How God Has Worked in My Life: Coming Back to My Roots
By Caye Caswick
A little over a year or so ago, I reached age 40 and began some soul
searching. I decided to make a few life changes. For Christmas I gave myself a great
gift-I quit smoking. In addition, after someone dared me to take advantage of a new health
care benefit at work, I began seeing a therapist. I harbored a lot of anger towards my
mother, who had been a career alcoholic. It was time to deal with this issue.
I decided to look into my mother's past for clues about her alcoholism.
So I began emailing my mother's church friend, Helen, whom my mother knew in the 1940s and
50s. They were both cradle Orthodox. However, they both married Catholic men and raised
their children to be Roman Catholic. As a child I attended Catholic Mass with my family
but also Russian Orthodox Divine Liturgy with my mother and grandmother. My mother and
Helen lost touch sometime during the 1960s when my mother began to drink heavily.
As I corresponded with Helen, she encouraged me to attend Orthodox
Lenten services. This would teach me about Orthodoxy and refresh my fractured and distant
memory of it. I started attending St. Luke just before Great Lent in 2002. In April I
participated in the St. Luke Women's Retreat at The Loretto Center in Wheaton, Illinois.
During the retreat I had a talk with Father Harrison who suggested I visit my parents'
graves and forgive my mother for her past transgressions. I thought it was a wise
suggestion; however, I put it on the back burner for a while.
One day while driving home from Divine Liturgy, I had a startling
experience. I was at a stoplight, and I broke down into a major crying jag. I thought I
might have to pull the car over, since the tears would not stop. I realized God was
trying to tell me that I needed to forgive Mom. I could actually see myself kneeling at
Mom's grave and could hear my apology to her.
About a week before Mother's Day I felt it was time to visit my
parents' graves. I knew what to do and exactly what to say. I even knew what to wear and
the place at which I should kneel by her grave. I also knew that I needed to become
Orthodox. I would have been baptized into Orthodoxy years ago if Dad's church had allowed
him to marry Mom in the Orthodox Church. It was time to rectify my religious situation.
Thus, on August 11, 2002, I was Chrismated into Orthodoxy at St. Luke Church. Helen, my
mother's long-ago friend, drove from Cleveland with her husband, Ed, to sponsor me.
During my soul-searching period I also felt the need to learn more about
my father's family. So I began researching his genealogy, a task that turned out to be
quite fun and educational. This led me to find an old wallet of his. Inside were some
photographs of the house his parents bought while he was in high school. Recently, that
same house was for sale again. Not thinking I would ever get it, I put in a bid for it
anyway. Guess what? My father's old home is now my new one. I've yet to find the village
my Slovak relatives originated from, but I'll succeed some day.
I believe I'm now Orthodox and also living in my father's house because
God led me to these places. I won't say He is that obvious in my life very often. Yet
there is no denying His one very powerful and personal visit amid my tears that day in the
car, a visit that changed my life in so many ways.