Featured Author of the Antiochian Archdiocese: Fr. John Oliver
Fr. John Oliver is the priest of St. Elizabeth Orthodox Christian Church, in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. He is the author of numerous articles and essays, and of Touching Heaven: Discovering Orthodox Christianity on the Island of Valaam, published by Conciliar Press. A graduate of St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, he joined the faculty as instructor in Old and New Testament and American Religious History. He and his wife Lara have three daughters and one son.
Fr. John Oliver also broadcasts the Hearts and Minds podcast on Ancient Faith Radio.
by Fr. John Oliver
from Touching Heaven
The curtains fill with faint breeze and tease away from the open window, then hang still again. I cannot sleep. In several minutes the clock beside my bed will ring as I have programmed it to do. I hear no sound but the soft rustle of swaying leaves. Time has passed unnoticed. It is night-one hour before the Easter Pascha Liturgy.
I dress, then move quietly through the house. There is nothing to take to the temple but the usual-joy from the astonishing events that will unfold this night, guilt from another Lent of scattered effort, and hope of meeting Christ, who welcomes the eleventh-hour people. Somehow, though, feelings are irrelevant. Indeed, something infinitely more interesting is moving toward center stage. The dark corners in every fold of the universe rumble in anticipation as the priest readies his vestments and the choir arranges the hymns.
I pat my pockets, listening for the familiar jingle of coins and car keys. The money is needed for a meal at an all-night restaurant; the keys for transporting my hungry body there after the Liturgy. I walk through the living room, brushing with my fingertips the wall holding the icon of the Mother of God. Traveling light, I open the front door and step into a humid Florida night. Faint blue-and-white shades of television screens flicker from nearby homes. It is the only evidence of life I can see, and I imagine that they shine upon the bodies of sleeping men and women.