Wednesday, April 28, 2004

I was off yesterday and took a walk down by the Santa Fe "River," which is still running. It was very green with that early spring green that's not quite at home in the world yet.

The tentative leaves
of the first green of spring,
one half light and one half green,
remind me of you.

Monday, April 26, 2004

I was working a lunch shift today and ran some drinks to a table for another server. As I dropped off the drinks, I heard one of the customers says, "They don't want to be embodied, you know. They just want to go home." I don't make this stuff up! Needless to say I dropped off the drinks and didn't ask any questions.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

The Santa Fe Farmers' Market opened today for the season! I love going to the market on Saturday mornings in the summer. For a desert, there is quite a bit of agriculture around here. I wasn't expecting much today, it being so early in the season, except some lettuce, eggs and maybe some crafts but I walked away with tomatoes, green onions, Mexican oregano, carrots, mountain mushrooms, lamb stew meat, fresh goat milk and a small cake of honey-blueberry goat cheese. There are quite a few characters there. One booth sells plants, small crafts and sage sticks and proudly displays a sign, "Temporarily out of free lobster." I guess it's their trademark. Then there's this really cute old lady with the smallest spectacles I've ever seen who sells colorful, handmade fuzzy hats. Another booth sells hats, scarves and jackets made out of dog hair that's been spun into yarn. It's actually a very soft yarn, but very expensive. Speaking of yarn, one of my favorite booths is a lady who sells beautifully colored, hand-spun, hand-dyed yarn. It's also a bit expensive but the colors are some of the most brilliant I've seen and I like working with the uneven texture of the yarn. There's also honey, eggs, fresh flowers and potted plants, handmade soaps, jellies and herb mixtures. There's usually a few musical groups playing for tips. Today there were only two groups, one playing bluegrass and the other playing Peruvian pipes and other instruments I couldn't immediately identify. Last year there was a group four or five girls playing Bach string pieces quite well. Everyone is usually in a great mood and you usually see at least one person you know. It's just great strolling through the booths in the morning sun, sipping good strong coffee, hearing the strains of music floating in the air and seeing the amazing variety of nourishment this desert has to offer.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

As can be guessed from the dearth of postings, I've been busy lately. Turns out working full time is well, very time consuming. I had kind of forgotten about that, not having had a very firmly set schedule for the last six months or so. In the meantime, it's full-blown Spring in Santa Fe, one of the greenest I've seen here. We've gotten above average precipitation in the last few weeks, the reservoirs are full and overflowing (the first time I've heard of that happening!), making the Santa Fe River run again. By any most other standards it's more of a creek than a river, but still, it has water in it, which is noteworthy around here. Even some of the acequias (old irrigation ditches) in town are running.

I took advantage of the beautiful weather a few days ago and went on a delightful hike with some friends. We followed another "river" and came to a very impressive (for New Mexico) waterfall. It was probably 12-14 feet high and was running with some force. You could, with a little climbing, get down to some boulders behind the fall and watch the water as it came down. It was late afternoon by the time we got there, so the light was perfect, full on the water but not blinding. The water, needless to say, was freezing but bearable in small doses since the day was warm. One of the interesting points on the hike was passing through a small clearing. On one side of the trail was the water with water vegetation and a large area of rose bushes. On the other side of the trail was a field of prickly pear and scrubby desert vegetation. Ample opportunity for metaphor and symbolism there, any takers?

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!
Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down!
Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is Risen, and life is liberated!
Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead;
for Christ having risen from the dead,
is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

I absolutely love the Easter Homily of St. John Chrysostom. It captures so well the joy and graciousness of Easter, Pascha. I also love how the Orthodox Church knows how to feast as well as how to fast. After the 40 day fast of Lent is the 40 day feast of Pascha. Fasting is not even allowed for the first week after Pascha (Bright Week). We feasted very well on Pascha. Our service ended at about 2 a.m. or so Sunday morning and we remained feasting until about 4 a.m. or so. There were copious amount of cheese of all kinds, ham, sausage, beef, and numerous desserts. I heard there was a salad of some sort but I didn't notice any. I finally got to sleep about 5 a.m. You know you've stayed up too late when noon seems much to early to have to be anywhere!

