Always Standing

I am getting familiar with the words so I am sitting down.

In fact, I am sitting on my bed in the middle of a sunny Sunday afternoon, avoiding doing anything I had on my long list of things to do after Liturgy. I tell myself it’s a “day of rest” and all that. It feels legit.

I pick up a prayer book given to me by a friend and begin to read. This book contains an Akathist to the Theotokos I’m working through. I am just getting familiar with the words and the rhythm of it, the cadence, the language, the feel of the paper in my hands.

Rejoice, for through you joy shall shine forth!

Do I speak it aloud, I wonder? Do I whisper it to myself? Do I think the words, picture them in my head, bow, cross myself?

Yes. All yes.

Within a page or two, I have to stand up. I’m getting sleepy here, reading the words, making pictures in my head. I stand before the icon of the Theotokos that resides in my room. The sun strikes her face just so, highlighting her lips, her eyes. I stop to venerate the icon, make my cross again.

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

I am still learning. I am always learning. Only a few years into my practice, it feels daunting. So many new words with each new experience– Kontakion, Ikos, Akathist.

Always standing. Not Sitting.

And this is what strikes me today. Not sitting. Today I want nothing more than to avoid all the built-up stress of chores, errands, responsibilities, emails unanswered, weeds that have overrun the yard after all the rain recently. I’d rather lay down, take a nap, stare at the clouds through the skylight.

Rejoice, radiant revelation of grace!

But after a few minutes of laying down, trying to nap, staring at clouds, I pick up the prayer book. I turn to the Akathist. I read a few lines and realize I am supposed to be standing up. Not sitting. Still, tell myself that I am just getting familiar with the words. I want to focus on the words.

Rejoice, for earth joins chorus with heaven!
Rejoice, never-silent voice of the apostles!

It’s the words, though, that move me from sitting. My body might feel tired and bored, but it turns out that my heart wants to stand, to rejoice, to enter in.
And so I do.

Rejoice, for through you the creation is made new!
Rejoice, for through you the Creator becomes a newborn child!
Rejoice, O Unwedded Bride!

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