Wednesday, August 15, 2007
The Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos
Classical alto recorder music wafts downward from upstairs and a breeze is sporadically gracing the lace curtains in the living room to dance a little bit. The morning started cool, but has turned hot and muggy. Typical Kentucky August weather. The cool part was a bonus.
We were up bright and early this morning, out the door by 6:15 am. to make it to Divine Liturgy for the feast. I was so pleased to be there. This is one of the big things about homeschooling that I love: Being able to keep the feasts in this way. After we enjoyed breakfast together at Church, we decided to take a walk at the University of Kentucky Arboretum. Particularly appealing since we will be studying botany this year. We've started, but not gotten very far yet.
We saw some very cool plants that I'd never seen before. Many of them were labeled, but of course I did not write anything down...this time. Next time we go, will be with sketch pads, so we can do some nature journaling. One plant was BLACK. Black leaves and these shiny black berries the size of cherries, but in tight clusters...not on stems like cherries. The plant was low to the ground. I'd never in my life seen anything like it. Can't for the life of me remember what it was called, or even if it was labeled.
The path at the arboretum is two miles long, a big circle. It was getting on towards lunch time when we were there, so we did not have the energy to make it all the way around. I think places like that should make paths like spokes of a wheel going towards the parking lot so that people of varying degrees of fitness, health and disability can choose how long to make their walks without having to strike out across the grass. That's what we ended up doing. Not a problem for me, but I could imagine it might be burdensome for some.
So, do I have any reflections on the feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos? Well, I love how Jesus is holding her, brining her into heaven in this icon. It comforts me to know that she's the prototype Christian, so that is ultimately my fate as well: being held in the arms of Jesus like a little child.
This feast, while not in Scripture, goes very very deep into Holy Tradition, and has many very early witnesses from the early Church. Just as Phillip was miraculously transported by the Holy Spirit after speaking with the Ethiopian Eunich, recounted in Acts, so the Holy Apostles were miraculously brought back to Jerusalem from the places of their preaching when it was time for Mary to fall asleep in the Lord. A time for saying goodbye. The Christians in Jerusalem faced great persecution but God miraculously protected their procession to her grave. After three days, the apostle Thomas arrived (late again!) and wanted to venerate her relics, which had been gushing perfume from the time she died. When the tomb was opened, it was empty.
For more information about this feast, the articles at www.goarch.org are always excellent.