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Back in October, I attended an Orthodox Christian Fellowship meeting where I asked a priest for some advice on a relationship I was pursuing. I explained to him my worries and he told me this: “In any relationship, if the tree bears no fruit, it will die.” My following question was a query as to how I would know whether or not this “tree” was dead and he answered me with the one exceedingly complex word an impatient person never wants to hear: time.

Well, what the heck, priest.

Yet, I took his advice and here is my working conclusion:

Within my own spiritual growth, my unwillingness to let go of time has been my downfall. With this unwillingness comes anxiety, stress, and frustration as to when the ultimate moment of By George, I think I’ve got it! appears. I am coming to realize that one may never “get it” because then what is the point of the journey? Orthodoxy, and moreover religion for that matter, is not something to be “gotten”;  it is something to be pursued. Like growing a relationship, it takes time, care, and effort, and because the world is so diverse, all of these nurturing tactics differ depending on the person. If only it was all so easy: go to church every Sunday with the same homogeneous group of people who all believe the homogeneous thing you do, and you virtually have no issues with anyone because we are all homogeneous and believe in the homogeneity. But this is not what God intends.

He desires that you are challenged, because how then is it possible to make genuine attempts to discover His grace more fully and openly through the other icons of Christ He has created?

After spending a week at College Conference West, I am seeing why He has placed certain people in my life, whether they are Orthodox or not. They are part of the journey. Some are permanent and some are temporary, but regardless of their status they all play a role in how I grow in Christ and better yet, how Christ grows in me; and as time passes, the fruit the tree bears continues to grow as the people who love me nurture and water my soul.

Claire is a sophomore at UC Berkeley studying Theater and Performance Studies and English. She currently attends Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in San Francisco. Her favorite Saint is Saint Pelagia the actress and when not in church or the theater, she likes to spend her time exploring San Francisco, reading plays, and eating sushi.

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