Sunday, April 27, 2008

Xristos Anesti! (Good Friday, Holy Saturday)

Alithos anesti!

No more days :) I was baptised yesterday, and my name's officially Kyriaki now. I've been trying to decide what to write for ages and so avoiding making this post.

Partly I'm exhausted but I don't feel that much more sick than I would expect after a week of long services and very little sleep.

Okay, recap.

Friday morning we went to Church...haha...oh Friday was a weird day. We got there - half an hour late - and they still hadn't started doing anything. The schedule had said that we were going to do the Hours (a particular service, we only do it for the greatest feasts) in the morning, but we ended up decorating the Epitaphion instead, which is the...well, the best way to describe it is a 4 poster table! it has a roof, and then we cover the whole thing in a carpet of flowers in different designs. I got a thousand photos, when I drag myself up out of bed and find the camera I'll post them. Somewhere between doing that, cleaning like mad (including the concrete of the carpark!), picking up the font from another church and then eating was about 3pm I think when we finally got to church. Jeremy, Father and I read Vespers while everyone else finished up decorating. Basically noone comes to our Good Friday services, unfortunately.
Anyway, after that, Jeremy looked at me and went hmm I think we better go home. So I went back with him to his place and crashed (in my clothes!) in the bed that was still made up on the floor in his living room, until he woke me up about four hours later - he'd done the dishes and had a nap but I was totally unaware of all of that. Sleep was good. I ate a salad sandwich, we picked up Troy, and at 9 we had the Burial Service, matins for Holy Saturday. A long service, with beautiful lamentation hymns, and a procession around the Church a couple times symbolising walking to the tomb. As we left we got flowers, and hung around talking for a while, then went in search of my godmother who was not at other-church so we went to her place and I passed out on the floor.

SATURDAY. Hoo boy. I can try to explain but it's all a bit of a blur so I might wait for a photo recap for most of it.
I got up about 8ish, had a shower and got dressed - bathing suit, baptismal clothes and then a jacket and long black skirt over the top so I didn't look too weird for the hours before the service itself. We got there, early, and I wandered around freaking out. I'd forgotten when we invited the other priests that priests don't *do* just being guests - so we had three priests concelebrate our baptism :) That was wonderful. Father noticed me freaking out though so he said Kyriaki come help me set up. I don't know that I actually did anything, but it kept me sort of busy wandering around and helping people figure out where they were, and finally...we sat down in the front row, Father talked to everyone, and we walked out the back, I shed the top layers, and we started the first part of the service. The Orthodox baptismal service is kind of long, but basically it starts in the foyer, facing away from the altar, renouncing the devil and having prayers read over you. Traditionally you spit on the devil but we just kind of breathed on the ground instead...spitting's messy :P We turned around, pledged ourselves to Christ, knelt, said a few more prayers and got up to say the Creed. That all done, we wandered up to the font at the front of the Church. More prayers were read, and then I sat down because Troy was getting baptised first. When he wandered off dripping to dress again, it was my turn and after a few more prayers I climbed up and down into the tub, and stood there. My godmother rubbed oil on every part of me she could get to, which felt really really weird. Then for each member of the Trinity I knelt down as far as I could without not being able to breathe, and Father threw water and oil over me, then I stood back up again. By the time I got out I may as well have been put fully under, I was that wet! I climbed out into a sheet and towel held by my godmother, and had crosses marked on my face in a cross, my nose, mouth, ears, hands, legs, feet, back...and probably other places that I don't remember! Everything that was done had a prayer that went with it, and everything meant something. The final few things were putting on a new white shirt, and my cross, which is buttery smooth yellow gold and sooo pretty.... anyway, that done, we ran off for me to get dressed, and came back to finish the service. Honestly, after that it's a bit of a blur. I remember the procession around the baptismal font, and standing in front of that altar while the Gospel was read, and Father threatening in a whisper to marry us since we were already there, in white... When I get the photos, my memories will make a bit more sense I think.

Everyone came up to us and wished us kala paradiso (happy paradise, you don't say 'congratulations' because congratulations are only temporary), and kissed both cheeks, and we escaped into the other hall. We just sat around, ate fruit and nuts and nummy pita brought by one of the ladies, drank coffee, and got given presents - we have such generous friends.

After that though, we were exhausted. Everyone went to their respective homes, and we rested for a few hours. I grabbed noodles on the way home and ate them rapidly so I'd get to eat them before I needed to begin the fast for taking communion. Annoyingly, I got really hungry at about 8pm, and couldn't do anything about it! About 9:30 we got a call from Jeremy asking to meet at Troy's place (halfway between) as he was running late. It was bucketing down with rain so Dad and I jumped in the car as fast as we could, and drove through huuuuuge puddles. By the time we got down there it had stopped raining though, so that was good. I went in, grabbed Troy, and then Jeremy got there so we jumped in his car and drove to Church. We were still early - 'arabic time' amuses me. I'd left my candle home (silly kyri) but there was some decorated ones at Church so I picked one up and we started the service, sitting with my godmother and daniel. It was one of those services where not understanding the arabic (and it was mostly in arabic) really didn't matter. Every now and then a hymn or something would be in english (thankyou, Jeremy and Abouna), and I'd catch up to where we were in the service. Wonderfully, it wasn't raining for our procession (though apparently it was for the one at my other church), so we went out to have some more of the service outside...and then back to the Church door, where Abouna took the role of Christ, and banged hard on the doors of the Church telling them to open up. The people inside (the devil and hades, basically) yelled back who is it? "The King of Glory!" "Who is this King of Glory?" "The Lord strong and mighty..." eventually, he 'smashed the doors open' and we all ran in, still chanting, and swung all the chandeliers which was good fun. FUN! The service went from that, and a LOT of chanting of Xristos Anesti/Al'Masih Qam, which is actually a longer hymn:
"Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life", to the DL service (ie Mass), except we kept chanting Xristos Anesti instead of other hymns that we would do normally. A very joyous service, good fun. And we got mentioned in the which point I promptly turned bright red...and I took Communion for the first time. It' To hear 'the handmaid of God, Kyriaki...' is...there are no words to describe :) The peanut gallery in the choir applauded as we took Communion, which was weird but nice. As we walked back to our pew the lady that sits in front of us informed me that I could get my own antidoron (blessed bread, we grab it as we come back from Communion and eat it/give it to those who can't take Communion/both), so she didn't need to do it! We'll get some for our friend who usually sits with us though.

After the service was over we collected eggs, kissed a thousand people saying "Al'Masih qam" "Hakan qam", smashed eggs with one another and ate them (they're boiled), ate baklava, talked, and then escaped over to Greekchurch where we had been promised double fried chicken by our friend Nikos. And it was there...and the bishop was there too, so we kissed his hand...and ate food...and there was sushi...and sashimi, which the bishop was trying to get my friend Andrew to eat...and it was so much fun and we were soooo dead by the time we finally escaped at 4am. I got home about 4:45, and fell into bed.

Today has been peaceful but I feel very dehydrated for some reason, and I'm exhausted for obvious reasons. I'm hoping to get a good night's sleep tonight and then we'll see how the week goes :)

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