bright voices

For a year I stood in services at the Orthodox church and listened. There is a sense in which it was like standing in my back yard, taking everything in.

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The difference was, I had never planned nor desired to enter into the particular "yard" of Orthodoxy.

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From my earlier vantage, from before February 2011, the Orthodox appeared like those churches in which people group in order to venerate an institution. I had done my share of that kind of grouping and venerating. My wildest dreams didn't hold a picture of a gathering around an organism, a living Person, in the midst. That was supposed to happen in the future, in the Kingdom still to come. For me to believe there was a nascent way in which it happens now was against the rules of reality as I interpreted them.

Yet I stood listening for a year, and I pondered. There were voices in the corner, in the area of the room the Orthodox call the cliros. Human voices expressing not only whole passages and books of Scripture but the context, the story, which was going on in the landscapes and times those books and passages were penned. As if the wildlife and plant life and solar and lunar life and texture and wisdom of the nonfiction account continued to live.

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As if the history that followed a certain century were also caught up in and carried along, new leaf on deep river, with the events of one story. As if what I'd only ever before known were chapters fragmented from the true telling, scorched and shriveled by bonfires licking the hem and the bone.

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A few years back I wrote an essay about my Dad and his friend, the writer Richard Brautigan. In it I expressed my regret that no photograph remains of the two of them together. There are only stories. Knowing my dad, having grown up in context with his person, I have no doubt of the veracity of any of his tales. I hear his heartbreak and his joy and I naturally believe.

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This is how it happens, whether the offering of an account comes from rivers in the Willamette Valley or from roads traversing the Mediterranean world.

Even when the first ones to relate the amazement, back in a certain century, are people of lowest societal standing. Even when they are women who approach a tomb bearing myrrh.

Their voices still ring.

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Comments

Dee Ready said…
Dear Deanna, the voice of one astounded, awed, humbled by Mystery speaks loudly to us. Whether it is Mary of Magdala who is the first to realize something new in her world and who runs to announce this to others, becoming, for me at least, the first apostle. Or whether it is a Medieval artisan who chisels his faith into a cathedral. Their journey into that deep place within where Oneness dwells is akin to my journey and our voices merge in a great Alleluia. Peace.
Deanna said…
Oh, yes, Dee. Well said.