“But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. “ - 1 Corinthians 5:11
“May Christ our true God, through the intercessions of his all-immaculate Mother, of the holy, glorious and all-laudable Apostles, of our Father among the Saints, Nicholas, Archbishop of Myra in Lycia, the Wonderworker, and of all the Saints, have mercy upon us and save us, for He is good and loveth mankind.”
I looked around the empty chamber, saddened by the knowledge that perhaps today is the day I need to consider closing the Church. A sheppard with no flock is not a sheppard, so a church with no followers is no longer a home of God. I sighed in knowing that even the choral responses need to be repeated by myself... and I did so.
“God grant them many years. God grant them many years. God grant them many, many, many many blessed, many years. Amen.”
Having confirmed the Church was indeed empty, I reached deep into my service robes for the small flask that no longer leaves my side and took another hit. How it must have looked as I stood up there in my Priestly robes taking drink after drink, leading prayer services to wooden pews, lead lined stained glass windows, and the Iconostas. I walked back behind the altar and there began the process of changing into more comfortable, and definitely more fitting clothing. Over and over in my head, I couldn't help but to continue wondering how I got here. My life was easy once, believing in who I was, what I was doing, and knowing where my places was in life. Now, it was no longer so easy, knowing that every night I performed my services with less conviction to less parishioners and feeling less meaning.
Having emptied the flask, I headed towards the vestibule of the Church to shut off the lights, lock the door, and begin the trek back home. I opened the door and felt the cold bite of the wind through the warm haze that can only be described by the apathetic inattention of a drunkard. The door being locked behind me, I walked, or perhaps better stated, shuffled across the parking lot to my home. I never registered the unusual traffic on 96, or the people running, or even the muffled yell or possible gunfire as I had chalked that up to tricks of the mind likely due to alcohol and lack of sleep. Getting to the house, I closed the front door against this early Minnesota chill. Heading upstairs, I checked the thermostat and refilled my flask from the walnut cabinet next to the bed. I again asked myself, what kind of Priest cannot even get a single follower for evening Vespers services? Does no one believe in God anymore? I don't know.
I felt the warmth of 90 proof scotch flow down into my stomach. I wonder if this evening was a reflection on today's seemingly new “morality”. The belief that nothing anyone does is evil, or their fault, and that it is all a reaction to some outside stimuli. I gulped down another mouthful as my emotions began to take control of my thoughts. But if that were the case, why not believe MORE in God? If something doesn't go your way, blame it on God! If you stumble, it was because of God! The copper colored liquid convinced me that doesn't work. If religion doesn't give answers, then maybe they should try science. And if science doesn't give them the answers they want, what then? Pick and Choose? Everyone needs something to believe in. I needed something to believe in... A person loses that, and they lose hope.
Hope... Who did I think I was kidding? The only hope I had left is that by the time the flask was empty again, I'd be able to fall asleep and not wake up to images and memories I could no longer close out. I cried out in a vain attempt in reconciling my life... Please God... Please let me see my Sarah. Please give me some sort of sign of what I need to do.
The only answer I found was at the bottom of a small, silver, metallic flask.