The next day was spent going from one feast to another. Started at noon with a wonderful meal with some friends, then went to church for one of the sweetest services of the year, Agape Vespers, then over to visit another church in town who was celebrating after their vespers service with even more meat, cheese and chocolate. Finished up the evening happily discovering Nelson's Blood, a drink concoction of champagne and port which Odious has so kindly found a name for.

And, as St. John goes on to say, the feast is for everyone, not just those who fasted and somehow "deserve" to feast:

Let us all enter into the joy of the Lord!
First and last alike receive your reward;
rich and poor, rejoice together!
Sober and slothful, celebrate the day!

You that have kept the fast, and you that have not,
rejoice today for the Table is richly laden!
Feast royally on it, the calf is a fatted one.
Let no one go away hungry. Partake, all, of the cup of faith.
Enjoy all the riches of His goodness!

So keep the Feast!! The joy of Pascha is so great that it takes at least 40 days to even begin to take it in, so don't be surprised if I keep writing about it for awhile.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Now all things are filled with light; heaven and earth and th nethermost parts of the earth; let all creation, therefore, celebrate the arising of Christ, whereby it is strengthened.

We celebrate the death of death, the destruction of Hades, and the beginning of another life eternal and leaping for joy we hymn the Cause, the only blessed and most glorious God of our fathers.

-- Canon of Pascha

Sunday, April 11, 2004


Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death,
And upon those in the tombs, bestowing life!

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Last Saturday we heard Hell cry in alarm as Christ called Lazarus back from its grasp. This Saturday, only a week later, we hear Hell groan again, but this time in its death agony:

Today hell cries out, groaning:
I should not have accepted the man born of Mary.
He came and destroyed my power.
He shattered the gates of brass.
As God, He raised the souls that I had held captive.
Glory to Thy cross and resurrection ,O Lord.

Today hell cries out, groaning:
My dominion has been shattered.
I received a dead man as one of the dead,
But against Him I could not prevail.
From eternity I had ruled all the dead,
But behold, He raises all.
Because of Him do I perish.
Glory to Thy cross and resurrection, O Lord.

Today hell cries out, groaning:
My power has been trampled upon.
The Shepherd is crucified and Adam is raised.
I have been deprived of those whom I ruled.
Those whom I swallowed in my strength I have given up.
He who was crucified has emptied the tombs.
The power of death has been vanquished.
Glory to thy cross and resurrection, O Lord.

Holy Saturday, for the Orthodox Church is extremely joyful; you can hear the rumblings from under the earth as Christ frees the souls of all the righteous, from Adam and Eve to Job to John the Baptist. The battle is over, and it's only a matter of time before He bursts from tomb in glory.

Friday, April 09, 2004

There are so many awesome hymns from Holy Friday it's difficult to choose only a few but this one, from one of the later services, is beautiful:

When the pious Joseph saw that the sun had hidden its rays, and the veil of the temple had been rent at the death of the Savior, he did approach Pilate and did plead with him, crying and saying:

Give me this stranger who from his youth has wandered like a stranger. Give me this stranger whom his kinsmen killed in hatred like a stranger. Give me this stranger at whom I wonder beholding him as a guest of death. Give me this stranger who knoweth how to take in the poor and stranger. Give me this stranger whom the Jews in envy estranged from the world. Give me this stranger that I may bury him in a tomb, who being a stranger hath no place whereon to lay his head. Give me this stranger to whom his mother, beholding him dead, shouted, crying, “O my son and my God! Even though my vitals have been wounded and my heart burns as I behold Thee dead, yet trusting in Thy resurrection, I magnify Thee.”

In these words the honorable Joseph pleaded with Pilate, took the Savior’s body, and with fear, wrapped it in linen and balm, placing Thee in a tomb, O Thou who grantest to all everlasting life and the great mercy.

And then here is a dialogue sung between Christ and His mother modeled after the Magnificat (My soul magnifies the Lord, etc.):

Mourn not for me, Mother, as thou beholdest me in the grave; for I thy Son, whom thou didst conceive in thy womb without seed, shall rise and shall be glorified. And being God, will ceaselessly exalt aennobleble those who in faith and longing magnify thee.

My eternal Son, I escaped sufferings at thy strange birth and was supernaturally blessed. And now, beholding Thee, O my Son, dead and breathless, I am pierced with a spear of bitter sorrow. But arise Thou, that I may be magnified by Thee.

