Each year from January through the end of February I spend many of my evenings going to my parishioner’s homes to conduct a yearly House Blessing. The family gathers around a table upon which is an icon, a candle, some smoking incense and a sheet of paper with the names of the living and the departed whom the family wishes to be remembered by name during the service. About halfway through the short service a member of the household walks before me carrying the lighted candle and as we progress through the home I sprinkle Holy Water, blessing each room, closet, bed, car and the occasional startled cat!
If I have never been to a particular home before I rely upon Mapquest directions (no GPS for this poor monk!) and more often than not I get lost somewhere along the way! The problem is that when I don’t see a street name for which I am looking I panic a bit early, resulting in my turning back around or going down the wrong street. I have learned to allow for extra time on my House Blessing trips! I have seen that I am not alone in being lost… many today feel lost. In an age where people are searching to find their “true selves” there is a lot of flailing around about how to pursue this elusive self. We run from fad to fad hoping each one might open the secret room in which we will encounter ourselves.
What we are pursuing is authenticity. Unfortunately, we are often our own stumbling block in this pursuit! We say that we care about others and yet rush to tell the latest rumor about someone thereby assassinating their reputation. We say that we care about the environment and then toss cigarette butts out the car window failing to realize that butts ARE litter! We say that we want to grow and then cut ourselves off from others as if we think that we can grow in isolation.
We cannot be at home with ourselves or feel whole so long as how we live does not correspond to what we believe. Authenticity is not a commodity that we can get off a shelf in a store!. Rather, it is the slow interweaving of our inner and outer lives. When driving to a House Blessing at a new home now I chant “Stay calm. Don’t panic.” Perhaps that would be a good mantra for many of us as we struggle to authentically know ourselves through life? Stay calm! Don’t panic! And don’t rush! Allow for some extra time along the way!