America, the dark shadows of your internal clash have come to light.
You are distraught, angry and divided. You are clinging to fear like a child clutching their teddy bear at night. Your people are in conflict with themselves. Your outcasts have come to the polls in shouting numbers screaming: We are in pain. We have been left behind.
Even our Orthodox community stands in disarray, at odds with one another.
Do I have the answer to your woes? No. Unfortunately, I do not.
Do I know what the future holds? No. Unfortunately, I do not.
Can I tell you with the utmost certainty everything is going to be all right? No. Unfortunately, I cannot.
But I can offer you this insight.
Division pushes us away from the things – politics, policies, and ideologies – that do not align with our truths. It creates space between people. It widens the gap making it challenging for us to find commonalities.
Division, however, can also create something beautiful. It draws together and encourages those of us who are on the same wavelength.
We, Orthodox Christians, are not of this world. This reality does not belong to us, but that does not mean we can ignore reality.
To be present we must immerse ourselves totally, and completely in reality – without becoming attached to it. We must see things exactly as they are without judgment or hatred in our hearts. We must call a thing a thing: racism is racism, sexual assault is sexual assault, hate crime is hate crime, and pain is pain.
These sufferings are, however, worldly characteristics. They are not divine sensations, for these only inspire love, joy, and peace.
There is only one way we Christians can heal. There is only one way to find clarity in the storm of reality: we must focus ourselves on the Light of Christ.
Today, Tuesday, November 15th is the first day of the Nativity Fast, an opportunity for all of us to find light in the darkness. A needed and necessary period to refocus the timely – the here and now – to the grander and more important reality – that which is eternal.
In the wake of this election, on the first day of the fast, we begin uniquely individual journeys. Throughout the next forty days, we will encounter, recognize, and wrestle with our demons. Healing begins when we acknowledge our illusions, the dark, mysterious secrets that have grown quietly in the shadows for far too long.
Fear disguises itself as a teddy bear. Fear makes itself small and buries itself deep within us to avoid being reviewed and questioned. It cleverly masks itself, saying to us with confidence, But my dear, what do you mean I am disruptive? I have been here protecting and guiding you all along.
Fear is crafty. It grows by going unnoticed, continuing its pattern of destruction with ease. Fear pushes love away for fear is afraid of welcoming. It is strong when it is alone.
Fortunately, our fears do not fare well in Lenten times. The Light shines a magnifying truth on our spiritual inner workings. What is pleasing to God can stay and what causes destruction must go.
Today, we also begin healing as a community. Those that are focused on positive paths will begin to find one another. The collective struggle of individual Orthodox Christians yearning, fighting, and seeking the light will begin to move us forward, and will begin to bring us together. We come together on a foundation stronger than ideology and election results, we come together on a foundation of truth.
The only way to find each other is to find ourselves.
We need to create a world within the world, and there is only one way to do that: through Synergy, a collective meditation during the first fasting season of the New Year, the Nativity Fast.
Friends – Republicans and Democrats alike – let us remember the one thing we have in common. The one thing that makes us who we are in this world and the world to come: Orthodox Christians.
This is who we need to be right now.
Wishing you a blessed Nativity fast. May you find peace in your heart.
Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshipers met together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be, were they to become ‘unity’ conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.
― A.W. Tozer