My journey to the Orthodox faith, part 3

31 10 2007

     Vera decided to stay home.  We have three cats and two dogs.  Someone had to see to their needs.  Vera told me later that she kept praying  this part of The Trisagion Prayers:  O Heavenly King, O Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, who are in all places and fill all things, the treasury of good things and the giver of life: Come and abide in us, cleanse us from every stain, and save our souls, O Good One.”  ( These prayers are part of a group of prayers that Orthodox Christians pray each morning and evening.)  I had driven to the emergency room by myself.  It was hard to see Jim shout out strange and confusing things.  He would ask the same question over and over.  My oldest daughter, Sandy, came as soon as she could to be with me.  Later, my son  Ben arrived.  Maria, my other daughter lives about 18 miles out of town.  She took it upon herself to inform friends and relatives around the country. 

     Vera took on the job of posting friends through email all night long about Jim’s condition.  I had fallen out of Sandy’s SUV and rolled hard on to her carport.  The pain in one of my hips was awful but I knew I had to make it to Vanderbilt.  So off we went as fast as we could.  I was full of adrenalin not fear.  I couldn’t give into fear.  I knew I had to be strong for my family.  When we got to the trauma floor, my brother Brad and his wife Susan were waiting for us.  The doctor called us back.  He gave me a blow by blow account of what had happened to Jim.  Jim’s aorta had split right up near his jugular vein.  He told me  Jim had a 40% chance of dying.  We were allowed to visit Jim for a few minutes.  However, he was talking out of his head.  Sandy and Ben were crying.  I made the sign of the cross over Jim and we all left.  Thus, we started the long all night vigil of waiting to hear how Jim was doing.  My hip hurt terribly.  My sister -in-law came me some medicine.  It didn’t even touch the pain.  Everyone else walked all around but I couldn’t move.  Off and on during the night, a nurse would call to tell me Jim was still alive.  In my heart, I knew he would live.  Finally, around 10:00 a.m. Sunday morning, they called to tell us that Jim had survived and would be in intensive care for many days. 

     We went in to see him.  It was a pitiful sight.  He was hooked up to so many machines.  Our children just cried.  I just prayed over him.  We decided that there was nothing we could do .for Jim that day so we came back home.  I needed the sleep to get ready to take care of business matters  for Jim.  Thank goodness he had almost three weeks of vacation that he had never used.  I had to go by his work and get the papers started for his disability pay and then take them to our family doctor to fill out.  We made a quick stop in the country to see Maria and headed back to Vanderbilt.  Brad and Sandy offered to let me stay in their beautiful home on the outskirts of Nashville.  That began about ten more days at Vanderbilt. 

     Brad and Sandy have a home with about 5 acres of woods surrounding them.  When I looked out my bedroom windows, I could see nothing but the beautiful woods.  Each morning Brad would have coffee made and an assortment of cereals to choose from.  Brad would take me on the back roads to and from Vanderbilt each day.  We  had a chance to catch up on our news with each other.  Each evening Brad and Susan cooked me a lovely meal.  I would usually go straight to bed.  I read my Bible and had my prayers and fell right to sleep.  I felt so incredibly comforted with the peace of God.

     From 7:00 a.m. to about 5:0o p.m. , I stayed with Jim.  He really didn’t wake up until Tuesday.  The children took turns visiting with them.  Jim made no sense in anything he said.  It took another 24 hours before he seemed to understand what had happened to him.  Moreover, that was the day that Fr Gordon Walker came to visit with him.  By Thursday, Jim was able to be moved to the regular cardiac floor.  His body was so swollen, especially his hands.  He started physical therapy which went extremely slow.  Again, on Friday Fr. Gordon came back to see us.  This time , he annointed Jim  with oil. 

     I occupied myself with prayers, Bible reading and finishing a series of books I had started back in September.  My hip still hurt me terribly.  When Sandy and her girlfriend came back to visit us, it was really hard just walking around Vanderbilt with them.  Vera finally got a chance to visit  her daddy.  She had worked so hard maintaining our household.  I was so thankful that she was still living at home.  Marie and Ben got a chance to come visit also. 

    Jim was able to pray and read the Bible with me the last few days we were at Vanderbilt.  We had our prayer times after he ate his breakfast and before I left in the evening.  He was fully alert and told everyone that he now had some time to study Orthodoxy .  Everything about his mind was clear and sharp.  The doctor later told me that he thought if Jim lived he would  have the mental capacity of a child.  What a miracle!  Oh, I forgot to tell you that Jim had 14 units of blood during his surgery.

