Monday, March 4, 2013

My journey to Orthodoxy, Part 2

Hattiesburg, Mississippi, is a strange place.  It's a university town, defined by its relationship with the University of Southern Mississippi and to a lesser extent William Carey University.  It's the county seat of Forrest County, named for Nathan Bedford Forrest.  And it's been my home for the past ten years.

I knew when I moved to Hattiesburg that there were no Orthodox churches for at least an hour's drive.  In 2003, I still drove to Jackson about twice a month to attend Liturgy at Holy Trinity Church.  The hardest thing was the discipline to attend divine services.  Once I slacked off on divine services, I slacked off on prayer.  I was caught in a world of hedonism and despair.  This really qualifies as my wasted youth, even though I was 27 at the time.

I found a ROCOR mission in Semmes, Alabama, and I attended sporadically.  It was a difficult thing to drive from Hattiesburg to Semmes, passing along US Highway 98 eastbound through the most depressing slog of two-lane garbage I'd ever seen.  But the church community was warm and welcoming, and Fr. Alexander and Matushka fostered a great Christian spirit.  During this time, I recovered some of my youthful interest and involvement in the church, and most of all, my interest in something other than the world.

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