Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Paschal Picture Post

Way too much has been going on with me lately. I haven't been able to keep up, let alone reflect on it. I've had a few moments over the past few weeks where I needed to take a step back from my figurative "plate" (which is overfull at the moment), so as to avoid burnout. I'm at that point in the academic year where I'm aiming longingly and determinedly toward The End Of The Semester. (3 weeks...just 3 more weeks...)

So, in lieu of a detailed post about the content of my work and/or home life, I am going to share pictures and a video (!!!--big deal for me, that.) which document this Paschal season for me. I posted last on Great and Holy Friday, with pictures of our just-then-blooming tulips. The next day, which was Holy Saturday, our tulips finally opened up! Well, a few of them anyway...

Ready to greet Christ's Resurrection...

Opening up toward the sun.

That same morning, I sang at Vesperal Divine Liturgy for Holy Saturday, where the plashchanitsa was still out from the night before, and remained so until that evening at Paschal Nocturnes. Parishes traditionally decorate the plashchanitsa (epitaphios in the Greek tradition, and referring to the shroud that has depicted on it an icon of Christ asleep in death) with flowers--the result is meant to bring to mind Christ laid in the tomb. Here is ours:

All Saints Orthodox Church, Olyphant, PA,
Holy Saturday 2012 --
I love how vibrant the flowers were this year :)

I also attempted to capture some audio (via video) of our church choir singing the absolutely beautiful Paschal hymns. For any readers who are unfamiliar with Orthodox Christian worship, in Orthodoxy the choir helps pray the service with the clergy (on behalf of the people), and all of the music is traditionally sung a cappella. Being an Orthodox choir singer is one of the things that is fundamental to who I am--it is that important to me--the role it plays for me is bigger than I can adequately describe, in terms of keeping my sanity in this life. 

Today, I managed to upload one of the videos (which again is really just audio, as the video's image is of our choir loft ceiling) to my YouTube account--an account which until now I only had by virtue of being a user of Google products. On the tech side of things, I feel very accomplished! This is my first video upload ever to the interwebs...long overdue, no doubt. The piece in the video is the 9th Ode of the Canon for Matins of Holy Saturday...I know, that's a mouthful! Put more simply, it's one of the brief but utterly beautiful hymns that captures the Paschal spirit so well. It is a hymn to the Mother of God, written from the perspective of her Son who is now (at this point in Holy Week) laid in the tomb. Anyway, I'll let the words speak for themselves, but here is a video containing audio of my church choir singing this piece, often referred to by its first line, "Do not lament me, O Mother" (I am singing soprano/melody in this was a small group that morning, so it may just be me on soprano, I can't quite remember now. The words of the piece are typed out in this post just below the video.):

Do not lament me, O Mother, 
seeing me in the tomb, 
thy son conceived in the womb without seed, 
for I shall arise 
and be glorified with eternal glory as God. 
I shall exalt all who magnify you in faith and in love.

So, that was Holy Saturday. Then came Pascha! Yay! I have no pictures of that celebration, but suffice it to say, it was a beautiful occasion.

Bright Week (the week immediately following Pascha) was truly bright in that the sun came out and stayed out for most of it! Which meant the entire tulip bed woke up, their little heads lifting themselves up to the sunlight (fitting, no?).

Bright Thursday: click on it to see it enlarged--it's worth it :)

And they've been open ever since, though my husband tells me their time may be coming to an end, as early spring transitions into mid/late spring in our neck of the woods (God willing this week, in terms of temps at least!). This afternoon I did get two more pretty shots of our other tulip bed--this one devoted to red lovelies, right by our flag pole. The afternoon light lit them up so beautifully today...

My husband has a good eye--these are so picturesque placed like this.
And note the other tulip bed in the background on the left--
bright happy blooms, even in the shade.

I didn't edit this photo at all. They really are this vibrant, even more so if
you click to enlarge. :)

So, even if these tulips go soon, for now they somehow help me participate more fully in the Paschal season, which lasts for 40 days after the great feast itself (which for us this year fell on April 15th). 

That's it for flower images from me, for the time being. Before I end this post, it occurred to me, as I was describing earlier how important to me church choir singing is, that today is also my 7th (liturgical) anniversary since joining the Orthodox Church. I was Chrismated into the Orthodox Church on the Feast of the Holy Myrrhbearers in 2005. As I posted to Facebook today, that moment was a paradigm shift in my little corner of the universe if there ever was one. And, in the spirit of this post, here's a picture from that day 7 years ago:

Cathedral of the Holy Virgin Protection, NYC
(my first parish home)
Feast of the Holy Myrrhbearers 2005

Now I need to go and get mentally ready to face the week. (3 more weeks...just 3 more weeks...)

But, as it's still Pascha (yay for feasts that last 40 days!), and I need to remember this as I face the stress of another over-crammed week (Aside: I will likely reread this post throughout the week as a reminder of beautiful, green, vibrant, melodic, uplifting things.), the only appropriate way to end this post is to say, again:

Christ is Risen!!!


  1. Many years!! I know about burn out :( Hang in there!!! love the flower/flower bed/house pixs - how beautiful! Hugs and Indeed He is Risen!!

    1. Aw, thank you Elizabeth! I appreciate the support and prayers :) And glad you liked the pics!

  2. You have a lovely voice. It does sound like just one on the soprano, so I'm presuming that's you. :D

    I attended an Orthodox wedding once and got to hear the way the chant was handled. Loved it, too, honestly. It was beautiful.

    And as a former Baptist/evangelical who was confirmed Catholic during the Easter Vigil of 2008, I know what you mean about paradigm shifts as well as the joy of adding anniversary to the celebration of the great feasts. Happy anniversary of your Chrismation! :)

    1. Aw thank you Jenna! I'd love to hear you sing some sacred music at some point--you chant, if I'm not mistaken, yes?

      And thank you for the good wishes on my little anniversary :) It sounds like you understand the significance of this sort of conversion in much the same way I do...the kind of significance you can't ever do justice to in description. It, and thank God for it.

  3. Thanks so much for sharing your tulips, which were joining with mine, I know, in celebrating the Resurrection! I was really glad to have the hymn video AND the words...every year I am trying to learn more of these favorites of Holy Week and Pascha.

    1. Hello GretchenJoanna! Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. It's nice to see new faces/visitors here in my little corner of the web.

      Yes, the tulips have been such good company this year--I'm so happy my husband planted them, as they really livened up my early spring.

      And yes, that hymn I posted is one of my absolute favorites each year when it comes around. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

      Christ is Risen!