I read, with some incredulity, a comment on my last post, which said, "Oh, but [Matins of the Crucifixion] is so beautiful!" Beauty does not come to mind when I think of this service. What does come to mind is a wish to be elsewhere - understanding that the betrayal, trial, and Crucifixion were necessary for salvation, I would rather get on to Great Friday. Great Friday is sad but beautiful, as funerals can be sad but beautiful. And joyous, because we know the end of the story already - as we leave, we're already saying to each other, Kalo Pascha (Happy Easter), and Kali Anastasi (Happy Resurrection). Holy Thursday, by contrast, is a tale of torture and murder. Not beauty.
I think perhaps my faith has matured in the last year, and that perhaps it takes maturity to appreciate beauty where there is none evident. To my surprise, this year was not so painful as I remembered. This year, the hymns recounting the betrayal, the scourging, the mocking, the crown of thorns and the cross, seemed as if they were balanced somehow by the often repeated and many variations on "But Lord, show us also Your Resurrection!" Almost every hymn seems to end with some variation on that. "Glory to Your forbearance, O Lord!" There is a light behind the clouds, so to speak, that I don't think I ever noticed before, or at least not to the extent I did this year. Maybe I'm more of an optimist this year. Or maybe, I saw it because I was looking for it, because someone told me "Oh, but it's so beautiful!"
Kittyboy knew exactly who this was, too. I know he signed it, but I think he also SAID "Jhe-jhe!" which would be a first. I know I heard a nice loud "AH-MEEN!" right after Father, towards the end. Kittyboy was just good as gold, considering he was up two hours past his bed time. The service was almost three hours long. Husband, down in the pew with him, kept him occupied with lighting the candles after each Gospel reading. Kittyboy loves candles, and at two years old, he lights his own every time we come to church, and sticks it in the sand all by himself. So Husband let him be acolyte-in-training tonight, since Father had no acolytes. Kittyboy lighting candles served two purposes - it gave him something to do, and it gave Husband a bribe - "Do you want to light the candle when Father's done? Then you need to be good so we can stay in church!" Just as I always ask him, "Do you want communion? ("uh huh") Then you need to be quiet and stand nicely!" Church is a really easy place to use such bribes. There's always something he wants badly enough to polish his halo for.
My favorite exclamation of the night, after AH-MEEN and Jhe-jhe was "WOW!" First as Father came out with the large wooden crucifix on his shoulder, and then repeated throughout the procession. WOW! indeed.
Well, I thoroughly abused muscles and joints today by first digging holes for several shrubs and a new lily bed, and second by standing for three hours. I'm going to bed. On to Great Friday - when we move in to church for the day!