A Reflection

After a 5-week penance from my Orthodox online community, Oikonomia, I’ve learned a lot about myself, the faith, those in it, real values that I can carry with me through life. I intended on not writing these types of autobiographical posts, but this one I feel is worth sharing. This reflection won’t cover just the penance, but the events leading up to now.

A Chronology

Illumination and Darkness

In the midst of some of the more intense periods of the pandemic, I was chrismated as an Orthodox Christian under my priest Fr. Gabriel Bilas at St. Mary Magdalene Orthodox Church in Fenton, Michigan. This was on June 17th. After the chrismation service, my godparents invited my priest to lunch during which he said that I was “glowing.” It’s one of the most important days of my life, a direct encounter with the Holy Spirit along with a life confession that provided the greatest internal, spiritual cleanse that I’ve ever had. If I could replay the day, I would. Hopefully it’s something that I can do if I join the Kingdom.

Not long after the event, my significant other at the time (who I’ll refer to as “Q”), began having spiritual experiences that I couldn’t quite understand. I didn’t have any reason to dispute their legitimacy, it was all very sincere and seemed to be sober-minded. While I don’t want to divulge into these experiences, I will at least disclose that it involved a direct connection with God on a communicative level. I’ve known others who have these abilities, so it wasn’t something unknown or unfamiliar to me.

About a week after these began, she had explained to me that she wanted to discern monasticism, that God had led her to the conclusion. I disputed the idea, seeing as we were a month past our 3rd anniversary. I felt betrayed and confused, as though those 3 years were suddenly vapor. She wanted a month to discern, I remained adamant in my position. As a result, she decided to end the relationship.

From then, we stopped communicating generally. The wound was too fresh and any encounters led me to depression and frustration. At the same time, I felt isolated and lost. The person I had spent my days with was suddenly out of my life, what was I to do? On July 13th, we resumed communication after I was told through a mutual friend that she had went to the hospital. During the time, I reiterated my feelings about the situation and while she expressed sympathy, she didn’t express empathy. I was talking to the embodiment of a stoic. She got out of the hospital that same day.

The following day, we spoke on call and went through everything once more. I was able to put a voice to the emotions I felt, only to result in her frustration at my unwillingness to accept what happened between us. About 3 hours after that, she called me and told me that what I said hurt her, and to never speak to her again.

Out of loneliness and depression that night, I desperately attempted to contact her. The last thread of hope I had was removed that night.

Explosion

I remember little about the period between then and the events I’m about to get into. I had a brief stint in making music to express how I felt about everything, which went pretty well, but the rest is pretty blurry.

On July 23rd, a mutual friend (who I’ll name “W”) spoke with me about Q telling others about how I mistreated her. I had no clue about what she could’ve possibly been talking about, but W didn’t want to disclose what was said in confidence to Q’s private group of friends. I assumed that it was about Q’s disagreement with how I felt about the situation.

A little over a week later, W and I had a conversation about music. I shared what I had made and what I was working on, about how cathartic it was. W had asked whether any of my friends had told me what Q was speaking about. No one had at that point, but it wasn’t something I wanted to get involved in. W vented to me a bit about how it was a conflicting situation for her and that she was looking to confront Q about it. I told her not to defend me. I still had no clue about what Q was talking about, but I knew there wasn’t anything critical that she could’ve been speaking about.

W cut to the chase and told me that Q was accusing me of sexual abuse.

At first I was incredibly confused, where was this coming from? Her and I had our “encounters”, but nothing that could’ve been even slightly malicious. I asked some questions to explain what exactly was being said, but ultimately none of it was based in reality. W went to go do something for about an hour, which was more than enough time for the grief to settle in.

I was disgusted, grieved, confused. I was at a loss how she had conjured this idea, let alone the fact that she was spreading this to friends and those who already had a bad history with me. The betrayal was turned up to 11. W had recounted some other miscellaneous details about what Q had been up to during the time. Not too long after, I tried to sleep.

The following afternoon, I spoke to a different mutual friend (named “T”) just checking in on how she was doing. T was struggling with getting a foundation spiritually, so I just wanted to make sure progress was getting made. T had told me that she was on my side regarding Q’s accusations. I was a bit surprised that she knew about it, but it turns out she was in the audience of people where Q was making the accusations. She offered to explain the situation as she understood it, so we spent a good two hours going through the situation.

