Wednesday, December 16, 2009
One Giant Leap
I'm a catechumen now. Sunday I came forward during the liturgy and Fr. Justin said some awesome prayers over me, and then I moved from one stage of my life to another. "That's one small step up to the iconostasis, one giant leap of faith into the Mystery." So, I was nervous and my stomach was hurting, which always happens when I get anxious. I've been known to get so nervous that I make myself sick and have to run to the bathroom and evacuate the contents of my stomach; however, that didn't happen then, thank Heaven.
So, it's right after the...Homily, I think, and then there's the Augmented Litany...
:::checks the little liturgy pamphlet:::
...yeah, right about then, Fr. Justin motions me forward. So, I step forward and I look up at Fr. Justin and he's SHAKING HIS HEAD AT ME! Oh no, how did I screw up? What did I do? I'm just standing here.. ok, I should look down then... no, not too far down, because he's still shaking his head! No wait, he's nodding now! Whew. Ok, I'll keep looking down. Now he starts to recite the awesome prayers, of which I can only remember one part... it's about me letting go of my delusions, which is why that one part stuck in my head, probably. So, Fr. has his hand on my head and I'm imagining that with these prayers he is conducting God's grace straight down from Heaven...
(7:39 pm :::phone rings:::talkie talkie talkie:::hang up::: 8:11 pm)
...and into me like water flowing through a canal.
Now here is something that's decidedly odd. I had completely forgotten about vespers and the basics of Orthodoxy class tonight until I received a call from a friend a few minutes ago. And here I've been, all involved in writing about becoming a catechumen. How could I have my mind on this and forget so thoroughly about vespers and class tonight? It's weird, in an unsettling way. It completely... I mean COMPLETELY slipped my mind.
Anyway, back to the story. We didn't rehearse this or anything, so I didn't necessarily know what to do when Fr. Justin removed his hand from my head and disappeared behind the Royal Doors. I stood there in front of the altar for about two and a half seconds, and then I high tailed it back to the bay windows and into the safe sphere of influence cast by my sister Cheyenne who was waiting back there. We waited for the choir to sing the Litany of the Catechumen, which always makes me tear up because it's so beautiful, and then I told her that it was my cue to leave.
As we step out into the bookstore foyer, the choir starts to sing the Cherubic Hymn, which is my favorite. I had mentioned earlier to Cheyenne about how pretty it was, and she went back into the sanctuary so she could hear it better. I went into the library nook and choked back a few tears. The Cherubic Hymn always makes me cry; it's just so heart breakingly beautiful. From now on though I'll have to listen to it from the library nook, but I can still hear it fairly well.
So, I settle down there on the bench area where the fold up chairs and the coats go and read a book while the liturgy proceeds. When it's over, Leah takes me home and on the way I start to babble on about everything in a fairly incomprehensible way until finally I blurt out, "Fr. Justin was shaking his head no to me. What did I do? I was too close to the altar... or I shouldn't have looked up... OH! Duh... I forgot to cross myself... I didn't put my right hand on my left hand... ramble ramble ramble..."
Leah said, "He was blowing the Sign of the Cross over you. From left to right and then up and down."
I shut up and pondered that for a few seconds. Ah. Not shaking his head... he was blowing the Sign of the Cross. Left to right. Ok, it just seemed at first like it was a "NO YOU'RE DONG IT WRONG!" gesture. Then when he nodded his head, seemingly in weary acknowledgement that I had finally stopped screwing it all up, he was blowing the Sign of the Cross then, too. Left to right, then up and down. How novel... to blow the Sign of the Cross. Come to think of it, I seemed to remember Leah telling me about that part when I asked her what I should expect. But you see, I'm retarded.