Friday Meditation: Marie Dolcetti Koros
I have learned that I am certain of very little - and those things that I am certain about are general concepts that are vague and that I probably haven't had the courage to question or examine.
Our fall retreat where Hannah Mills spoke about climate change, and Father Thorne’s sermon in November about Abouna Yostos and his question “What time is it?”, spoke to an urgency I felt within myself to do something. But what? Everything seemed so broken, there were wounds everywhere. What would anything change? What could it possibly matter? These doubts and fears grew within me, and for a long time this year I have been caught in a cycle of doubt. I have been lead to question much of what I held irrevocably true. If nothing we do in this world changes anything why try? Why bother even hoping if my heart will be broken anyway? I began to doubt the value of everything I was doing outside the Chapel. What is the point? Why care? Kristen’s visit brought the realization that action takes courage. Courage was not something that I felt I had.
For a time this year the Chapel and the experiences and community that come with it felt like a separate part of my life. Walking through the Chapel door felt like entering a different world. Along with my coat I shed the trials of the day, left the physical world behind and relished in the music, the hymns, the community. In here, the things that mattered in the world on the other side of that door didn’t matter. They became irrelevant, if only for a time.
I spoke of the Chapel and of the rest of my life as two separate worlds. They seemed so vastly different, so unrelated. Bringing them together felt impossible - how could I when even the language spoken in here is so vastly different from what is spoken out there? Here we speak of universals, of love, eros, fear, truth, of good. The Chapel was an escape. How utterly wrong to see it this way. This is I see now the very opposite of what this space ought to be. What a realization! I have of course heard you all say it many times in many ways, but it is a realization I have had to come to slowly.
For many months now Father Thorne’s comments about the secular and the sacred have further problematized this separation for me. The notion of the secular completely in the sacred and the sacred completely in the secular. If the secular and the social are wholly present in one another does this contradict the notion of moving beyond the social and political within the Chapel? Can they both be true? This is further problematized for me in the notion of the Chapel being a social space. We are in community - by definition social, together. Its seems to me that the Chapel is itself social.
Slowly these two worlds began to come together. I believe that they seek the same things, that our search for the good, for community, for love and respect of one another is also sought on the other side of that door. What were two different worlds have now become two different spaces.
I now find myself in an elected position with the student union here at our university. I will speak frankly and say that I doubt the value of the work that I will engage in this next year. What can it change? What good can it possibly do?It is in many respects easier in the secular. Distinctions are clear, there is a clear set of expectations, guidelines, I know where I stand in relation to those around me. This position with the union requires me to have a position, to make distinctions. I am reactive, negotiating between opinions and guidelines and expectations. Out there, I have assumed a stance of calling out. I call out distinctions, making them more visible. This calling out is in part I believe, expected of me in this role, but I also recognize my own freely given complicity in it. Within the Chapel we partake in what I think is a calling in - in community, together, we call one another in moving beyond the differences we experience outside the Chapel.
I struggle with how to reconcile these two spaces, space that are and ought to be very different. I wonder whether I can live authentically in both spaces - and partake in both without betraying the other. Can I be authentic to myself - am I capable of holding the two together and being faithful to both?
I have spoken with many people about this over the past couple of weeks, so please bear in mind that many of these ideas are not my own, rather, an amalgamation of ideas from many people. The Chapel and what I have thinking of as the rest of my life from a dialectic. They inform each other, each lending itself to the other. They are however vastly different in their seeking out of this good. Each space uses a different language, each has different expectations, ways of interacting, speaking and even thinking.
The Chapel allows us to be vulnerable, to trust others, to doubt and to fear. In fact I believe the Chapel requires these things of us. In many ways the Chapel has become a space I need. I need a space to be vulnerable, to doubt, to question. To dwell in uncertainty, and for this uncertainty to be okay. And I believe that I will need it even more given the nature of my position with the student union.
The Chapel will remain for me a place of refuge, but not one from which I can escape the world. I do not have answers to any of the questions that have followed me this year. Only that the same urge to do something is still strong within me. I want desperately for the vision that we hold in the Chapel to inform my life. But I have a deep fear of losing this vision.