I learned that the accusations began the day after Q told me to never speak to her again. I was provided screenshots of vaguely-worded lies and complete untruths. I also learned that my private conversations between Q and myself were put on livestream for her friends during some sort of “evidence collecting”. These screenshots spanned from July 15th up until my conversation with T on August 2nd. In conclusion, due to one of Q’s friends putting a conclusive term to what happened, Q accused it of being rape.

The First Exile and the First Disclosure

The following day, I spoke to my priest to recount everything that occurred, and I was instructed to drastically reduce my time on Oikonomia (the Orthodox community I run, also my main “social media” outlet). I announced it to the community, without much explanation. Thankfully, the Dormition Fast had just begun so that was my cover for the two weeks I was away. Nothing of note happened during this period, it went by pretty quickly.

I returned on August 15th, the feast day of the Dormition (Revised Julian Calendar). The following day I felt compelled to disclose what the reason for my temporary exile was about. I spoke to T about how to briefly explain the situation I was in without going into great detail. I answered some small questions but I thankfully received a lot of support toward my plight. The day after, the announcement had made its way to Q, who believed that W was responsible for my knowledge. W, in her honesty, came clean. She ultimately became the scapegoat for what everything I had learned, despite 90% of it coming from T.

I struggled with the remnants of my grief during this period, but the situation calmed down after that and all was quiet in the world. At the same time, I wanted to talk to her, I wanted to get a glimpse into the mindset leading to this. I try to reconcile as much as possible, so I was hopeful that we could talk this out. I never attempted to talk, though, I knew it wasn’t favorable.

The Ripple Effect

On October 1st, around 3 am, a notification popped up on my computer that provided the largest panic attack I ever faced. Q had come to Oikonomia. She acted quite reserved but I refused to grant her access until after I tried to sleep. Meanwhile, I was panic venting to my friends about what was going on.

I woke up around noon to a small handful of impatient direct messages from Q. She apparently called me a couple hours prior, although I didn’t even notice these until a day after. She acted as though I was already awake. One of my staff had erroneously told her I was awake to avoid an in-server conflict. All in all, I was pretty frustrated, she came to my solace as though she had some sort of power over me. I had also discovered through other users that a manifesto of sorts as well as a collection of “evidential” screenshots had attempted to been posted on the server, which was removed by my staff, only to end up being spammed into any user’s DM by her and her friend.

I asked her to a voice chat. It was going to be my one opportunity to try to reconcile. We had a chat with two others present. It ended up being very strange, as a lot of you already know. Her thought process toward the situation was incredibly disjointed and careless, as if her own mind hadn’t actually registered the severity of her accusations. She seemed to be entirely led by emotion, to the point of bringing up the desperate contact attempts that happened following the severing of all communication. She brought it up as though it were a grudge and she expressed a disproportionate amount of anger toward it, which to date I have no idea how it was practically unforgiveable to her.

No fruit of reconciliation came from it, although myself and countless others had validation toward how careless the accusations were made. I recorded the chat, added it to my growing collection of files I kept on the situation, for defensive purposes. I compressed the collection into an archive and posted it publicly on my community for about a day.

The Second Exile

On October 2nd, I made an emergency call to my priest about everything that had occurred. We had discussed about how novel the situation is to Orthodoxy as a whole, being that it’s online. Ultimately, this led to him placing a 6-week penance, to be away from Oikonomia. For the uninitiated, the penalty for breaking penance is being barred from communion. I was not able to even look at Oikonomia’s chats without violating this penance. Thankfully, I was still able to communicate with my friends elsewhere.

I didn’t disagree with the penance. It was to protect me, I was keenly aware of that.

The first two weeks of the penance went like the first exile, pretty quickly. On the third week, I became more aware of my social isolation and my struggle with despondency. I touched base with my priest asking for his advice. The following week had improvement but the “shadows” of my issues were still lingering. The fifth week, I had become aware of disarray in the community. Those I had assigned to oversee had their own issues and the community didn’t have the proper level of moderation that it demanded. I asked my priest for an end to the penance. He compromised and said that the fifth week would be my final week of penance. On the condition that I eased myself into everything the sixth week.

During the later end of this penance, I founded a company for my long-term side project, BibleBot. I founded Evangelion Ltd. and incorporated in Scotland. The legitimization of the project has bore fruit rather quickly, thankfully. I’ve negotiated multiple licensing agreements for the project and it’s all been incredibly blessed and fun. I spent most of the later end working on kickstarting this.

