For a self-professed (and, well, baptised) Orthodox Christian, I really haven’t been an active participant in church life. This Easter I had my first full service. I came a little late, after The Holy Fire had arrived and was shared amongst the believers. Stayed until the very end, though admittedly I wanted to go home somewhere close to 3 a.m., because my very comfortable yet still heeled boots were causing me pain.
This picture, taken in the low light of the church, may fool you into thinking that it’s got four lampada candles in it. In reality it’s just one. It’s standing in the corner and reflecting off of the church’s walls.
Aside from staying awake for the service itself, I also kept vigil over the candle holder above. During big services people come and go, and many of them want to light a candle, so candle holders get filled really quickly. The are women, workers of the church, who keep an eye on these candle holders and take out the candles that are close to burning out. I’ve been asked by one such lady to keep an eye on this candle holder – I stood right next to it. It sounds like an easy enough job, and I’m not saying I was overwhelmed, but it was a new experience. I needed to make sure that all the candles were upright, or at least not melting the nearby candles nor dropping wax on the floor. And as mentioned above, I needed to make sure that the ‘older’ candles were taken out to make space for the new prayers.
Closer to the end the lady who asked me to help her took care of me as well as she could. She gave me a piece of cloth to wipe my hands with – the candle holders are heavily oiled to ease the cleaning of them, so my hands were covered in oil. She also made sure that I didn’t leave the church without a burning lampada. It’s a tradition to take the Holy Fire back home with you.
As I exited the church, I saw the amazing view of hundreds of people with candles and lanterns and baskets standing in front of it, waiting for their kuliches (special Paschal baked goods) and Easter eggs to be blessed by the bishop. Unfortunately, my battery was giving up by that point, and my phone wouldn’t let me take a picture.
I didn’t buy a kulich this year, nor did I dye any eggs, so my Easter breakfast looked like that. Two sandwiches with butter, cheese, and marmalade, a cup of black tea, and a tiny cup of cottage cheese. And, well, some sweets.
My “proper” Easter breakfast came eight days later – today, actually. I finally bought a kulich, and I had a chocolate egg remaining. Still no dyed eggs, though. I’m sure this oversight isn’t as gross as my other ones, so the merciful Lord will forgive me.
Christ is Risen!