When I was working on my dissertation I was studying the etymology of the verb "to heal." Working on a doctorate in counseling "to heal" is at the heart of the matter. I was searching word roots in the Old and New Testaments and doing some other research to that end. I was intrigued to find one day that "to heal" shared some ancestry with "to work" in the Old Testament and "to worship" in the New Testament. Being that I was still Protestant at the time this all made sense to me inherently but I had trouble putting it together with the theology. That word "work" was particularly pesky at the time.
I remember working on one particular piece of my paper and I must have rewritten it 3 or 4 times. I'd write 12-15 pages and then just scrap the whole thing. I was so frustrated with it. I kept wrestling with this relationship between healing, working, and worshipping. (It seems so easy now. It's hard for me to remember what a surprise it all was to me then). Finally, I sat down with the book of Jeremiah (one of my favorites) and I prayed. Jeremiah 6:16 says this,
This is what the LORD says:I stopped. I was arrested by this passage. I began to research the book of Jeremiah more fully. I called my friend who was a seminarian at the time and I said, "What's the ancient path?" (Little did I know at the time that that friend was wrestling with the decision to become Orthodox. He later told me that it was that passage that confirmed his heart's desire and he became a catechumen shortly thereafter.)
"Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls...."
Once a passage like that gets into you it just won't go away. So as my search continued you can simply imagine my surprise and sense of home when I met Father Paul for the first time on a tour of an Orthodox Church nave. He said, "This is where we do Liturgy. The word litrugy means 'common work' or 'common worship.'" I don't know if he saw me staring at him at the time or if he saw my jaw drop... pages and pages and hours and hours of dissertation work... I was standing in the middle of my dissertation. I was looking at the Ancient Path.
I didn't finish my doctorate. I became Orthodox instead.
I'm getting out of bed now. Liturgy awaits. : )