Monday, February 27, 2012

I’ll Fly Away

A few brief thoughts on Clean Monday—the first day of Great Lent in the Orthodox Church:

From Elder Amphilochios

"The spiritual life has great joys. You fly away and leave this world and don’t take anything else into consideration. You become a child and God lives in your heart."

When I read those words—You fly away—I couldn’t help but think about the old Gospel song, “I’ll Fly Away.” I hope you don’t mind the dose of humor this video brings to my reflections on the first day of Great Lent, but I’m just feeling all bright and shiny after being at Forgiveness Vespers at St. John Orthodox Church last night, and also after meeting with my father confessor a week or so ago. He always reminds me that I’m “brand new” after the sacrament of confession. Did I mention that he is Greek?

On my walk by the river this morning, I was wishing for two things: a breeze and a kite. If it was a windy day (and we’ve had plenty of them lately, but just not today) I’d go out and buy a kite and fly it like the Greeks do every year on Clean Monday, to celebrate freedom from the sins that weigh us down.

But with no breeze and no kite, I took deep breaths, smiled in the sunshine of this beautiful day, and thanked God for making all things new. I don’t think I’ve ever entered into Great Lent with this kind of joy before. Father Alexander Schmemann calls it a “bright sadness,” but I’m not feeling the sadness right now. I’ve had enough sadness for a while… bring on the brightness!

There’s a good article by Aaron Taylor in the Guardian that explains a bit more about Orthodox Lent:

“A season of bright sadness.”

Psalm 142:7 says, “Bring my soul out of prison that I may praise Thy name.”

I know this post is a crazy mix of spiritual and secular words, music and images, but you know what? So are most of us. We are spiritual beings, but we are also human, and it's our fallen humanity that Christ died to restore to the beauty He created in the beginning. So, I’ll close with these lyrics by Kris Delmhorst, from her song, “Everything is Music,” which she adapted from a poem by Rumi, “Where Everything is Music.” I love the line that says, “Why do you stay in jail when the door is wide open?”

You can listen to Kris sing it here.

Everything is Music

We've come to the place where everything is music
Everything is music, let it play.
Why do you stay in jail when the door is wide open?
Let the beauty that you love be what you do.
Stop talking now, open up the window
The one right there in the middle of your heart
Give us your hands, sit down in this circle
You know you got no need to keep yourself apart
Today you wake up sad and empty, don't go back to sleep.
There's a million ways to kneel and kiss the ground.
Don't worry now, about saving all these songs,
There's so many more just waiting to be found.
And if all these instruments should disappear
We would still hear something coming up from way down in the ground
Because we've come to the place where everything is music
Everything is music, let it play.

I’m trying to finish my novel by the end of March, so I’ll be writing writing writing during these first weeks of Great Lent. And I’ll be thinking about Rumi’s words, “Let the beauty that you love be what you do.”


Tina Fariss Barbour said...

A lovely post and a perfect blend of the spiritual and the secular!

I just purchased a book last week called "Bright Sadness: A devotional for Lent" to accompany me through Lent.

I'm glad that you are focusing on the "Bright" and are facing Lent with joy. Your post really gives off the light!

emma said...

thank you Susan .... and thanks for the reminder about Kris Delmhorst ..... I'm going to go find that album. I had almost forgotten about it, how much I love it.

Susan Cushman said...

Thanks for reading and commenting, Tina and Emma. I think I've seen that book, Tina. And Emma, I didn't know you were a Kris Delmorst fan.... my favorite song of hers is "The Drop and the Dream," but I love them all.

David T said...

Great post, Susan.

For some reason, I'd spent the last couple of weeks really dreading Great Lent this year. For some equally unknown reason, I, too, was given an extra dollop or two of the "bright" Sunday night and Monday--Forgiveness Vespers, the arrival of a new CD in the mail, having a chance to get out in the sunshine for an hour or so after work yesterday. Just a lovely day in many ways.

I hope this last month of writing proves fruitful for you!

Susan Cushman said...

I think lots of people dread Great Lent, David. It's easy to get caught up in either being overly zealous or just ignoring it, or rebelling against it altogether, but feeling guilty. I've been in both of those places, and it's not good for the soul. And no one is blessed by gloomy navel-gazers. Looks like another beautiful day today:-) Thanks for reading and commenting.

Susan said...

Susan, loved this post so much. I needed a reminder that we are spiritual, human beings. Wish I could go fly a kite with you right now!