I also was able to realign myself toward my occupational and educational goals. Of finishing my degree and working towards great employment. The passion I had for my hobby had fired up again (after a pretty long burnout, I must add).

Conclusion

Today, November 7th, I returned from my penance to Oikonomia. The feeling is rather strange, being without it for so long makes being back in feel foreign. I saw how the server had been in some disarray, which I’ve addressed but the cleanup will take some time. All in all, I still don’t really know how to feel or act in the server. I feel detached but at the same time this was something I enjoyed running for the longest time. Hopefully easing into everything will solve this.

I’m glad to be back, but I feel I have more work to do than when I left, for the better and the worse. If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading. Writing is cathartic and setting it free is as well.

Blessings,
Seraphim

Navigating the Schism as a Layman

Christ is born!

It has been a bit over a year since most turbulent parts of the schism pertaining to Ukraine occurred. The ship that is the Orthodox Church is finally in some quieter waters, but we are certainly still in dangerous territory. Various hierarchs have been making their decisions to commemorate the new Ukrainian metropolitan, rocking the boat and leading to further hostilities amongst our bishops.

There’s that keyword, bishops. We aren’t bishops, we’re laymen. What are we to do as our spiritual heads argue and navigate these frightful waters? It’s scary! We feel paralyzed from what’s going on, we don’t have a say in their decisions! How do we, as laymen, understand what’s going on and where we’re headed?!

As an outsider in the OCA, I want to provide my insights to the schism in the hope of helping others understand. Here in the West, there’s a large expanse between us and them, making us even more lost as to what’s going on. It is my hope to help calm the hype and panic of some who are uncertain, maybe feeling hopeless about the situation.

This article will follow three main ideas: where we are, how we got here, and what we can do.

Where are we?

At this point, the schism’s hype has subsided. While the Russian Orthodox Church (and ROCOR) have severed Eucharistic communion with the whole of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the initial stab wound is healing. The schism has not been mended in any sense, but the pain and shock of it has gone down. We realize that we’re okay and we can still carry on. We’ve regained our internal stability and hope for the future where we become reunited.

The Church of Greece and the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria has chosen to recognize the Orthodox Church in Ukraine and to commemorate their metropolitan, Epiphaniy (Dumenko). In response, the Russian Orthodox Church has ceased to commemorate their primates (Archbishop Ieronymos II of Athens and Patriarch Theodore II of Alexandria, respectively). However, unlike with Constantinople, the Russian Orthodox Church has not declared full severance in communion with these churches.

The Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, like many churches, has remained in want of a pan-Orthodox council, which Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I has rejected, as over half the Church did not attend the June 2016 “Holy and Great Council” in Crete.

The Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem has attempted to get things moving, inviting the primates of all Orthodox churches to a “fraternal gathering in love”[1] in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. This move has been supported by the Russian Orthodox Church and the Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia thus far. The Church of Greece has rejected it, saying that only the Ecumenical Patriarch can convene such a council. The Patriarch agrees, which is why he specifically used “fraternal gathering in love” and stated that he honors the Ecumenical Patriarch’s supposed prerogative in convening councils. Confusing…

How did we get here?

This is the fun section of the article, where we reveal the complexity of the schism. I’ll attempt my best to explain it as briefly as possible.

On October 11th, 2018, the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate decided that it wanted to pursue the establishment of an autocephalous (that is, independent) Orthodox church in Ukraine. Most of the technicalities around this can be ignored. What is important to keep in mind is that the Ecumenical Patriarchate had issued a letter to the Patriarch of Moscow in 1686 pertaining to Ukraine and that the Ecumenical Patriarchate wished to achieve this by uniting the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church and Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Kiev Patriarchate, both formerly schismatic and excommunicated groups. There’s a third detail that we will get into later.

In the letter issued to Moscow, differing conclusions are drawn by both parties. The Russian Church claims that the letter transferred the jurisdiction of the Metropolis of Kyiv (Ukraine) from Constantinople to Moscow. While Constantinople claims that it was merely a temporary situation where the Church of Russia was to ordain the metropolitan of Kyiv for an unspecified amount of time, a decision that they claim was hastily done on account of historical circumstance. What we can understand as laymen is that some sort of transferring of authority occurred where Moscow became responsible for the affairs in Ukraine, whether it was temporary or permanent is a matter of debate.

