I went to church today. There is an Antiochian Orthodox church about 5 miles from here. It's a little too far to walk in 101 degrees, but one of the interns has a rented car for her stay and she graciously offered to drop me off. I left the worrying about the return trip up to God.
It is a lovely building, only about five years old, and the people there received me warmly. Many are of Syrian descent, and their music reflects their middle eastern heritage. The choir today was a sweetly enthusiastic group of children, the oldest perhaps ten. They were singing some pretty challenging tunes and they did all right until one little boy was attacked by an infectious bout of the giggles during the Cherubic Hymn. This, during one of the high points of the Holy Service, is a total bummer. And, as one who has been attacked by the giggles while singing in the Divine Services, I had complete and total compassion for the choir and their enormously patient director.
It's been a while since the only work I've had to do during a church service is pray. I enjoyed it enormously. I prayed for all of my family, especially for Dave and the kids. I miss them lots, and I know that Liam doesn't really understand how long I'll be gone. Dave will have his hands more than full, and he's already sounding tired. I prayed for strength for all of us, that the Lord will be with us during this trying month. I also spent a lot of time praying for the gift of humility, as I know that it is not my strength, and that I will definitely need it while learning all these new skills from so many different people.
Fr. George offered a lovely thought during the homily, and I'll probably paraphrase it all wrong. He said that the Lord tells us that disadvantage doesn't come as the result of sin on the part of the disadvantaged; it comes instead so that God's grace will be manifest for all. I'm watching and trying to stay in tune with the grace that I see offered here everday.
A new mother and her sweet baby boy were churched this morning before the Divine Liturgy. Their family offered up snacks during the coffee hour, and I was invited to participate. I did meet some very nice people, and one of them even offered to drive me back to Casa. Aha, another bit of grace offered up. . .
I've been to three births so far since I've been here. Due to HIPPA laws, I cannot share anything about these experiences publicly. Because I've been deemed a "keener" by the staff midwives, I've been scheduled to be "second on" tonight when I work from 6 pm to 6 am. The "second on" does much of what I've already done at home during a birth, with the addition of heart tones for the baby during second stage. Even though I'm nervous and feeling not quite ready for this, I'm accepting the challenge and looking at it as adding one more skill in my repetoire. But, because I'm scheduled as "second on," I've done a little extra duty to get ready for it. I attended a birth last night shadowing the second, and this afternoon as well. Luckily, I can sleep, as long as I wake up when I'm needed. So, I'm going into this night with not very much sleep already. I'll try to catch up a little at least with a cat nap here or there. Wish me luck. . .