Saturday, February 17, 2007

Meeting Father John Hennies

Sunday, February 17, 2007
On Friday, February 15, Birgitta learned about the existence of St. Dimitri of Rostov parish of the Orthodox Church in America here in Los Alamos from one of her gym partners, a long time OCA member. The parish was serving its traditional annual "Bliny Breakfast" the followig Sunday and we were invited. I jumped at the chance to become acquainted with local Orthodox people.

Arriving at the parish, we discovered it is in a converted house and were directed to the kitchen basement. There were only three or four other brunchers. I was asked about what began my recent search for an Orthodox Church and that led to recounting singing an old Slavonic chant to Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Anastassy in 1954. When I mentioned that I still knew the chant as well as all four choir parts, parishioner Barbara invited me to sing the chant.

Birgitta suggested I move away from the table (she knew what was coming!) and I was thrilled to sing that wonderful chant (from the other side of the room!) for those hardy parishioners. My old voice felt strong and clear.

No sooner had I finished than I heard sounds of loud footsteps quickly coming down the stairs from the sanctuary above. (It hadn't known there was an upstairs sanctuary) The priest, Fr. John, and his wife plus one another person came rushing into the kitchen wanting to know where the singing came from. They were most effusive in their enthusiasm. Fr. John immediately invited me to sing in their services anytime and asked if I would teach them that chant and chorus.

A marvelous spirit-filled conversation ensued as we got acquainted and shared stories. Birgitta and I felt we had found another Christian home.

One aspect of this first meeting and conversation with Fr. John stands out in my recollection. When I asked about the meaning of the word "Orthodox", he replied that it is the word for "right". Why, of course! I thought, recalling my engineering background and the drafting term "Orthographic projection". Then I was flooded with the memory of a long-ago symbol in a major dream (see : pre-analysis dream, March 1966) and realized a new level of understanding it. The dream's first scene is of a wind swept desert on which are two mobile homes positioned in an "L", i.e. at a right angle! Until this recollection, I'd always thought of the Mormon "sign of the square"--the symbol for truth. This dream now offered a new level of meaning as my outer Orthodox Odyssey continued to evolve and unfold.