The Road to Emmaus

In my thirty-odd years, I’ve lived in six American states and one unincorporated territory, for a total of 23 separate dwelling places in 15 towns. The longest I’ve lived in any was a little over five years, and the shortest was three weeks. I’m often asked “what it was like” and whether I liked all that moving about, but the honest truth is that I don’t really have much to compare it to, not yet, anyway.

Really, even if I had a basis for comparison, I don’t think I ought to like it. Placelessness is one of the afflictions of the modern world, and while it has always been a characteristic of the professions which defined my family during my childhood (the military and Christian mission), I don’t think of it as a proper shape for the life of the human person. We were meant to be local people living in a locus, a place which is our home not merely because we park our cars there, but rather because we park our souls there.

It’s my hope that I get to park my soul in Emmaus, Pennsylvania, for a good long time.

I spent the first two-thirds of my life as an Evangelical Protestant Christian, the son of missionaries, and the most recent third as an Orthodox Christian (still the son of missionaries). I consider myself a Southerner, having been born and living the majority of my life in various areas that either are now or used to be Virginia. (Emmaus was legally Virginia for three years (1606-09), but no one knew it at the time, and the town wouldn’t be founded for another 150 years, anyway.)

I’m a husband and a father, and I love the mystery and ministry and joy of both vocations. I don’t consider myself as any sort of advanced spiritual person. I am a priest, but spiritual advice I give is always secondhand, passing on the stuff that seems to me the most useful from what has been given to me. I’ve had some good teachers.

Before I became a priest, I had a rather bewildering variety of professions, including (but not limited to): newspaperboy, ditch digger, McDonald’s cashier, day-old bread store cashier, columnist, technical writer, web designer, finish carpenter and styrofoam sculptor. I once got a job as a waiter but never worked a day. I was a professional theatrical technician/stagehand/lighting designer/audio engineer/carpenter/flyman/master electrician/box pusher for 10 years, and of all my former professions, it’s that one which probably made the biggest impact on who I am and how I live. Now, I’m a priest.

Somewhere along the way, I got a B.A. in English Language and Literature, minors in Religion, Classical Studies and Ancient Greek (NCSU ’01), most of (but not all of) a B.A. in Communication, and an M.Div. in Orthodox Theology with Distinction in Church History (STOTS ’07). (All that probably sounds more impressive than it really is.) I was also present at the canonization of Saint Raphael of Brooklyn (2000), and that changed everything.

For two years (2007-2009), I served as the assistant pastor at Saint George Orthodox Cathedral in Charleston, West Virginia (during which time I authored the Christ in the Mountains weblog), and now I serve as the pastor of Saint Paul Orthodox Church in Emmaus, Pennsylvania. I love Emmaus, and I love the valley on whose southwest edge it perches.

I also like to play the mountain dulcimer, though I can’t claim to be very good at it, and I like to keep fish, though I can’t claim to be very good at that, either.

If you’d like a somewhat more official version, look here.

Addendum: In the interests of keeping a record somewhere for such things, here follows a full list of all the changes in residence I’ve made.

  1. 1975 August: Born in Newport News, Virginia
  2. 1976 June: House to house, Newport News, Virginia
  3. 1977 August: Moved to Round Lake, New York
  4. 1978 February: Moved to Burnt Hills, New York
  5. 1979 April: Moved to Saratoga Springs, New York
  6. 1981 July: Moved to Grafton, Ohio
  7. 1981 December: Moved to Churchland, Virginia
  8. 1983 January: Moved to Grafton, Ohio
  9. 1983 March: Moved to Elyria, Ohio
  10. 1985 August: Moved to Santa Rita, Guam
  11. 1985 October: House to house, Santa Rita, Guam
  12. 1988 June to August: Furlough in Mansfield, Ohio
  13. 1990 August: Moved to Mansfield, Ohio
  14. 1991 August: House to house, Mansfield, Ohio
  15. 1993 June: Moved to Garner, North Carolina
  16. 1998 December: Moved to Raleigh, North Carolina
  17. 1998 December: Apartment to apartment, Raleigh, North Carolina
  18. 2003 August: Apartment to apartment, Raleigh, North Carolina
  19. 2004 August: Moved to Simpson, Pennsylvania
  20. 2007 June: Moved to Charleston, West Virginia
  21. 2009 June: Moved to Allentown, Pennsylvania
  22. 2010 June: Moved to Emmaus, Pennsylvania
  23. 2012 October: House to house, Emmaus, Pennsylvania