Last night I went to Vespers for the first time in a few months. Vespers at the Orthodox Community of St Andrew here in Edinburgh is always at 6:30. Last time I was there, it was winter. 6:30 in an Edinburgh winter is black, dark night. The chapel is lit by the oil lamps hanging in front of icons and a few lights behind the iconostasis as well as a lamp on the lectern.
Vespers in winter is cozy, comforting. (See my post from my first visit a few years ago.)
In May, however, we have yet to reach sunset.
Vespers in May in Scotland is bright, sunny. We are still tending towards sundown (wait six weeks for Vespers in broad daylight), but there is a nice, fiery, late evening glow to the light shining in through the windows and playing on the icons, the chandelier, the censer, Father Raphael’s gilt chasuble (not sure if that’s the right word).
Shafts of light from this late evening sun illuminate the clouds of incense.
It is fitting, in this Easter season, to sing and pray in the light, for Christ is the light of the world.
Last night, I was also appointed lector for about 5 minutes. I read out a Psalm and recited, ‘Lord, have mercy,’ several times during some of the prayers.
I think Alexander Schmemann said that it takes 46 books to do the whole cycle of Orthodox services. Father Raphael and I were having a bit of difficulty finding where we were meant to be — Feast of Mid-Pentecost along with St Simon the Zealot and Tuesday evening — but Father Avraamy arrived, saved the day and took over as reader.
There is a different comfort here from winter, a brighter invitation at the Feast of Mid-Pentecost than in the bleak mid-winter.