Friday, April 29, 2005

Out of the depths have I cried unto Thee, O Lord...

From yesterday's high, crashing back into reality. I will not be able to attend any more services until the Agape Vespers on Sunday -- and even after that, I won't be able to stay as long as I'd like.

I drove back, that whole 40 miles, this morning, just so I could be at the Royal Hours. That was good till about 11:00 a.m., and then I had to come back home, in theory, so I could bake kulich (but I didn't. I did some laundry, then spent a lot of time on a prayerbook I'm making for myself). And I've spent the afternoon kicking myself for not having hung around for the Vespers of the Unnailing, which took place at 3:00. The Greeks do something very beautiful -- my former ROCOR parish didn't do this, so I don't know if Russians have this custom -- the Greeks have a structure that represents the Tomb of Christ, and right after the Royal Hours, they decorate this Tomb with flowers and set it on the solea in front of the Royal Doors. At the Vespers of the Unnailing, they take the icon of the Body of Christ down off the cross, process around the church with it, and place it in the Tomb. Then, at night, everybody goes up to venerate the shrouded Body, and during the Lamentations the Tomb is taken off its stand and paraded out into the street, while the entire church follows it holding candles and singing, "Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us." The Tomb is processed around the church, then held high above the door so that everybody can pass under it. At the end of the service, everyone gets a flower off the Tomb.

I could have stayed and helped decorate the Tomb. I could have had Orthodox fellowship with people I really enjoy. Instead, I was Conscientious and came home, and have been wallowing in isolation ever since. This Lone Orthodox business is FOR THE BIRDS. I want my Pascha! I want fellowship! I want to be with other people who know how beautiful an Orthodox life is!

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Surfacing (glub)

A comment from a new subscriber (Hi, Mimi!) reminded me -- oh, yeah. There's a world of blogs out there, from which I have been noticeably absent lo these past two weeks. Hello, time to rejoin the human race.

Well... No, that hasn't been my problem, exactly. My problem has been more, the Dative Case in Russian, followed by the Instrumental Case, and the attendant humongous vocabulary lists. Tell me, who in their right mind starts to study Russian when they are pushing 60?!?!?!

And Holy Week hasn't helped. In fact, neither has Great Lent. It's just been the most mixed-up, squirrelly Lent I think I've ever experienced. Nothing earth-shattering, apart, of course, from having my son's Significant Other explode in my face because of the comments I posted about my son's situation on the OrthWomen's list. (Still haven't heard from her, BTW.) But you know how, when you wake up late, you spend all day trying to catch up? That's how all of Lent has been. Now it's Holy Week, the Bridegroom is at the door, and never mind running out of oil, I can't even find the dratted lamp.

Fortunately for all of us, but especially a scatterbrain like me, God is God; and being God, He is so phenomenally merciful and doggone good. I went to Liturgy this morning in a parish that's 40 miles away, which I attend every other week (the parish that's closer has Liturgy every other Sunday, so it works out). This particular parish is in Saco, ME, right on the southern shore of the state, and it's about an hour's drive from where I live in Rochester, NH. I like the priest because he is very conservative and very aware of the need for a spiritual life, as opposed to some of the Greeks I've met who truly believe the Church is about preserving Greek culture.

For reasons I have yet to fathom, this parish has Holy Thursday Liturgy at 6:00 a.m. Not too big a problem for me, since I'm a morning person anyway, except that I do have to be up at around 4:30 a.m. so I can leave the house by 5:00, to get there by 6:00. That didn't happen today, but even so, I only missed about the first 15 minutes. So I get there, they're just reading the Epistle, and then that long, long Gospel (just think of Christ on the cross, if you want to think in terms of long -- must have seemed like all of eternity to Him), and then comes the Cherubic Hymn.

Now, there are three people standing at the Chanter's Stand, but it's pretty obvious none of them have a clue what to do next. So yours truly, former choir director and person-who-sang-before-she-could-talk (according to my aunt), started singing. Great Entrance occurs, and the next Big Hymn comes, as we all know, right after the Epiclesis: "In thee rejoiceth." By this time, I've figured out that apart from the two priests celebrating, I am the only person in this building at this time who knows the music, so I sing a bit more strongly. Finish that hymn, and about five minutes later, I feel a tap on my shoulder. It's one of the people from the Chanter's Stand: "Could you please come over and give us a hand?"

OH SURE. YES! ABSOLUTELY!! Ask me if I want to breathe! The only reason I wasn't there faster is that I haven't learned to fly. After Liturgy I received several comments on how nice my voice was, and why wasn't I singing in the choir, to which I answered, quite honestly, "They sing too low for me." And they do. Last time I tried to sing that low, I got nodes on my vocal cords and had to stop singing for two years before they healed. But you know -- it was so nice to sing again as a cantor, something I haven't done since Fr. Dean left in 2001 (I acquired the nodes under his successor).

Thank you, God, for letting me use this particular gift today. I appreciated Your heads-up that maybe this Lent wasn't the bust I feel like it's been.