern Orthodox Faith. It is a strange and marvelous journey, and I am accompanied by the fourfold fruit of my fecundity. My wife, the Matushka or Diaconissa Sophia, is my beloved partner in the pursuit of Theosis, and she ranks me in every way.
We live in world that strives to the lengths of absurdity to avoid blaming itself for its problems. Everyone points the finger at someone else, foolishly believing in most cases that if someone else (whether that be an individual or a nation or whatever) would just leave them alone that all of their problems would be solved. Imagine the paradise that would naturally evolve in the Middle East if America and Israel would just go away? Or the wonders and growth of Russian Orthodoxy if the Catholics and Protestants would just stop proselytizing? Or the unfathomable economic strength of America if we’d stop outsourcing jobs and allowing illegal aliens through our borders? Or how succesful I’d be if that jerk of a coworker would stop sabotaging my efforts? Or how great my kids would be if the public schools were better?
I have lamented much here at Paradosis regarding my concerns about our society and culture and how it’s slow moral deterioration may poison my children. Oh how we seek for society to fix our ills; for the “village” (i.e. our government) to heal our wounds - as if in some way we could legislate ourselves into paradise. It’s funny how both the left and the right see our culture and our society as slipping into moral crisis...the left says we are ignoring the poor and the right says we are ignoring a host of other sins. And they bicker and argue and they bicker and argue and they bicker and argue. Do we really think a solution will come from within those contexts? As I lament the course of our society, do I really think that I could reverse the trends...but more importantly, even if I did, would it make a difference to my kids? Nope, and here’s why:
I would still be their Daddy. No one is going to screw my kids up more than my sinful self. I realized last night how much I have been missing the big point. John Kerry, George Bush, Terri Schaivo, the Pope, homosexual marriage, the Nous vs. the Mind etc etc are all little more than curiostiy shop displays in my mind right now. (Sorry to say so.) The worse things happening to my kids right now eminate from my own sinfulness: my impatience, my anger, my selfishness.
I worry about my kids because I don’t pray enough…not only for them, but for myself as well. I do not stand beside them enough, I do not play with them enough, I do not try and BE like them enough, I do not cherish them enough, and I do not love them enough. I have spent far too much time worrying about less important matters like politics, when the most important thing in the world I have been neglecting: the salvation of my children. The rooting of Holiness in them. What a change THAT would make in the world…all the humanitarian efforts in the world would pale in comparison.
I am a parent. Four lives sit at my feet and are looking for an example and guidance from me. God help them, and God help me. I know many of you parents out there have your shit together far better than I do and so this post may be meaningless to you…but for me, man I have really been blowing it. Parenthood is THE most important thing I will ever engage myself in and EVERYTHING (READ IT AGAIN: EVERYTHING) must take a backseat to this task I have been charged with. It is said that one of the things that makes the priesthood so burdensome and fearsome is that as a father-confessor you will stand in judgement beside your spiritual children. If that is true, I suspect it is even more true of biological fathers.
So, why should I be worrying so much about the world outside my house when I have not done everything I can to make the world INSIDE my house holy and peaceful?
This sounds like every parent, father *or* mother, I have ever known. My son and I were discussing parenthood not too long ago, and he was wondering if he would be a "good enough" father, once he was married and kids entered the picture. As I said to him, "When you hold that little person in your arms for the first time, two thoughts occur to you: One, this little miracle deserves no less than God Almighty as his parent; and Two, he's stuck with you. And you begin to be better than you ever thought possible, because nothing is too good for your son or daughter. And although you fail miserably at what you *know* they deserve, you're still the best parent they could have -- otherwise, God would not have sent them to you."