In order to achieve the goal of a new autocephalous Ukrainian Church, the Ecumenical Patriarchate decided to lift the excommunications of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC) and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Kiev Patriarchate (UOC-KP), two groups that had both schismed from the (then) canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP). Their primates were excommunicated and the status quo was that these churches were both schismatic with no value to them.

While lifting of excommunication is nothing novel, the contention lies in how the schismatics were received. Instead of a typical procedure in vesting the ordained schismatics, the seemingly simple wave of a hand is what changed these once schismatics into canonical deacons, priests, and bishops. We hear nothing of a standard procedure of reception for these groups, which is rather confusing given our strictness toward canonical tradition.

The third detail is the prerogatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. There are certain “givens” that the Ecumenical Patriarch claims to have, and some others agree. According to the OrthodoxWiki, these prerogatives are as follows:

  1. Equality with [Old] Rome.
  2. The right to hear appeals, upon request.
  3. The right to ordain bishops in areas outside canonical boundaries.
  4. The right to establish stavropegial monasteries wheresoever they desire.

Here’s the sources that the EP claims to have these abilities from, respectively:

  1. Canon 3 of the Second Council of Constantinople, Canon 28 of the Council of Chalcedon, and Canon 36 of the Council of Trullo.
  2. Canons 9 and 17 of the Council of Chalcedon.
  3. Canon 28 of the Council of Chalcedon.
  4. The Epanagoge, a book of Byzantine law in existence around 886.

While a portion of these sources are understood and accepted by the Orthodox Church as a whole, there are two that are not, that of Canon 28 of the Council of Chalcedon and the Epanagoge.

Canon Confusion

Canon 28 of the Council of Chalcedon states as follows:

Following in all things the decisions of the holy Fathers, and acknowledging the canon, which has been just read, of the One Hundred and Fifty Bishops beloved-of-God (who assembled in the imperial city of Constantinople, which is New Rome, in the time of the Emperor Theodosius of happy memory), we also do enact and decree the same things concerning the privileges of the most holy Church of Constantinople, which is New Rome. For the Fathers rightly granted privileges to the throne of old Rome, because it was the royal city. And the One Hundred and Fifty most religious Bishops, actuated by the same consideration, gave equal privileges (ἴσα πρεσβεῖα) to the most holy throne of New Rome, justly judging that the city which is honoured with the Sovereignty and the Senate, and enjoys equal privileges with the old imperial Rome, should in ecclesiastical matters also be magnified as she is, and rank next after her; so that, in the Pontic, the Asian, and the Thracian dioceses, the metropolitans only and such bishops also of the Dioceses aforesaid as are among the barbarians, should be ordained by the aforesaid most holy throne of the most holy Church of Constantinople; every metropolitan of the aforesaid dioceses, together with the bishops of his province, ordaining his own provincial bishops, as has been declared by the divine canons; but that, as has been above said, the metropolitans of the aforesaid Dioceses should be ordained by the archbishop of Constantinople, after the proper elections have been held according to custom and have been reported to him.

Let’s go piece by piece through this.

the One Hundred and Fifty Bishops beloved-of-God (who assembled in the imperial city of Constantinople, which is New Rome, in the time of the Emperor Theodosius of happy memory)

In the final session of the council of Chalcedon, where the canons were read, it is noted that the delegation to the Pope of Rome had left early on. Whether they anticipated something like this occurring, who knows, but what we do know is that the canonical primus’ delegation was not present for the declaration of this council. Later, when St. Pope Leo the Great received word of these canons, he agreed to all of them but this particular canon. The Patriarch of Constantinople in response wrote a letter disavowing the canon, acting as though he had no part in it.

so that, in the Pontic, the Asian, and the Thracian dioceses, the metropolitans only and such bishops also of the Dioceses aforesaid as are among the barbarians, should be ordained by the aforesaid most holy throne of the most holy Church of Constantinople

The EP understands this to mean that anywhere outside an existing canonical boundary is theirs to administer and ordain bishops for. A territorial “first dibs”, if you will. This is also the motivation why the autocephaly of the OCA is not recognized, for example.

