In the introduction to Beginning to Pray Bloom tells a story of his own conversion to Christianity.
“I suddenly became aware that on the other side of my desk there was a presence. And the certainty was so strong that it was Christ standing there that it has never left me. This was the real turning point. Because Christ was alive and I had been in his presence I could say with certainty that what the Gospel said about the crucifixion of the prophet of Galilee was true, and the Centurion was right when he said, ‘Truly he is the Son of God.’”
He goes on to say “. . . the impossible event of the Resurrection was to me more certain than any event in history. History I had to believe, the Resurrection I knew for a fact.”
In many ways I share this story. Like Bloom, the liturgical seasons played a role in my conversion. He was brought to a talk about Christ during the season of Lent (the season a few weeks before Easter). For me it was during Holy Week (the week of Easter). That season, a time of preparation for the church, was for me, a time of preparation for my own change of heart.
My parents divorced while I was a teenager and my world view began shifting. I no longer relied on anything that I had been raised to believe. My thoughts were consumed with skepticism and doubts. At the same time, I had good friends who were concerned about my spirit. They were praying for me and bringing me to their church services. But I was distrustful of both of the Orthodox faith I had been raised with and the evangelical teaching I was now coming into contact with.
Seeking to explore all this more I began to read the Gospel of Luke. I was struck first by how much of what I had heard in both churches was there, written down, 2,000 years earlier. And also with how powerful I found it. Something was stirring in my spirit, though at the time I was only reading out of interest and did not at all desire to be converted.
Alone in my room one Thursday afternoon, a totally ordinary day, I was struck with a sense that I wasn’t alone. In fact I was certain that God was there. I felt like I was on the edge of a cliff. To jump was to fearfully accept God. To decline was to stay on the cliff, to stagnate and die. It didn’t feel like I a choice anymore than it is a choice to breathe. I had to jump.
That night I went to my Orthodox church, and as they always do on the Thursday before Easter, they read the stories that lead up to Christ being crucified. I was teary eyed and trembling. The story had become real. Now I was part of it.
It has stayed real. In all my doubts I return to this moment. An encounter that I can’t explain but that changed completely the trajectory of my life.
It is at the same time comforting yet uncomfortable to make decisions everyday based on an experience and an understanding of the world that I can’t explain. But like Bloom says, I am certain that something happened that day and is still happening in me. It is undeniable and so for me Christ in me in undeniable.