Standing Room Only

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Finally, we get to the church, St Nicholas Romanian Orthodox.  It's well past the time the service was supposed to start.  But better late than never I hope.  As we get out of the cab, I noticed people milling about the entrance of the door.  The doors are open, so Sis, Cat and I walk on in.

Not sure if my mouth was open when I first stepped in.  But it probably was after the first few steps,  only because the beauty of the inside was absolutely amazing.  Detailed, intricate artwork all over the walls.  Paintings of the Saints and such all the way to the top of the dome.  Lots of what looked like gold leaf everywhere.  I suppose it is what one should expect for a church 400 - 500 years old, but it still impressive to see.  We could use some of these at our church, especially the gold stuff!

St Nicholas 1/3              St Nicholas 2/3
St Nicholas 3/3  

We all three squeezed up front to see what was going on.  Everyone was standing, somewhat crowding around the bride and groom.  There was a photographer/videographer recording the event, yet there were others with cameras and such doing the same thing.  After standing there a bit something hit me.... it was HOT in here.  Very VERY hot.  Even though it was fairly cool outside, the inside was not at all.  That may explain the open doors and the people standing just outside the doors.  Guess it's too much to ask for a 400+ year old church to have central air conditioning.  So, I decided I needed a place to sit, so I turned around and then something else hit me.

No seats.

There were no seats!!  Well, a few individual benches were up against the wall of the church, but the main floor...completely empty, devoid of seats, no pews or anything to sit.  I was stunned... a church with no seats?  Is there something wrong with sitting?  I've heard that the Sunday services lat 4 hours!  That would be hard enough sitting, but I can't imagine standing!  I think another portion of my mind blew again (at the rate I was going I would soon be in trouble) trying to contemplate what that meant.  I stood for 4 hours once at a rock concert about 12 years or so ago, and I was a physical wreck afterwards.  My back hurt, my legs ached, and I was exhausted.... So 4 hours standing on Sunday in the heat.  I would die.  And I honestly don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that.  I would not survive it.  I'm sure there are elderly members...what do they do?? 

Later, at the party, I mentioned the "no seats" thing and they kinda laughed and asked me what church I went to .  I told them Anglican, since the Episcopal Church is a member of the Anglican Communion.  If I said Episcopal here in Romania, they would look at me as if I had said "Alien".  They understood "Anglican" and joked about attracting people to attend by offering seats.  You know, I have never heard a church say "Hey!  Come to our services...we have CHAIRS!"  Until now, I would have though that was a given. 

As for the service, it was really interesting to see AND hear.  I say hear, but actually I didn't understand a word that was said.  The priest sing speaks the service, and there were two other guys you might consider as "backup singers"  Not sure how else to describe it, but the priest would say stuff, and they would answer, the whole thing sounding like Gregorian chants.  I found it to be melodic, peaceful and soothing.  The acoustics in the building were superb, probably by design. 

The service was interesting to watch as well.  There were crowns, kissing of hands and a Bible (I think), moving around the small alter in procession, spiritual Godparents instead of a Best Man and Maid of Honor (like Godparents at a baptism), candles and incense.  I'm sure I'm missing things, but that's all I can remember. 

Cat and Sis were right though, there weren't many people at the actual wedding.  30 at the most maybe?  But perhaps now I know why - no chairs and air conditioning. 

With the wedding over, everyone files out of the church.  Now is the time for the main event... the true "wedding" in Romania...  THE party!

PS - I didn't take any pictures of the service.  I just couldn't make myself...didn't feel right. 

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