It is interesting, the things that are boring…repetition, bowing…the slow "square-dance", etc. all that I find comforting and nourishing. It is a dance. It is courtly and repetitive, but that is part of its beauty. It takes me out of myself and stands me in the river the generations of the faithful in Christ who have preceded me. I get join their prayers, reverence Christ with them, bless Christ with them, honor the saints with them. Everything there unites me to them and through them back to Christ…and Christ through them forward to me.
Now don't get me wrong…there are times my mind wanders, or I nearly doze off on my feet…but I am reminded of the old elder, and Saint, I believe who said that when a brother next to him in the services was overcome with sleep, he just laid his head down across his knees and let him rest. Sometimes we get to be the knees. Sometimes we are the one overcome with weariness.
Sometimes we are like a lone candle in the sandbox whose flame has flickered out…and we grow cold and hard, but as other candles are set near us, their flames still alight, the substance still "weeping" and being transformed into illumination, their collective warmth softens us so that even if we no longer quite burn, we can bow again…and indeed as often as not, some dear soul draws close and touches us so that our flame rekindles. So even if we cannot find the light shining in us, we can still keep our place in the sandbox until the Lord has mercy, and through the prayers of our neighbors (seen and unseen) we may grow warm again, and perhaps even shine again. It is hard on us to find ourselves in need and effectively helpless to help ourselves. Thank God He has prepared knees to support our weary heads, and the prayers of the faithful that are everywhere lifted up…for us though we are unaware of them.
Sometimes when I feel depressed and abandoned, and there are times I do I often find myself looking at my icons…feeling a little guilty that my patron saint and his holy fellows have to put up with me. Then I remember what I was taught very early on about Saints and their icons….we don't choose them, they choose us. And then the wonder overwhelms me, and my eyes fill with tears to consider St. Seraphim, St. Nectarios, St. John Chrysostom, St. John of San Francisco, St. Herman, and many others, especially the Blessed Theotokos chose to enter my life, to be helpers for me…and I feel like the watcher in the Dream of the Rood when the cross began to bleed…"And I so wounded and stained". Then I think, "Lord have mercy" that you have to send such heavy hitters to me…I must be in great need of help….but there they are, all present in the life of this sinner, earnestly desiring my salvation right along with theirs. Then I recall what they suffered, what they endured for Christ…and my suffering, while it is quite my own, and while it is not necessarily relieved…I do realize, just like theirs, mine too is endurable in Christ…and however bad it gets, for however long, it is not wasted…it is not dumb suffering, but because of Christ always bears in it the seed of redemption and transformation since He knit my suffering little or great, to His own.
All the formalities of our worship speak to me of heavenly things, especially the icons, and more especially those of the iconostasis. They perpetually remind me I am not as I ought to be. If I were then my eyes would see past the icons to the spiritual place where their prototypes dwell, my heart would pierce any reading or utterance of Scripture to hear the voice that spoke to the Apostles directly, the angels on the doors and walls would be as visible to me…perhaps moreso than the doors and walls…but they are not…so I know the fault is yet in me, and I, though in therapy, am not yet healed…and so I persist, knowing that behind/beyond the dance, the repetitions, the icons, and candles, and incense and bells is reality which my heart longs for, but my eyes are too weak to see unaided by all the rest, yet by them I am aided in participating in and trough them.
In truth we love the mountaintops. They are beautiful against the sky…but as beautiful as they are, they are places for visitation, not habitation. Life is in the valley. The orchards and vineyards are not planted where the soil is rocky and water leaps from ledge to ledge strewing rainbows…but down below where the water is tea colored and moves more slowly and more quietly. There the water is "over" itself and quietly saturates the land. Life is here, not on the mountain top, but in the lowest place. And where does that river flow from the valley…if not to the great and boundless sea, which has taken the lowest place of all.
Well that was all very solomn…here, maybe this will lighten your mood a bit: http://www.youtube.com/user/UncleRob?feature=guide#p/a/u/0/7rTZ7NFQMJ4