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A Reflection on the Anniversary of My Father’s Death

November 18, 2011
Christ Pantocrator, detail of the Deesis mosaic

Image via Wikipedia

I know I normally draw some kind of analogy between Orthodoxy and Lord of the Rings, but this thought has been rolling around in my mind for a couple weeks. Tonight, November 18th, marks the 19th anniversary of the death of my dad. That seems like an odd number of years to reflect on (19), but it has some significance to me. For this year I am 38. That means tonight marks exactly half of my life has been lived without my dad (I called him Papa). It’s not a particularly moving thought, nor is it one that has been bringing me down, but it has been in the back of my mind for a while. So tomorrow, when I wake up, the days will begin to tick and I will have lived more of my life without my dad, than with him. I know that’s a reality that many people live with, so I do not consider my situation unique.

One ironic thing about that night, 19 years ago; I found myself before a large picture of Christ that hung in my room. His eyes always appeared to be looking right into your soul, laying it bear. I suddenly had a sense that it was all in His hands, and that I would be fine. The irony is that I was an “iconoclast” Protestant Fundamentalist. Now, 19 years later, I stand before an icon of Christ in prayer every day. Also now, instead of only wondering what may have become of his soul, I pray for him daily, that God would grant him His eternal Kingdom.

So while the main thing I have been reflecting on today has been the death of my dad, and the fact that I have lived half my life without him, I can now see that even the tragedies in my life pointed me to the Orthodox Church. That picture of Christ was just a veiled hint of what I would eventually find in Orthodoxy. Yet it really did speak something deep to me, just as Christ speaks to me now through the Church.

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