Two kinds of expectation

There are so many times when we spend our moments by waiting for something to happen. When we are in school, we wish to be done and go home; or we wish to graduate and truly “start life.” If we “start life,” we want to finally have money, so that we could do what we like. Then, if it’s winter, we want it to be over so that spring may begin. There are countless of such examples: we all want to be done with whatever is going one so that we can finally live our lives. This takes place especially when we dislike what we go through.

But there is also another kind of expectation, and one can experience this especially during the Great Lent. One of the reasons why I love presanctified liturgies (usually celebrated on Wednesdays and, in some churches, on Fridays during lent) is that they silence my divided way of seeing the world and push me toward oneness. You wake up in the morning, and the first thought you have is that there is liturgy in the evening, which means that you need to prepare. First of all, you need to fast, so to avoid eating and drinking. A nuisance, one may say, but it is actually a blessing. All of a sudden, you become present, and not because of any virtue that you may have, but rather because of a desire. You wish to do to Dinner in the evening, and this transforms your whole day. You no longer just pass by some fruit or some piece of bread and put it thoughtlessly in your mouth. You remember what is to come, and this makes you aware of everything you do in the present. You also remember that you cannot approach the chalice with negative thoughts toward your fellows, so you avoid fighting over petty things, getting angry at meetings, or participating in meaningless discussion. I’m not saying that you succeed in doing all of these things; the point is that you are present, that you think of them. 

The reason for this is an expectation. You wait for the liturgy, for the Kingdom on earth. But notice how the entire world, this world, the daily one, is transformed by this expectation; notice how, instead of making you absent, instead of making you to move your mind into what may come next and thus in imagination, the wait for the hour of communion makes every little moment of your present life count in a completely different light. The world itself, in the weakness of your body which is hungry and thirsty, in the weakness of your mind which judges and gets angry at what originates actually in you, is transformed in the kingdom. It is the Kingdom that awaits for you in the chalice that transforms your world into a kingdom. 

Fr. Arsenie Boca, as others before him, said (and I cite from memory), “We will not live after death in a different kingdom than the one we live during life.” If we always expect for our lives to finally begin, they may never begin. Life has already begun if it ever is to begin. 

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About Tavi's Corner

Blogging on ancient philosophy, communist persecution in Romania (including deportation to Siberia), and Orthodox Christianity. I've translated books from Romanian to English, and I also write about them from time to time.
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