Rachel Pollak, our Community Coordinator, was baptized at St. Lydia’s on November 6, 2011. She gave this testimony at Dinner Church that evening.
This is my testimony.
I heard the good news for the first time in a college seminar. In 2001, following difficult events both worldly and personal, I had arrived at a dark place in my thinking. I felt that I had exhausted the logic I’d been supplied with thus far, and the world seemed disordered and bleak beyond repair. Night after night I lay on my bed thinking, “If we all just die in the end, what is the point of any of this?” Then, in a lecture delivered during a Russian Lit course I was taking that year, I learned that there was a group of people who had a way of looking at the world in which death was not the most important thing that happened in a human life; a people who lived within an entirely different ontological framework, in which fearing death, or inflicting it on others, were not valid motivations for making decisions. He drew two overlapping circles on the chalkboard, with one circle representing the old world order, where people oppressed and feared one another, and wielded power over each other and hoarded resources, and the other circle representing the new world, the Kingdom of Heaven, where everyone loved one another equally and everyone lived forever. He said that Christians believe we are living now in the place where the two circles overlap, and that both worlds exist simultaneously, one reality layered on top of the other.
Astonishing, I thought. Who are these people? They must be crazy. I had heard of Christians, but I thought they were mostly dead, and the ones who were left were living in far away places without libraries.
My astonishment turned into curiosity once my distinguished professor, who was clearly a holder of many library cards, disclosed that he was a practicing Christian. Huh, I thought, and a secret door revealed itself in my heart. It stayed there, closed, for a long time, but I could feel it inside me all the time after that.
I responded to my curiosity about this mysterious tribe the way I had been taught to, with my library card. I spent the rest of college reading St. Augustine, who said in his Confessions, “You were within me when I was outside myself,” and St. Paul, who said, “Pray without ceasing.” I wrote these things on slips of paper and pinned them to the closed door.