Monday, October 24, 2005

In which Magda does something fun, because she wanted to

I think one of the reasons I like to have things scheduled to do is to have something to look forward to. I don't have to think, "Hmm, what shall I do this evening? Nothing? Okay, well, I could play on orthodoxwiki or read library books or watch tv or play on the computer..." I'm left somewhat bored. I know, prayer ought to be on the list, but right now prayer (longer than my silent "instant messages" to God) is more of a duty than a free-time activity.

But, you say, there are all those free-time activities that are bogging you down. Well, yes, I'm a contradictory sort of person.

I like doing things for points. The points don't necessarily have to mean anything, but at the end of the activity I can see a number that's higher than when I started. When I bake, I have a baked good for a point; when I type, I have a number of pages; when I clean, I have parts of the bathroom which are Officially Clean for the next five minutes (good enough for me!); when I read, I have a growing stack of books in the "to be returned to the library" pile (currently four, and about four in progress ... elsewhere); when I work out, I go to the machine that tells me I have lost 50 calories (forget the one-hour idea, though, mr. elliptical) at the end of the workout.

Prayer doesn't have points. There are no levels to complete. No little taskbar gets filled up, like it does in the Sims when you work at something like 'creative' or 'mechanical.' Sure, there are the knots in my kombouskini which I wear more as a homing device for my guardian angel than a tool for prayer.

At some point Lou gave some talks and recorded them onto cds; I am typing them out (minute by minute), and he has some excellent insights which seem new and fresh to me. Also, by typing them (and having to go back and listen to make sure I'm getting the right words and punctuation, etc.), I get to basically read slowly. I get to spend time with the one verse or passage he is exploring with his class. I get to see the Scripture blossom through the Liturgy. For instance, he mentions Origen's discussion of the difference between 'as we ought to pray' and 'what we ought to pray,' or, in other words, the manner in which we come to prayer, and the words we actually bring to God. The 'as we ought' comes before the 'what we ought' chronologically as well as in importance: the priest entreats us: "In peace, let us pray to the Lord." In peace is how we ought to pray. This is followed by the petitions, which themselves are what we ought to pray. It seems very beautiful and simple, but how many times have I heard that simple entreaty and never thought about it?


Tonight I went to the women's choir rehearsal. I think I love chanting. Mary Beth was in the chair, and Mary seemed to be the bouncer, glowering (as much as she could between cracking up herself and the rest of us) as she reminded us we should listen to hear Mary Beth. We made plenty of mistakes, but Mary Beth's finger patiently pushed us back to the beginning of the phrase or waved us to be quiet so she could go over the tricky parts (there were lots) over and over. Sometimes I think I talk too much.

There was a little doll someone had left in the narthex; Nectarios had come by, and he gave the doll to us for a mascot. After he left, we decided it should be Nectaria. She would come to the November 20 service, but she had to be dressed all in black. It was very entertaining until Mary smelled the doll and decided it smelled like puke, and everyone moved away. Suddenly not so endearing. ... Maybe you had to be there.

There was one especially tricky part, and Mary suggested that you could do it staccato. Everyone tried it and it sounded like it would go well with a bad '80s video, like "Crimson and Clover," and like I was in the Twilight Zone, especially when they all did it together.

It's already easier to read the basic notes, and I'm identifying some of the larger interval jumps (not how big, but that they are more than just the next highest), and I can mostly recognize tempo markings. AND THEN THERE'S JUST A LOT OF WEIRD STUFF. *sigh* But I will get it.

I came out feeling like a penny dipped in vinegar: clear and happy. The best part about chanting, for me, is that I don't exist any more. There's just the music. When I'm in a group, even when I'm listening to myself, I can usually only hear the others, and it feels like I'm singing with their voices. It reminds me of Pascha: everyone being all together, and having less self and more God.

Then I went to the gym and did the elliptical machine with a book, which was so much more wonderfuller and lifted the tiniest weights in another three repetitions. There was a basketball game going on, and Peterbird was done with his stuff, so we came home.

Ooooh! When I came home this evening and was carrying grocery-things up to the apartment, on my last trip down I opened the door and saw two huge deer moving somewhat majestically across the "road" to the east of Dendrinos. Of course, when I came back with my camera, they were gone, but, wow. They were huge, taller than I, as far as I could tell, and very round about the middle. I didn't see any antlers, and there may have been more deer.

Going back to Lou's talks: he says that through the Liturgy, there is a change. First we ask God to give us what we need, then we thank Him for helping us. Today I realized that we're saying "Please" and "Thank You."


Blogger Mimi said...

No little taskbar gets filled up, like it does in the Sims when you work at something like 'creative' or 'mechanical

Wouldn't it be cool if it did. However, by the end of your post, I think your taskbar was filled up indeed!

Ellipitcal with a book sounds fab!

Tue Oct 25, 02:23:00 PM CDT  

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