Something happened. Something I have never experienced. I have had encounters with God, but not like this. I have been learning about the Orthodox understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity in my Inquirers class. The priest (Fr. Andrew Welzig) was explaining everything in his eloquent, yet straight-forward way. Dissecting theological definitions, and distilling dogmatic assertions with humor, reverence, and an extremely joyful disposition. As I was listening to him teach, I experienced what other Orthodox Christians call a "Noetic Experience". I honestly can't even remember now what specifically, and more to the point, verbally was even said. However, I do remember an odd sensation that, though non-physical, nor emotional, nor rational, was profoundly real, existentially pleasurable, and extremely subtle. For the first time in my life, it "clicked". That "it", is Orthodoxy.
It was like a new game cartridge was inserted into my spiritual NES,(that's short for Nintendo Entertainment System for anyone born after 95'). My whole perception of Orthodox Christianity changed in a moment. Literally, a moment. On the one hand it was an almost ineffable sensation, filled with waves of fulfillment, and spirit-watering satisfaction. On the other hand, it was incredibly low-key. I didn't bi-locate, nor did I levitate, nor did I see anything out of the ordinary. All I could do was say, "wow", and smile from ear to ear. It was like a soul-massage. I'm sure Fr. Andrew thought I had smoked some, as we say in Washington State now, "medicine". I looked, frankly, high. I'm sure of it. And you know what, I guess I was high....or.....medicated.
After the 1 hour class, I proceeded to stay for Vespers, and I'm so glad I did. You see, I have been trying to remove the last little bit of Scientific Materialistic Atheism from my being now for, well, I'm not sure how long honestly. No matter how many books I read, no matter how many miracle testimonies I hear/read, and no matter how many Masses I attend, it won't go away. Sort of like that gross Mucinex mucus cartoon that follows people around, and lives in their lungs. Except my "skeptical slime ball" was firmly attached to my soul. Maybe I carry my skepticism around as some sort of a safety net to land in when my leap of faith goes horribly wrong. Atheism is "safe", and who doesn't want safety?
C. S. Lewis, in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, records this familiar line. He writes,
“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion." "Ooh" said Susan. "I'd thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion"..."Safe?" said Mr Beaver ..."Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you.”
We all know who Aslan is representative of in that story. He is Jesus. Our King. Our Savior, and our Redeemer. He is also violently loving, and wholly unsafe to have any dealings with. He requires your life. Literally your whole life. Anyone who requires our lives of us, needs to be taken seriously. My defensive atheistic safety measures are no match for, in the words of my favorite songwriter Rich Mullins, the "wreckless raging fury, that they call the Love of God." Indeed, He truly is not safe, and he took a pair of shears to my safety net during vespers that night.
Again, the heavens did not open up. I saw no angels, nor did I hear the audible voice of God before, during, or after the beautiful prayers of the priest. One thing was different though. In a moment, I knew, KNEW, that He was there. No, I don't have epistemological certainty about the existence of God. How boring. How safe. I do however posses a subtle security, and a new outlook that allow me to finally have some peace about God's existence.