Attendance was sparse during my eighth visit to Vespers. I think it is because we are in the middle of August and people tend to go away on vacation. (I know Deacon Ken is away via Facebook). But the spirit of the worshipers was as focused as if we were among thousands. I stood, bowed and crossed myself in front of the Icon of the Dormition of the Theotokos, which stood on the table in the front of the Sanctuary. (That table has a special Orthodox name that Ken told me but I forgot so if someone can tell me….)
There is a constant chatter in my head during worship and I would really like it to stop so I can concentrate on worshiping. I have to constantly stop myself from observing and making mental notes and try to focus on Christ. This would happen in Protestant churches, too, but at protestant churches where there is no liturgy they give you more occasion for your mind to wander. Sometimes, at a protestant church, there is almost a feel of I am in the audience and you must hold my interest by entertaining me. You get none of that at Vespers but still my mind tends to wander.
Maybe that is why Orthodox worship is so physical - so you can be so involved both body and mind that you stay more focused. I know that Reader John is very much an inspiration for me on that front. I usually sit in the same place every time I am there , John sits in front of me- Well, whenever in the liturgy is says:
Calling to remembrance our all-holy, immaculate, most blessed and glorious Lady
Theotokos and ever-virgin Mary, with all the Saints, let us commend
ourselves and each other, and all our life unto Christ our God.
As Father Gary says this (or words like this), John looks towards the Icon of the Theotokos and when Father Gary says with all the saints John scans his eyes over the whole iconostasis (the front of the church with all the Icons on it) and he seems to thank each saint individually. He does this each and every time.
So maybe the more I involve myself in worship physically, the less the chatter will annoy.
Speaking of John, his wife Tammy talked to me a bit after Vespers and sold me some Jam. (see picture above). It is a fund raiser to support a camp which she worked at. I figure you can never have too much jam so I bought two. Here is the website about the camp:
When Vespers was ending and everyone venerated Icons before they exited, I placed myself as last and took my time in front of each Icon, crossing myself and doing a threefold Lord have Mercy in my head. I need to learn about St. Katherine and some other saints depicted so I can have some knowledge associated with my veneration.
Now, when will I have enough nerve to kiss the Icon?
I’ll keep you posted.