I woke up in the middle of the night to find I’d been sleepwalking, knocking over tables and shattering glass and spilling food across floors, leaving my apartment a wreckage of spiritual hunger. Although it happened in an instant, this coming-to had been decades in the making, for the journey has spanned a much longer distance than these late-night hours or the square footage of my small urban apartment. It has spanned decades and nearly every region of Christianity. By the time I was eighteen, I’d been a Catholic, an inner-city Latin American Pentecostal, and a suburban megachurch evangelical. Later in my twenties, I’d burrow myself in a Southern Baptist church, then in a working-class charismatic church, then in a non-denominational congregation serving an elite university. In my mid-thirties, I’d enter into leadership at a high-brow upper-Manhattan Presbyterian church. Then two summers ago, turning forty, I was received by Holy Chrismation into the Eastern Orthodox Church, anointed of the same batch of oil that graced the Apostles. And now, waking from this long somnambulance of restless seeking, I dart frantic eyes about me trying to gain my bearings: Where am I? How did I get here? What have I been looking for?
When you think about it, strict rationalism poses a painfully narrow gateway for all experience, all reality, to have to pass through, doesn't it? What about the immensities of reality far larger than could fit through any such gateway, stubbornly refusing to be squeezed through? Things that fail the rationality test but that remain so relentlessly real? What happens when we confront the unthinkable thought of God, arrayed as much across the sublimity of creation as in the small still voice in the heart? The God who beckons "Come reason with me" one moment and then confounds all reason the next from a shattering wind? These are the realities that in my experience have registered as most real, most true, about the world. And I could only access them through faith.
Within minutes of arriving I was shaken by a poster with bracingly anti-Christian imagery: a caricature of the Pope, with derisive language scribbled around it. The message was clear: Christians belonged in the other camp, at the other march. ... If I walked out there and raised this poster, it would be the only piece of religious driftwood bobbing along in this tumultuous river of secularity. I felt suddenly vulnerable. How could I have brought my seven-month old child to this without thinking about the danger to which I’d possibly be exposing him?