no such thing as bandits

Posted by on April 22, 2008


I don’t know how to write about Orthodox Holy Week, except to say that it is like a muscular yet gentle hand that grasps me by the wrist. Despite my paltry Lenten investment, the designed intent of Holy Week overflows with light and color into my lap, and also, I imagine, the lap of everyone who stands through these services.

Lately, and by surprise, my view into the Church looks like everything I will ever want or need to live. Maybe through someone’s prayers, or through the culmination of life at its most basic and usual progression, line upon line, and so on, the ordering action of my life, which usually goes forward at an imperceptibly slow pace, feels as if it has just been granted a gratuitous boost.

So vivified, I have also been working hard to get our apartment in better order before Easter, dipping into the dark spots which I have knowingly eschewed for so long. Yesterday I rearranged the furniture in our bedroom, vacuuming and dusting as I went along, tossing out old cough drops embedded in dust bunnies near the floor boards, symbols of the now-forgotten illnesses of February. I pulled out all the boxes of stored things from under the bed and wiped them down. The windows were open and spring air dispersed through our 500 square-foot apartment. When I was done, the room had more space, light, air, and health than it did before.

While working, a Midlake song fragment played on loop inside of my head:

Did you ever want to be overcome by bandits;
to hand over all of your things and start over new?

Yes, yes, precisely.

But “bandits” sounds like a word from the Wild Old West, and I know that there are no such thing as bandits who will do me the courtesy of removing my clutter all at once. I will have to carry on and put things into order myself. I will have to simplify and change until my last breath. I will have wrap my hands around the dusty, the firmly lodged, the difficult to reach, and the sometimes difficult to see. I normally try to get away with residing in a separate room from these compartments of disorder. I languish at the thought of them, and live a lesser existence in the spaces they leave me. But this week is a holy week, in which I am allowed to glimpse what life might look like if those spaces were to be restored to me. This week, especially after the easy lightness of confession, I understand and feel that the Church is capable of restoring those rooms to me, and not by magic, or thievery, but by giving me the joy and desire to engage the process myself. The Church stands with me. It bears me along.

Posted in: Orthodoxy, Uncategorized
  1. Ser
    April 22, 2008

    Oh, I love this, Julia. The “joy and desire to engage this process” yourself–what a great thought. And it is so true, isn’t it, that the amount of order in our mundane lives sometimes reflects our spiritual lives so well?

    I hope you have a blessed Holy Week and a wonderful Pascha!

  2. Molly Sabourin
    April 22, 2008

    Hey Julia,

    I’ve been missing your poignant observations! Ones like this:

    “I normally try to get away with residing in a separate room from these compartments of disorder. I languish at the thought of them, and live a lesser existence in the spaces they leave me. But this week is a holy week, in which I am allowed to glimpse what life might look like if those spaces were to be restored to me.”

    are why I check your site so often. If we don’t see you in Chesterton, have a very blessed Holy Week and Pascha!

    Love,

    Molly

    p.s. That is a fabulous photo, by the way.

  3. anna j
    April 22, 2008

    Hooray! My daily lurking has paid off today, with the reward of new Julia-wisdom . . . I have been eager to read more from your thoughtful brain, and I am grateful for your words tonight. Bless you for giving us pause to contemplate the living Church in our world.