The earth, O my Mother, hath hidden me by mine own will. And the gate-keepers of Hades trembled at beholding me clothed with a robe spattered with revenge; for I being God, have vanquished mine enemies with the Cross, and I will rise again and magnify thee.

Let all creation rejoice, and all the earthly be glad; for Hades and the enemy have been spoiled. Let the women meet me with myrrh; for I redeem Adam along with Eve and all their descendants, and will rise on the third day.

Mourn not for me, Mother, as thou beholdest me in the grave; for I thy Son, whom thou didst conceive in thy womb without seed, shall rise and shall be glorifies. And being God, I will ceaselessly exalt and ennoble those, who in faith and longing magnify thee.

Already, on the evening of Good Friday, you can hear the first rumblings of Hell, and begin to smell the fragrancence of the Resurrection.
Today He who hung the earth upon the waters is hung on the tree.
The King of the angels is decked with a crown of thorns.
He who wraps the heavens in clouds is wrapped in the purple of mockery.
He who freed Adam in the Jordan is slapped on the face.
The Bridegroom of the Church is affixed to the cross with nails.
The Son of the Virgin is pierced by a spear.
We worship Thy passion, O Christ.
We worship Thy passion, O Christ.
We worship Thy passion, O Christ.
Show us also Thy glorious Resurrection.

We see a strange and fearful mystery accomplished today.
He whom none may touch is siezed.
He who looses Adam from the curse is bound.
He who tries the hearts of men is unjustly brought to trial.
He who closed the abyss is shut in prison.
He before whom the hosts of heaven stand with trambling stands before Pilate.
The Creator is struck by the hand of his creature.
He who comes to judge the living and the dead is condemned to the cross.
The conqueror of hell is enclosed in a tomb.
O Thou, who hast endured all things in Thy tender love,
Thou hast saved all men from the curse.
O long-suffering Lord, Glory to Thee!

-- Hymns from Matins of Good Friday

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Today (Thursday) we remember the Last Supper, the washing of the feet and the betrayal of Judas. The latter gets the most attention in the hymns, I think. I'm not sure why, maybe because it's the most dramatic, the most unbelievable, and it leads into Good Friday, which we begin commemorating tonight.

When Thou wast feeding Thy disciples at the supper,
Thou didst know Judas’ intention to betray Thee;
And Thou didst accuse him of this,
Though recognizing him to be beyond correction,
For Thou didst desire all to know that Thou wast willingly betrayed,
To snatch the world from the grasp of the enemy.
O long-suffering Lord, glory to Thee.

When Thou camest to Thy voluntary passion, O Lord,
Thou didst cry to Thy disciples:
If you lack the strength to keep watch with Me for a single hour,
why did you promise to die for Me?
See how Judas sleepeth not but hastened to betray Me to the transgressors.
Arise and pray, lest anyone deny Me when he sees Me on the cross.
O long-suffering One, glory to Thee!

What caused thee to betray the Savior, O Judas?
Did He expel thee from the ranks of the Apostles?
Did He take from thee the gift of healing?
Did He send thee from the table while taking supper with the others?
Did He wash their feet and pass thee by?
How hast thou forgotten such good things?
Thine ingratitude is notorious,
But His long-suffering and great mercy are proclaimed to all.
Oh great, the Mormans are showing up on the advertising for my blog!
I have good news! I got a "real" job waiting tables at a legitimate, established, Santa Fe restaurant where some good friends of mine work. I'd applied there before but they just fired a server and my friends recommended me to the managers, I went in, talked to them and I start training next week! Now why am I so excited to start yet another job? Because this means I can quit working for Stalker Chef out at the weirdest restaurant ever. Unfortunately, this means I won't have anymore crazy stories from there, but at least I get to keep my sanity (whatever I still have of it at least). I haven't posted too many stories about Stalker Chef & Co., but I will try to do so soon. Every time I'd come home from work and tell my roommates about the night they would either not believe me, or be in hysterics on the floor (literally, in some cases) and would always tell me, "You've got to write this down." It has certainly been a learning experience.

