For a long time I was following the Western calendar which starts the Church's year at Advent week 1. It's a little weird to think about the Church year beginning September 1 (regardless of when Advent begins). On one level, I'm incredibly excited to be beginning our new Church year: so many feasts, so many fasts, so much still to learn. On another level, I'm struggling to focus on the coming year in the midst of so much other confusion. With that preamble passed, let me tell you about my weekend.
I went back to the wonderful church on the east coast this past weekend! My dear roommate E. told me that his old calendar parish was celebrating the Dormition of the Theotokos this weekend! Seeing that our daughter was born on new calendar Dormition and we miss ed the services, I was over the moon about the opportunity to go and celebrate the translation of the Mother of Life into Life. What an incredible service!
I'm still getting used to seeing the Theotokos and the other saints as a regular part of my life and spirituality. I don't understand her, and I don't understand how people can be so caught up in their love of her...but I'm getting there. The lamentations at Vigil were both beautiful and profound. She is so loved and so mourned, and the wonder of the early Church is so easily felt in the words of each hymn. It was a lovely funeral service: both dead to this world, but more alive than ever before having passed over into the Kingdom. Hope was the word of the night in my mind, and she is such an image of that hope we have in Christ.
The next morning during the liturgy, I thrilled to hear the hymns again. Her icon was beautiful with the light from the stained glass window reflecting off of it and the light blue cloth decorating the stand. I don't even know how to express what I felt during those hours in church.
I want to love Her like that. I want to know what it means to follow Her example and say yes to God. I want to experience the love and grace that so many people have at Her intercession. I don't know what that even means or looks like, but the love of God poured out on a human being gives me hope. If a young, Hebrew girl can receive God into her life constantly point to Him, then we can do that too. God be merciful.