Monday, May 12, 2008

Help Us, Save Us, and Have Mercy On Us!

The proprietor of this web log wishes hereby to inform his gentle and long suffering readers that he is in hospital. Upon full convalescence, he will once again take up his keyboard. In the interim, he invites you to peruse the archives or, better yet, to read a book.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Bright Thursday

As I've mentioned before, I'm away from my own computer, and thus have been relegated to a French keyboard, which, like all things French, is upside down and backwards. That makes for slow and frustrating typing. My hope had been to dedicate the week to literary descriptions of Pascha, but that is largely out of the question at the moment. For now, however, I can offer an excerpt from Chekhov's Easter Night:
One would hqve liked to see this restlessness and sleeplessness in all of nature, beginning with the night's darkness and ending with the slabs; the graveyard crosses, and the trees, under which people bustled about. But nowhere did the excitement and restlessness tell so strongly as in the church. At the entance an irressible struggle went on between eeb and flow. Some went in, others came out and soon went back again. People shuttle from place to place, loiter, and seem to be looking for something. The wave starts at the entrance and passes through the whole church, even disturbing the front rows where the solid and weighty people stand. To concentrate on prqyer is out of the question. There are no prqyers, but there is a sort of massive, chilishly instinctive joy that is only seeking an excuse to burst and pour itself out in some sort of movement, be it only an unabashed swaying and jostling.

The same extrordinary mobility strikes one's eyes in the paschal service itself. The royql doors in all the chapels are wide open; dense clouds of inscense smoke float in the air around the big candle stand; everywhere one looks there are lights, brilliance, the sputterding of candles... There are no readings in this service; the busy and joyful singing goes on till the very end; and after every ode of the canon the clergy chqnge vestments and come out to cense the church, and this is repeated every ten minutes.

I had managed to take my place when a wave surged from the front and threw me back. Before me passed a tall, sturdy deacon with a long red candle; behind him the gray-haired archimandrite in a golden mitre hurried with a censer. When they dissqppeared from view, the crowd pushed me back to my former place. But ten minutes had not gone by eore a new wave surged and the deacon appeared again.
Translation from this edition.