Friday, March 7, 2008

Bible Study

After months of trying I finally made it to a bible study the other evening. The first time I went it had been canceled and we weren't on the notification list (that has since been fixed). Then we all got sick and then it was Tad's turn to try and then...and then...and then...our life seems to be filled with and then's. So finally I was able to go. Even at that, there were enough "and then's" to make me about 1/2 hour late but, well, it is an Orthodox bible study...I didn't miss that much I don't think. There were five other people sitting around the dining room table with our brand spankin' new Orthodox Study Bibles. One of the five was our hostess' grandmother who only spoke Ukrainian but had a wonderful, warm smile and wasn't happy until she had refilled my glass with water. At one point she was consulted in Ukrainian about an old Ukrainian proverb that Fr. Greg remembered but she didn't quite get the gist and shared a sung prayer about her guardian angel instead. I was just glad someone could speak with her and understand. I really love being in an ethnic community when their ethnic is showing. It made me slightly wistful (again) to think of my own PA Dutch heritage passing slowly away.

Now I've been to..I don't know...a gobzillion bible studies in my life. But this one had me stymied. Everything about Orthodoxy is so different from anything I've encountered in the church before that I figured my insights on the book of Galatians would be a bit off the mark. So I kept my mouth shut...until I was asked to read, that is. Now at that point I was a a bit stuck. The Orthodox prefer to chant the readings during Divine Liturgy with as even a tone as possible so as to keep the reader from relaying his own interpretation of the scripture. But what about in a bible study? Normally I would gather up all my lectoring and dramatic reading experience and give the listeners a nice flow of verbiage and inflection to chew upon. But what do I do now? I chose to tone it a down a bit but just was not able bring myself to read it in any kind of flat manner. I'm sure I'm the only one who noticed and cared but it brought home to me just one more little aspect of Orthodoxy.

Then we came to the end of the book of Galatians and the end of the evening's study. Fr. Greg announced, "Let us pray" and everyone stood up. They proceeded to chat for a few more minutes and I thought perhaps I had heard him wrong - maybe there wouldn't be a closing prayer after all - until suddenly everyone turned around and looked, I thought, at me. Now this was an interesting turn of events. I stood there awkwardly for a moment until it occurred to me that maybe it was the old everyone's-actually-looking-past- me-at-something-else trick. So I also turned to see the family's icon corner toward which all were facing in order to face East to pray. Aha! I mumbled along as best as I could all the prayers that are beginning to sound familiar and feel more like home. It was a good evening but next time I think I'd like to bring Tad along. It's good to have someone else feeling just as awkward and new alongside me.

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