And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord throughout the length of my days.
I drove to Pleasant Hill to pick up James at work, so he could catch the train to visit his beloved, Kimi. I guess I ought to pay him for the excuse to breeze out of town on a Friday (don't tell James I said so), the countryside opening around me like a favorite story.
I used to get there taking I-5 south and then exiting onto highway 58, which zips over a bridge, past stores and a Dairy Queen, and where you navigate traffic on a couple hills heading toward Dexter and Oakridge. Driveable, but no fun. Finally I asked James the back way to the farm. Now I give myself 35-40 minutes and go via Springfield, along a short stretch of the McKenzie and past Jasper. The last section on Wheeler Road is a wonderful meander. It's worth planning ahead for.
Even though clouds sent down spatters this time, I got a certain sunny sense, as always. A freeing sigh escaped my lips. The pastures, fully greened with deciduous borders, the slopes and ascents, the health of the natural. It encompassed me, in my car on the road, passing through.
I stood in church with the choir, my whole self striving to produce the right sounds. Although my voice can usually blend it isn't strong, and when I'm the only alto, and because we sing without other instrumentation, this choir-ing is quite a focus for me, quite a road to embark upon on a Sunday. Yet the distinctiveness of acapella Orthodox singing resides in the service itself--the divine liturgy--in which every morsel is an aspect of the ancient gospel telling.
I used to sing with church choirs of various flavors; it was work and fun and performance, mostly strong and inspiring.
The choir in Orthodox services is utilitarian; it directs the flow. When you think about it, the priest is utilitarian also; he is the particular priest who takes the forward position. We in the choir are the priests providing musical flow. The rest of the congregation standing with us are the priests sharing our communion, gathered around what we believe all the evidence points to.
This doesn't negate the space inside each human for examination. Amazingly, amid this company the inner space can truly open, if the will is there. If I'm available inside myself to follow what I'm learning about this gift of the liturgy, of this road that truly meanders, I can as far as I'm able to draw near.
Meaningful facets reflect around me, and I continually marvel; there are galaxies here. My immature squeaking--though it can interrupt others seeking to enter in--can't, thankfully, sully this road, this journey toward this universe. This place I will ever long to be.