     It was a beautiful fall morning when Brad came to drive us home. We had learned a great deal about nutrition at Vanderbilt so when we stopped at McDonalds , we all ordered grilled chicken.  We ate our lunch on our front porch, rejoicing at all the miracles that God had done for our family.  We had a long road ahead of us but we were excited that we could continue our journey toward becoming  catechumens.  Vera was packed and ready to move to Murfreesboro the very Saturday after we got home.  She could hardly wait to visit St. Elizabeth the New Martyr Orthodox Christian Church.  We knew we would be home bound for awhile.  Tomorrow I will tell you about  Vera’s experiences at St Elizabeth and how we eventually found our way there, also.

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2 responses

14 03 2008
David Web

Nichole:

Perhaps I’m just not looking in the right place, but in your archives, I fail to find a continuance of your journey to Orthodoxy, beyond part 3, wherein Jim is annointed at Vanderbilt Hospital. Mayhap, it was the end of your journey and You and Jim had determined to go forward in becoming full fledged Orthodox Christians.

I’ve never really been real comfortable with the evangelical movement in America, to which I have been exposed. It seems that oftentimes these people are pushing a political agenda in concert with the good message of Jesus Christ our Lord, although it’s certainly not always the case.

Also, many don’t seem to have a lot of tolerance for any kind of voice of dissent, or the independent nature of folks such as myself, who would never really challenge the Good News, but remains cynical in how the application is manifested. The Apostle Paul also acknowledges that there are Christians like myself who forsake the assembling together, as you and Jim also did for many years at times.

However, in fairness, I have to tell you people like Joseph Stalin actually attended an Orthodox Seminary for a season, (albeit his Mother’s determination), that he do so. I have become a very serious student of History over the years, and would probably surpise you with some of the details I know about the history, ethnicity, and cultures of mankind’s progressions and migrations. Of course the Apostle Paul was the original missionary to what is now modern Greece and Turkey, or Asia minor, if you will, in Turkey’s case. I also know that St. Nicholas was actually from what is now Turkey, that he was Orthodox, etc.

I sincerely believe that one must have their own journey with our Maker, which often manifests itself in different expressions of faith. There are those, such as myself, who will never be fully accepted in any organized church, simply because of the disastrous experiences in the break down of the supposed and intended norm of family life, which I have experienced with Marilyn, etc.

I’m not the type of person that likes to discuss personal issues, which invariably come into play at any and all church settings. Like Mark Twain, I often view them as busy bodies, and too often simple minded with closed perceptions, comfortable in their own smug self assurances of what they think is the way things should be.

Although I certainly realize that circumstance often dictaes a change in direction, whether it be of choice, economic necessity, or the very fact that God wants a person to “move on”!

Per haps, I’ll delve into some of the reading that inspired you, while remembering you have been a Baptist, exposed to the Pentecostal movement, a non-denominational Bible Student, a Lutheran, a disgusted person, and now an Orthodox Christian. Tell me Nichole, since I have one of these churches within a few miles of me, is this the end of your journey, never to change again?

Little Brother

15 03 2008
nichole3

Dear David,
Let’s start with your last paragraph. Like you, Jim and I have never been quite comfortable with the Evangelical movement in America either. We’ve been restless our entire married life–until Vera began revealing her findings about the Orthodox Faith. Yes, I appear to be a person who can’t settle down. I believe that finally–Jim and I are settled in our faith.

You are not alone with being divorced. The Evangelical Church in 2008 is full of classes for divorced folks and for those who are on drugs. In the decades we were raising our family–the church didn’t do a good job in reaching out to people experiencing brokeness.

The Orthodox Church sees the church as a hospital anyway. We expect people to have problems. They are not addressed publicly. Our services have no place for embarressing people. We have a service that has been practiced since the fourth century. We go to church to worship God–not to belittle others.
With full privacy we talk to our priest about our problems. He has taken a vow not to betray his flock. It is very healing and comforting.

Vera has a musical CD by priest from a Denver Orthodox Church. His name is Fr. Apostolos Hill. He is the assistant priest at” Assumption Greek Orthodox Cathedral. I wonder if this is the church near you. Check to see if the service is in English–before you visit. There is also an Antiochian parish in Denver. This for sure will be in English. The priest is Fr. John Charles Connely (sounds Irish) His email is john.connely@gmail.com–the address is 1405 S. Vine St. Denver, Co. 80210-2336 The phone is : (303) 722-0707 The name of the church is: St. Mark Church.
I can send you books if you wish. Another wonderful book that I don’t think I mentioned in my post is THE ORTHODOX CHURCH by Timothy Ware ( Biship Kallistos of Diokleia)

As far as Stalin goes–I knew that information. I don’t think he ever wanted to be at the Orthodox seminary. He caused quite a bloodbath for the Orthodox Christians especially those who lived as monks and nuns in the monasteries. There are hypocrites in every church, no doubt.

love,
Sis

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