Can we make tomorrow, a common day, a beautiful day? Truth will help us, a basic pattern of loveliness can give guidance, and all the particular joys of our lives can enrich the day.
In truth, without any compromise of that truth, can come glorious variation, forms of beauty, that make the world interesting. This week is likely to have a routine, but I am reminded to seek ways to give the day a good twist marking interest.
This weekend marked a lovely wedding of two friends and co-workers. * Last weekend one of our daughters got married. Both services used the same basic liturgy, what was in common much greater than the differences, but the differences were there. Orthodox** churches crown the bride and groom, but the crowns were stylistically very different, beautiful in different ways. In one service the betrothal and marriage took place at the front of the church, the other service had the betrothal in the back of the nave and only moved forward later. The music was similar, but one choir had a deep Arabic set of influences, the other Russian.
The marriage ceremonies demonstrated diversity in unity. Just as genuine marriage brings together the fundamentally different voices of men and women, the truth behind the liturgy brings together different cultural voices. Like the same song done by two different bands, liturgy varies, has different accents, but is gloriously recognizable. In unity, there is great possibility for diversity. The converts in the choirs or even in the priesthood add their own accents and experience: the West Virginian, the Texan varying the tone.
All of this is made possible by living creation using something shaped over centuries. The Church does not record the best choir and play that for every service. Each priest chants as he can. Every bride dresses as she chooses. The liturgy has changed very slowly from the earliest days of the Church, but over the centuries new hymns have been created. The best endures, the creative fusion of the saints and the faithful doing the work of the Church. All of this creates a standard form, but then we must pray and do the work. The work varies as we vary. Arabic with a US Southern accent can only be experienced in a few places at this time!
This is obviously true: I see the truth every week. The application to my life is harder, but necessary. I must trudge forward doing my duty to the truth, to objective beauty, and to moral goodness. That does not vary from age to age. The command to love my neighbor, even my enemy, never varies.
Still my neighbor is my neighbor and is (probably!) not the same as your own neighbor. Thankfully for you, I am not you! The working out of my neighbor relationship, beginning by not taking his parking space, will be different than for you. Tomorrow will be another day at work, much like many. How can I find a variant in the duty? How can I inspire some new accent to what must stay fundamentally the same.
I cannot wait to try!
*A graduate of Torrey Honors married a graduate of the HBU Honors College and both work at The Saint Constantine School! Hope and I were thrilled to see all our worlds coming together.
**Those that use the Eastern Rite, a few use the Western Rite.