I'm not at my own computer right now so I can't put up the Holy Week post. Maybe this evening. Today is when things really start getting intense. There was a 2 1/2 our service last night, a 2 1/2 hour service this morning and at least a three hour service tonight. It's so awesome though. There's no way I'd be going if it wasn't.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

On a different, but related note, I did my Easter shopping today. For those of you who don't already know, the Orthodox Lent is more or less a 40 day vegan fast. That's no meat, butter, eggs, cheese, etc. So walking through the cheese aisle and finally being able to get something again is always very exciting. I usually walk through the store with a dopey grin on my face, very happy with the world. Funds are a bit tight this year, but I got some brie and some German cheese that looked very interesting (sturdy peasant cheese is how it was described, hmmm. . .), along with milk & butter. Only a few more days . . .
Today (Wednesday) we remember the woman with the alabaster jar who annointed Jesus as he sat at the table of Simon the leper. Her great love and generosity is contrasted with the treachery of Judas who, seeing what he perceived to be an extravagent waste of money by the woman, went to the Pharisees and "from then on, sought an opportunity to betray Him." The hymns for today are quite striking:

The harlot came to Thee, O Lover of mankind,
pouring myrrh and tears on Thy feet.
At Thy command she was delivered from the stench of her eveil deeds,
but Thy graceless disciple, though breathing Thy grace,
rejected it and wallowed in filth,
selling Thee in his love of money.
Glory, O Christ, to Thy compassion!

A harlot recognized Thee as God, O Son of the virgin.
With tears equal to her past deeds, she besought Thee weeping:
Loose my debt as I have loosed my hair.
Love the woman who, though justly hated, loves Thee.
Then with the Publicans will I proclaim Thee,
O Benefactor who lovest mankind.

Oh the wretchedness of Judas!
He saw the harlot kiss the footsteps of Christ,
but deceitfully he contemplated the kiss of betrayal.
She loosed her hair while he bound himself with wrath.
He offered the stench of wickedness instead of myrrh,
for envy cannot distinguish value.

The harlot spread out her hair to Thee, O Master;
Judas spread out his hands to lawless men:
She in order to receive forgiveness;
He in order to receive some silver.
We cry to Thee, who wast sold for us and yet didst set us free:
O Lord, glory to Thee!

I know this is getting long, but I can’t help adding the beautiful hymn of St. Cassiana, commemorating the woman:

The woman had fallen into many sins, O Lord,
Yet when she perceived Thy divinity,
She joined the ranks of the myrrh-bearing women.
In tears she brought Thee myrrh before Thy burial.

She cried: Woe is me!
For I live in the night of licentiousness,
Shrouded in the dark and moonless love of sin.
But accept the fountain of my tears,
O Thou who didst gather the waters of the sea into clouds.
Bow down Thine ear to the sighing of my heart,
O Thou who didst bow the heavens in Thine ineffable condescension.

Once Eve heard thy footsteps in paradise in the cool of the day,
And in fear she ran and hid herself.
But now I will tenderly embrace those pure feet
And wipe them with the hair of my head.
Who can measure the multitude of my sins,
Or the depth of Thy judgments, O Savious of my soul?
Do not despise thy servant in Thine immeasurable mercy.

Monday, April 05, 2004

I was beginning to get concerned about my roommate, who left a few hours ago to get toilet paper and cleaning sponges from the store. But she has happily returned, having been ensnared by what she calls, "A perverse fascination with Wal Mart." I didn't ask any more questions. But it's probably for the best, since she was so bored that she wanted to experiment with my face and makeup.

Continuing with Holy Week, one of the unusual things about it is that the services are backward; the morning services are done at night and the night services are done in the morning. There are a few reasons for this but I think it's mainly to set this week apart from every other week, and also to signify that the events that take place are, in a sense, outside normal chronological time. So for the first three evenings of Holy Week, starting with last night, we do what's called Bridegroom Matins, a morning service done at night, remembering the parable of the 10 virgins. It's kind of a warm up for the rest of the week, encouraging the listeners to be vigilant, and be strong for the last week of the Fast. The distinguishing hymn of the service is:

Behold, the Bridegroom cometh at midnight,
And blessed is the servant whom He shall find watching,
And again, unworthy is the servant whom He shall find heedless.
Beware, therefore, oh my soul, do not be weighed down with sleep,
Lest thou be given up to death, and lest thou be shut out of the kingdom.
But rouse thyself crying: Holy, holy, holy art thou, oh our God.

I realize as I write this that the words of the song by themselves fall far short of conveying it's beauty, especially when sung in context. I can't read the words without hearing the distinctive Russian melody, and remembering the experience of standing in a candle-lit church with the daylight fading and the sense of anticipation, wonder, awe and a touch of fear. When you hear this hymn, you know that it's finally Holy Week.

