As this post suggests, I have decided to start blogging again, at least for the time being and possibly intermittently (depending, among other things, on internet connections as I’m presently living in a tent in the middle of nowhere a relatively isolated area – there is no middle of nowhere in the Netherlands! – and need to investigate whether I can afford mobile internet). But there are things that I keep coming across, books that I’ve read that I want to mention, quotes that have accumulated – and I generally need to find a disciplined framework to force, or at least encourage, myself to write. I’ve been thinking this for a while, but am finally starting again as, as any earlier readers who may still see this will hopefully appreciate, the event described in the following post is something I could hardly pass over in silence. (Okay, so I’ve acquired another favourite theologian in the meantime, but that is another story).
While this blog was never intended to be a personal journal neither was it anonymous in that I was quite open about who I was. I was also aware (and one of my readers once commented on this) that my writing had a personal tone and was self-revealing. Given this, it seems impossible to start blogging again without saying something about what has happened in my life in the past year.
My reason for suspending my blog in the last post was because I was about to be leaving my monastery in order to become Orthodox. Much has happened in the past year and I don’t intend talking about it all in public. Suffice it to say that it has not been an easy time, that I had second thoughts, that I realised that there had been a lot more going on than I originally imagined, that it has been a painful process, but also that there has been great relief and joy and that God has been very good to me, not least in the people He has sent to help me.
Needless to say, this has been a rather disruptive process. I had originally thought that I would simply have to find an Orthodox monastery, but it eventually became clear that there is simply too much to work through at once and that I need to find a certain stability before I can make long-term decisions. And so I am now in the process of trying to negotiate some of the practical challenges of finding a way to get settled, at least for a while, which is complicated by being in a foreign country. While I may well think of going back to South Africa in the future, if I am able to I would like to stay in Europe for a while in order to get more of an Orthodox formation, visit more Orthodox monasteries etc. I do have tentative plans which may come together in a couple of months’ time (and I’ll say more about that then) but for the time being I’m living in a tent (which I’ve dedicated to Saint Moses the Ethiopian – I told him that if he found me a room I’d dedicate it to him and when I got offered a tent realised that I couldn’t complain as he probably hadn’t had much more. It’s just as well I didn’t ask Saint Mary of Egypt!) and am doing odd bits of work and, well, it’s all a rather interesting new experience!
I am sharing this here as it would be rather difficult to simply start blogging again without saying anything as at the very least I would have had to change my “About” page. But I don’t intend to focus on it and certainly don’t intend getting into any polemical discussions – and I may as well warn you that triumphalistic Orthodox make me want to run a mile! Breaking communion (which I have not yet done) is not something that I will do lightly or without pain in my heart. At a future stage I may try and write more about some of my reasons for taking this step, and about dynamics in the Catholic Church, if I am able to do so in an irenic spirit, for these are things that I have reflected on much recently and about which I feel deeply. I have also been privileged to meet some outstanding Catholics (and some outstanding Orthodox) in this last year – and I think here particularly of the monastic community in Bose where I spent three months – but in the final analysis I could not live with the contradictions involved and had to follow where God led me.
All this to say that I’ll hopefully be blogging again. And I would of course value your prayers.