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One year ago today, on Reformation Sunday, I sat in the congregation of the Presbyterian church I’d been attending and had myself a revelation. I heard the pastor preach about the value of the Reformation and even get a bit teary eyed about the whole thing. I realized, just then, that I was not a protestant, that I’d never really been a protestant.

I’d been attending catechism classes and Vespers services at a Greek Orthodox church for a few weeks but had not yet made it to Liturgy. My husband had decided that he could no longer sit in a church, any church, at least for a while. I was sitting in Presbyterian church because I loved the work my friends were doing with my kids in their Sunday school program but the service was empty for me. I know God was present there, is present there, but I was absent and I could not find myself there anymore.

It was Reformation Sunday that drove that home. This might have been a day of joy and release for me, the day I realized that I was not a protestant, but it wasn’t. It was the complicated choice. It meant that I would leave everything I’d been building and everything I knew. It meant I would have to straddle two communities in a time when my husband was not interesting in participating in either one. It meant I was going to move into completely unchartered territory and risk judgement from all of my friends at the time.

I felt very alone.

I tried to articulate this to my husband, to my best friends, to my kids. It didn’t make a whole lot of sense, to be honest. It makes a little more sense now, a year later, but I still feel very alone as I head out this morning to visit my third Orthodox church in the Chicago area. I’m pinning a lot to this visit and I’m laying down a lot too- expectations, time with my family, another hour of sleep, anonymity…and I’m putting on a skirt, people. I’m putting on a skirt.

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©2021 by Angela Doll Carlson