Sunday, April 20, 2008

5 Days - Palm Sunday

I've had a full day again, and now I'm tired and thinking about going to bed. Fair warning for those who don't want to read it - the next few days are going to be not about stitching, but about life (as usual) and a LOT about religion, specifically praxis (the living out of) during Holy Week. This week is our high holy days for the year, and I'm in that mindframe - and that's pretty much what I'm doing, too, being at Church. Tune in for your regularly scheduled stitchiness next week (I think.) Please do read though, it's actually interesting, and I'm explaining things as it's all new to me too.

I got up earlyish today to get ready for Church - Palm Sunday! This begins Holy Week, for us. Sober, beautiful...

Palm Sunday is a much bigger deal in the Orthodox Church than it ever was in any of my previous churches. Added to this, Troy's friends Daniel and Connor came and they're not used to Orthodox services...hoo boy :)
We did Orthros (Matins) and Divine Liturgy, as usual - except, being a Great Feast, a bunch of the hymns changed slightly, we skipped some things, and we added others. When you rely on the service book because half of it's in Arabic (as Troy's friends) did, that makes life complicated, and when the girl next to you (me) has the changeable parts all typed out. They didn't seem to mind though. The Church was decorated - I posted a photo of what it looks like a few days ago, and the things used in procession were decorated too which I hadn't seen. The lanterns on poles, crosses, etc, all had flowers and palms tied to them. I didn't get a photo, but you can probably imagine. When the service ended (and I've never seen the temple so full!!) we all headed out in procession - the lantern, cross, etc, bearers at the front, followed by the choir, and Abouna (Father), and then the rest of us carrying blessed palms and olive branches and candles. Around the entire block! It would have been interesting to watch for someone who didn't know, I think! Good fun.

After that we wandered over to greekchurch to see our other priest (who is baptising us), and have lunch, which was....interesting. Church politics are complicated. Anyway, that unhappiness aside, I learned how to make greek coffee, got to look through the new OSB (a Bible with the old testament translated from the Septuagint, which is what we use, rather than the later hebrew texts), decided what to make Jeremy for his name day gift and sorted through some of the formalities of our baptisms. Our names are decided once for all now, including their spelling, and now we just need to survive Holy Week and turn up on Saturday!
I hung out with Jo and a bunch of other friends, and got a new komboiskini - a prayer rope, which is used for counting rote prayers - same principle as a rosary, but less structured and we usually only say one prayer on it (Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the/a sinner), mine's 33 knots long and the size of a bracelet - which is why it's currently on my wrist, and going to stay there. I had one, and so did Troy, but I have beaded ones so I gave Troy mine when he lost his. Then he went and lost that one too, and I can't sleep with a beaded one wrapped around my wrist and leave it home a lot. So, I've got a new one now. This one's got a gold coloured diamond bead to join the loop, rather pretty. Prayer ropes are generally knotted, and made out of wool - usually black. They can be anything from 33 knot (the smallest I've seen, and the most common) through 50, 100, more.... I've never seen anything bigger than 100 knot one though!

Jo's mum invited us to their place for a while, so a bunch of us went there and she fed us - fish (it's a great feast, so fish is allowed, YAY), dolmades, coleslaw made without mayonnaise, chips and stuff, and best of all - honeycomb to chew on. YUMMMMM. I also got given a bunch of table covers in red gauze with gold embroidery, which were a gift they don't use and I like, and some greek biscuits (cookies) I forget the name of but have had before.

Finally we had the Bridegroom Service tonight - long story, but it's a solemn service that's held Sunday, Monday and Tuesday nights of Holy Week - only about an hour long, and remembering the events of the following days (ie we commemorated Monday's tonight) in the Gospel accounts. Weird, but true - our liturgical day is like the Jewish one, we start the day at sundown, so on the Church calendar it's technically Monday. Just...hauntingly beautiful. And we dropped in to see Niki (my godmother) who bought me some shoes (yay! they're gorgeous) for when I dress up after, and other practical things that I need, and wanted to touch base with me. I'm staying at her place tomorrow night after Church, so I can go to Church again in the morning - 7:30am start, I must be nuts. At least she only lives 5 minutes drive from the Church!

And now I'm home. And tired. And going to bed soon. I need to eat something though, preferably something with meat and dairy in it as I begin a proper fast (vegan) this week as it's Holy Week, even if I've been following a modified Rule before due to being sick. I'm sure I'll find something :) Mac'n'cheese with tuna maybe.

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