At this point when I attend services I sit in the back, next to my favorite icon of the Theotokos and I watch, a lot. I love watching. It might be the writer in me or maybe it’s the introvert. Introverts and writers are watchers, after all.
It’s fascinating the see the various levels of interaction and action. When entering, some people move quickly to a seat, others make a quick run through of all the icons, some linger at one particular icon.
Personally, I only know a few icons in the room so I hit the ones I know, chatting them up and make small talk with at least one other. I’m getting there.
During the Liturgy, some perform the sign of the cross without fail every few moments, some cross infrequently but when they do so they perform it three or more times in succession. I have gotten to where I cross myself (once) without thinking whenever the Trinity is invoked so that’s pretty cool. I take that as a sign of some familiarity building.
I think my favorite part of the service is when the priest walks around the church aisles, using the censor, sprinkling holy water, carrying the Bible…any time he comes through we follow him, he’s not just walking around, we’re all shifting our focus together.
That being said, the hard thing for me is to not watch as he passes me with the Scriptures. I want to watch. I don’t want to avert my eyes or bow my head. It’s not that I don’t believe it deserves the reverence this action implies or that I’m better than everyone else who does look down. It’s that I want to see. I am drawn to this. Seriously? I just want to go hug that book. First off, it’s gorgeous and secondly, it’s living and breathing to me. So it’s hard to let it pass by without seeing it, saying “hi.”
I wonder if it’s because I do not yet know that it belongs to me. Perhaps it’s like staring at a new lover while he sleeps for fear that he’ll disappear in the night. I want some certainty that what I feel is real. I want to keep that moment close, not forget it while I sleep. I suppose I am trying to place the image firmly in my head, memorize it’s importance and it’s weight so that one day, when it passes me I will be able to bow my head automatically, without peeking, because I’ll know it’s mine and it will not leave.