And here are some hymns for today (Monday, hopefully other posts will be more timely as the week goes on). The translations are a bit odd and inconsistent in places, but not unreadably so.

Verily, on this present day shall be revealed to the world the solemn Passion as a saving light; for Christ of his own goodness shall come to suffer. And he who holdeth all in the hollow of his hand consented to be suspended on a Tree to save man.

O thou unseen Judge, how wast thou seen in the flesh, and how camest thou to be killed in the body by transgressors of the law, judging our case by thy Passion? Wherefore, we address to thee praise and magnification, O Word, and in unison we offer glory to thy power.

Verily, this present day usereth in with splendour the Passion of the Lord. Come, therefore, O feast lovers, let us welcome it with songs; for the Creator cometh to accept crucifixion, examination, lashes, and to be condemned by Pilate, smitten on the face by a servant, and to bear all things to save man. Wherefore, we cry unto him: O Christ God, Lover of mankind, grant forgiveness of sins to them who in faith worship thy pure Passion.

I really, really, really hate daylight savings. Why in the world do we do it? Do any other countries share this masochistic tendency? I was just getting used to being able to get up before 7 with a minimum amount of pain. But no longer. It seems that the time change has produced an anomaly in space/time, resulting in a greatly increased gravitational field around my bed, especially in the mornings. It didn't help that I forgot about the time change until Saturday night, when I was thinking, "Well, it's late, but getting up in the morning won't be too bad."

Saturday, April 03, 2004

So today (the few hours left of it) is Lazarus Satruday. In the Orthodox (Christian) Church, the Saturday before Palm Sunday we remember Christ’s raising Lazarus, who had been dead four days, as recounted in John‘s gospel. I hadn’t realized it, but the four days is essential to the story. According to Jewish tradition at the time, the soul remained near the body for the first three days after death. Elijah, Elisha, and Christ Himself raised people from the dead during these first three days. But on the fourth day the soul departed and went to Hades, Gehenna, the place of the dead from which no one had ever returned.

In the gospel account, Mary, Lazarus’ sister comes to Jesus and says, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” She believes that He could have healed Lazarus but now that he is dead he is beyond even Jesus’ power. Death is the end, the final word, the final defeat. By calling Lazarus out of the tomb, Christ does something completely new and changes everyone’s basic conceptions of life and death.

Here is an excerpt from some of the hymns sung for today:

When Lazarus, four days dead, heard Thy voice below, O Savior, he rose up and sang Thy praises, crying joyfully: “Thous art my God and Maker; I glorify and worship Thee, for Thou hast raised me up.”

“Though I lie in bonds, O Savior,” Lazarus cried from below to Thee his Deliverer, “Yet shall I not remain for ever in the depths of hell, if Thou wilt only call to me, ‘Lazarus, come out,’ for Thou art my Light and my Life.”

“I implore thee, Lazarus,” said Hell, “rise up, depart quickly from my bonds and be gone. It is better for me to lament bitterly for the loss of one, rather than of all those whom I swallowed in my hunger.”

“Why dost thou delay, Lazarus?” cried Hell. “Thy friend stands calling to thee, ‘Come out.’ Go then, and I too shall feel relief. For since I swallowed thee, all other food is loathsome to me.”

“O Lazarus, why dost thou not rise up swiftly?” cried Hell below, lamenting. “Why dost thou not run straightway from this place? Lest Christ take prisoner the others, after raising thee.”

Let Bethany sing with us in praise of the miracle, for there the Creator wept for Lazarus in accordance with the law of nature and the flesh. Then, making Martha’s tears to cease and changing Mary’s grief to joy, Christ raised him from the dead.

This upcoming week of Holy Week is an intense, all-consuming, extremely beautiful week in the Orthodox Church. I’ll try to post some of the highlights from the services, with possibly a few comments, if I’m up to it. I think you'll enjoy it, even if you’re not particularly interested in Chrisitanity or Orthodoxy.

Friday, April 02, 2004

A lovely cool rainy day in Santa Fe. There's nothing like the smell of the desert (inasmuch as Santa Fe is a desert) after a good rain. Any adjectives I'd use to describe it, like "clean" or "invigorating" sound, unfortunately, like something off the back of a soap box and completely miss the reality. You just have to experience it for yourself. Oh well, off to work I go . . .