Monday, April 28, 2008

Holy Friday 2008

On Holy Friday, Dr. Tim and I helped with the teenagers' retreat. (Fr. Peter was at the retreat for the younger children.) I managed to get through my presentation of St. Kassiane pretty well, even including the difficult three-page hymn (that's a short version—long ones can run to 14 pages). My favorite presentation of all the "Personalities of Holy Week" was Dr. Tim's penultimate, personable portrayal of Jesus. (Sorry for the unintended alliteration.)

"Jesus" started by thanking all his friends and saying it was great that they said so many nice things about him. Then he asked people to stand up (meaning the youth, but all the adults participated, too), pair up, and ask one another's forgiveness, the response to which was "May God forgive us both." After this exercise, he started talking about himself, how he was there with God the Father at the beginning of the world, being present at Creation. He spoke fondly of being friends with Adam, and how they would talk together in the evenings—because he, God, had to work during the day. He talked about how he created Eve from Adam's rib—then switched immediately to his earthly ministry as Jesus Christ. He said he kept asking where his friend Adam was, and was horrified to hear that he had died. "Death? What is that?" He explained death as the spirit, the breath God had put into Adam, leaving the body. "The breath that I put there!? I did not create death. I created life!" Then he asked the people where Adam's body was, and heard them say it was under the ground. He paced agitatedly across the floor. "My friend Adam—dead. His body under the earth—I've got to go get him!" He called out the Pharisees and Scribes, excoriating them for using their authority and knowledge of the Law to separate God from His people instead of working to draw them together. Then he enacted his crucifixion, asking God the Father to forgive the people, and calling out to Adam that he was coming.

I'm afraid I don't do Dr. Tim's presentation justice—I was moved to tears, because this is so truly what the Orthodox Church teaches about the Resurrection, which one can see on the festal icon: Christ, like a super hero, his garments flowing and white, stands above the broken bonds of Hell—its gates, keys, and locks—His hands grasp the wrists of Adam and Even who are being pulled from their tombs as the crowds look on: haloed Old Testament Patriarchs on Christ's right and those not marked by haloes on His left.

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Not blogging

I used to blog a whole lot (before this blog, even). However, once I became the wife of a clergyman, I felt rather ... exposed. Even if nobody else expected "more" of me, I expected more of me as a presvytera. So I ended up thinking more and blogging less. On the one hand, I miss blogging about every silly thing, but on the other hand, I realized today that I was following the "speak less" idea of the Fathers. Or, in terms of Fr. Thomas Hopko's "Forty Maxims," I'd tried the following:

5. Practice silence, inner and outer.
At least a sort of blogging silence.
17. Never bring unnecessary attention to yourself.
I feel so conspicuous when I blog as a presvytera, which I do whenever I blog. And that's not necessarily a bad thing, since it calls to mind my responsibility to provide a Christian example at all times (still working on that). However, I worry that people will take me too seriously as a presvytera, and not realize that I'm just a normal messed-up person, struggling just the same as they are. (And giving up, and feeling awful about it, and hating to go to confession, too.)
24. Don't complain, grumble, murmur or whine.
I'm still working on this in real life (my poor husband), but I can't complain about anything that happens at church, or anyone I know from there. (Not that there's much in the first place, but that feeling of restraint is definitely there.) Again, I have to think about what kind of example I set, not only for people who read my blog, but what precedent do I set for myself?
25. Don't seek or expect pity or praise.
29. Don't defend or justify yourself.
Oh, the main reason I blog. Attention! So other people will think I'm clever. (I'm usually only funny when I don't mean to be, or if you haven't heard me tell the same dumb joke over a million times.) So people will like me. Any other reasons for wanting attention, even though I'm not worthy of it. Maybe so that I will like me better, even though the only way for people to like me (including myself liking me) is to become a better person.

So I've been trying to change the way I blog. Without getting too high-theology religious (no offense to the seminarian bloggers out there...), and without losing the funny parts of my life, I want to blog about things which happen in such a way that I learn from them, that I become better because of them.

Especially now that I'm getting another kind of hat to wear, with its awesome responsibilities. I am terrified that I will not live up to the expectations I have of motherhood. (It doesn't really help that my mother has four college degrees, and had two jobs when I was growing up, and is more like the Energizer Bunny than a human being (at least, like lazy ol' me) when it comes to getting housework done—or work of any kind, really.)

Pray for me, a sinner.

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Marital Conflict

I still contend that Byzantine chant is not a good vehicle for Shel Silverstein.