For a while, this canon fell into obscurity after Pope Leo rejected it and Constantinople started pretending it never existed. Until around the 1920s when Patriarch Meletius IV (Metaxakis) of Constantiople (1921-1923) started to use the canon as a defense when the Ecumenical Patriarchate assumed the jurisdiction of the Greek Archdiocese in America, then belonging to the Church of Greece. Since then, we find the canon used consistently to lay claim to “barbarian lands” (those not of an existing jurisdiction).

In my findings, this is the canon that determines the Ecumenical Patriarch’s authority. If it isn’t a valid canon, then the EP lacks the abilities it claims. If it is, then it only logically follows that the EP does these things. However, the Church cannot decide. Those in favor of the EP will say that he definitely has authority through these canons, while others will say that this canon should’ve remained in obscurity like it has in history up until this point.

Finally, the Epanagoge was a book of law in the Byzantine Empire and given how close the government and the patriarchate were, it is somewhat logically sound. However, the Byzantine Empire does not exist anymore, and this book was actually withdrawn from official use not long after its publication. I haven’t read anything about this being used as an actual argument for the EP’s prerogatives, but you can at least understand where influence could come in.

The Creation of the OCU

The creation of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine was done via unification council convened by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, presided by Metropolitan Emmanuel of France. Both the UAOC and UOC-KP were on board with this, seeking to dissolve themselves in a sort of “merge” into this new autocephalous church. In the unification council, they elected as primate Metropolitan Epiphaniy (Dumenko) of Pereyaslav and Bila Tserkva, then part of the UOC-KP.

Mission complete, right? Done and done… so they thought. While the UAOC was entirely on board with unification, the head of the UOC-KP started having second thoughts. You see, Filaret (Denysenko) was the “Patriarch” of the UOC-KP and because of this unification, he was merely a “honorary patriarch.” Metropolitan Epiphany de jure and de facto is the head of the OCU, he merely chooses to give Filaret a say in how it would be ran.

However, this wasn’t enough for Filaret. The authority he once enjoyed in the UOC-KP is now reduced to a mere nicety in the OCU. Not only this, but Filaret felt that the OCU was made to be dependent on the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the OCU’s tomos of autocephaly (read: letter of independence), as the OCU is objectively dependent on the EP for things like Holy Chrism (the anointing oil for the reception of converts, etc.). This wasn’t no real autocephaly or truly Ukrainian church, Filaret thought.

Thus, Filaret held a local “council” (only 2 bishops and a dozen priests were present). The council “abolished” the unification council. Filaret later stated that the UOC-KP will continue to exist as a third independent church. The Ukrainian government made a handful of moves to prevent any sort of usury on Filaret’s part. The OCU declared him a retired bishop with no jurisdiction and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew said that he took the wrong path.

There’s an underlying irony to this situation. Epiphany was Filaret’s right-hand man, you can find him present in a significant portion of photos alongside him. Yet, I suppose being siblings in Christ is dependent on ecclesiastical titles, at least to Filaret.

What can we do?

The very obvious answer is obedience. Obedience to our priest, who is obedient to his bishop. We as laymen not only lack the authority to resolve Church conflict, we also lack the fundamental tools to do it. Unlike Protestantism, where schism is a pastime and part of life, we must stay where we are. Here in the West shouldn’t look to switch jurisdictions over this situation. After all, this is nothing new.

We should also avoid making hasty generalization and avoid slandering hierarchs and jurisdictions. We do not deal with the same struggles as them and we know nothing about their daily life. Insults or contempt toward our patriarchs and bishops is a sure way to put you down a dark path. The Church is divine and human, this is a very human situation. Unless you are ordained, keep your eyes on your own soul.

Finally, pray. Pray daily that God will mend the schism and bickering of the churches, that they may come to realize the futility of division and unite. There is only one faith, we should not squander it over borders.

Closing Thoughts

There are a few lingering questions on everyone’s mind:

  1. Who can give autocephaly?
  2. Does the EP rightfully have the authority it claims to have?

These questions are what need to be answered in a pan-Orthodox council. In such a council, clarifications need to be made on who has what authority, because it is not universally understood.

So here we are, biding our time and hoping something good happens. What happens from here is something only God knows, but we must find peace in the uncertainty. We live in a world where one moment we’re on the verge of war and another we want to get along. We simply need to pray and wait.

Hopefully, we may be one again.
- Seraphim

Where I Am Now

Greetings, everyone. It’s been a while.

