Though The Lord Himself Slay Me

by Fr. Stephen Siniari

   I work with uncertainty everyday at the shelter, kids and staff.  "I donít know where Iíll be staying tonight; and what do you care; you put me out?" "Her behavior left no choice. I hate this work. I donít want to do it anymore." Okay. It is what it is.

   She sliced him with a razor-knife; you stepped in, now his bloodís all over you. Donít go near your wife or kids Ďtil the test results come back. Two weeks. Yes, youíll have to tell your wife. You just have to live with it Ďtil we know. I have no visible cuts or open wounds. But what if? Then what? I donít know.

    I live with uncertainty myself, all the time. At the parish I tell my Confessor.  "All this prayerÖ Is it a sin to think, does it do any good?"  Who would I fool if I lied?

   There are days when I am uncertainty. I embody it, when I think about it: My body is like a time bomb, whatís it doing in there, three score years and ten? I have a fluctuating faith. One day I want to serve Him, the next day I want to run.  I blow with the wind, fashion, education, politics, pleasure, society, scienceÖ

   For twelve years Iíve worn a clergy collar in the trenches. No, it isnít a cassock, that would be awkward crawling through the abandoned buildings and on the avenue, but it offered some little iconographic hope: Even here, He calls his servants, out of the depths I cry and He remembers my name, He sends someone, even hereÖ But now the purveyors snicker in the coffee shop, "Hide the little boys." So I leave it in the car. Well, the work of the Gospel is more than a shirt, isnít it?

   Whatís certain in this life anyway? The wits of the world answer, taxes and death. Oh yeah, and suffering, say the boys who sip coffee and sell candles during Liturgy. Great. Big deal. Thought that up on your own, boys? You put your red eggs in the basket of this world and they get broken. Who doesnít know that? Think like that and whatís the point of living, temporary pleasure? Go be a pirate. Small consolation if you ask me. You sell out easy. An antidote, you ainít got.

   What Iím talking about is that thing you had as a kid, that invincible, eternal thing. The part that sometimes still inexplicably hopes itís going to see the good days again. The part of the child that refuses to go to bed, hates the dark, wants the light left on. The part in you the darkness keeps trying to extinguish. What about that? Let me ask you a question, which part you dancing with, the darkness or the light?

   Perhaps we who bear the Name of Christ have an offering in that regard. And I think we do. But how do we give a gift and not get in the way? How do we offer a gift people may have been robbed of the capacity to receive? 

   Perhaps we prepare a garden for the brokenhearted, a small world in from the storm. Refuse the cultural lie that makes trivial those who bear the gift of being human. Offer a liturgical interval where portals to a peaceable kingdom may be illumined. Confess, beggar to beggar, we too, have been beguiled by the malice of the snake. You can listen anotherís soul into existence. Hesychia, the Fathers say. Try it. Live loving wisdom that tempers trust with discernment. Weed doubt. Plant faith. Anoint the desecration in the Name of Jesus Christ. Wordless icons speak.

   Say with your lips to the uncertainty in your heart the words of Blessed Job: Though the Lord Himself slay me, yet will I trust Him. Spit in the devils face.  Pray and move your feet for another Ďtil your heart forgets uncertainty and believes. Embrace the sacramental mystery. Be embraced in the Antidote, say heal my soul. Grow in your calling, take one step, be Comforted, Heíll meet you, Taste & See.

[Additional articles from Fr. Stephen's series, "Good & Faithful Servant"]

Visit the Orthodox Church in America Homepage