My chrismation in a Western Rite parish began a journey toward beauty that ultimately took me beyond those walls. While many are led by their eyes, for my part, the strangeness of it all lead me in time by the ears… eventually to renew my love for the sounds of worship where hymnody – both as prayer and scripture, were balanced in motion, time and space to still the otherness within, and open my heart. And so I found myself beyond the comfort of my post-Anglican Western Rite in the midst of strangely beautiful OCA hymns… and the traditions of a parish led by a whole host of talented choir masters, arrangers and singers.
Bear in mind, surely many an opening of the heart begins as mine has (and no doubt resistantly remains no more than this!)… as an ever so small crevice, allowing no more than a faint breath of the outside to worm its way in. And as in a sheltered winter’s parlor where we seek relief by a fire only to find this creeping chill air just enough to overcome a welcoming warmth, so too in today’s more common air chilled corpuscles we find much the reverse! Rather we might just find enough warmth from the summer air seeping in that slit in the seal to thaw a touch of our ever elusive nouses… if only it were true!
There’s something in the hymns we sing – especially the slavic hymnody – that lifts the heart, expand the chest, fills the lungs and move the whole with the Spirit… and through these songs seems to deepen our experience of prayer. Prayer is so much more than words, than thoughts.. and a motion of our whole person towards God and His own… that in this motion – however it moves us in His service, but yes it moves us beyond ourselves – we might become persons of God and a common people.