As you might’ve read or noticed, these past few years have been all over the place. I won’t get into details too greatly like my usual blog posts, because they will no longer be my usual blog posts. What I can say though, is that I’m doing better. Not much better, but better nonetheless.

An update is warranted on everything that’s happened and what’ll be happening from now. For starters, I’m no longer going to blog about my life for now. While it was a good outlet during some of my darkest times, it’s no longer fulfilling and I end up neglecting more than writing. That being said, I won’t be cutting off myself from writing about my life completely. I’ve decided to opt for journaling. This way, I can give myself the opportunity to have everything that this blogging experience has alongside the privacy allowing me to be more direct in my writing. If I used names here as much as I do in my journal, I’m sure it would be read and spread rather quickly. This way, I can be personal. The likelihood of someone reading it is slim, and if they did it would be within certain parameters I’m comfortable with.

Secondly, I’ve converted to Eastern Orthodoxy and I’m currently a catechumen. Long past is my years of Buddhism and my time in Lutheranism. Study and prayer has led me to what I know is Christ’s Church, and I won’t turn back.

Thirdly, I did leave college for a short while following a full-time job I had with Walmart. I work at Planet Fitness part-time and so it has given me the opportunity to study computer science at Southern New Hampshire University with my girlfriend. I’m still on the up with that, promise.

I’m not sure whether I will keep this blog, frankly. In an ideal world, I would like to use this blog to talk about more technical matters like my adventures with Fedora Linux and other things. However, as you might already be aware, I’m not very good at keeping up with this.

We’ll see what happens.

A Life Renewed

Given that I lost my two previous blog posts regarding my life since dropping out, this will feel a bit out of sync to read if you’re reading these chronologically. I hope that isn’t much of an inconvenience.

Today, I start (well, at this point “have started”) college classes after my 3+ year long battle with dropping out (of multiple schools) and depression. I made it. I’m finally in college and I’m achieving my dreams in computer science.

Last year around late June—early May, I got my GED. With “College Ready” in all tests besides math, I knew I was on my way. After a struggle with religion and figuring out colleges and majors and where I wanted my life to go, I finally settled down with computer science.

A bunch of thanks are in order:

  1. God and Christ, for giving me the strength and direction that my life had lost for so long.
  2. My mom, for putting up with all my nonsense and encouraging me through it all.
  3. My grandmother, even though I never got the time to establish a connection, you always had faith in me, no matter what. You were like the human embodiment of God in His covenants.
  4. My girlfriend, Amira, for giving me a reason.
  5. My brothers and best friends Chris and Jacob, you guys have been by my side through this since day one, and you’ve seen the highs and the lows. Lord knows where I would’ve ended up without your guys’ support.

And finally:

  1. Financial aid, because paying for school out of pocket is near impossible.

Just a Memory

Listening to The Specktators (well, Packy) right now. It makes me think of the times I’d walk to the bus stop every morning to go to school, muting out the noise of the world, enjoying the beat and the message. Feeling the 60 degree weather, just that perfect temperature that isn’t too cold nor too hot. Not even worrying about the future, worrying about the past. Just living in the moment, here with my music. Once I’d get to the bus stop, I’d take my headphones off to talk to a couple friends until the bus arrived. Exchanging greetings with the bus driver, who I felt like I had a decent connection to, then sitting down and resuming the soundtrack to that part of my life. Watching the houses and trees pass by on the ride to school, still living in the moment. Only for the bus to arrive, forcing my soundtrack to come to a pause and for me to resume working on something I would eventually drop entirely.

Thinking about this and reflecting feels very sublime. While the rest of the day was boring and dull, this was one part that I feel like I really enjoyed in that time of my life. That serenity from solitude.

I pray that this form of “happiness” comes back in some way, and in some ways it already has. My faith has been getting stronger, day by day, and I can know and feel it, to the extent that it makes me happy.

In a realistic sense, I pray that this happiness grows, where my faith is strong regardless of whatever bumps I’m facing, and where I know and feel that I’m being loved and that someone finally cares.

I thank God for these blessings, day in and day out. Now if only I can get myself to do a proper confession again, rather than the impromptu “forgive me for my sins” or the “forgive us our trespasses” in the Lord’s prayer. While yes, it’s repenting, I think we can all agree that recollection, learning the gravity of our sins, and careful but thorough analysis can bring about that repentant heart. That, and God’s wonderful and amazing grace.