Christ the Bridegroom Icon

I Have Roared

Christ the Bridegroom Icon
Christ the Bridegroom Icon

This week is Orthodox Holy Week. On Friday, Jesus will be crucified. On Saturday, we will quietly mourn. On Sunday, he will rise again.

Last night the kids and I went to the second Bridegroom Matins service of the week. This service likens Orthodox believers to the ten virgins who waited for the bridegroom to come in the middle of the night. It is a time of waiting and repentance. During Bridegroom Matins, a reader reads or chants six Psalms. One of them is Psalm 37  (Psalm 38 in Protestant Bibles). These lines stood out to me:

I am feeble and sore broken; I have roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart. Lord, all my desire is before thee; and my groaning is not hid from thee.

I have roared. Wow. Most Bibles translate that as groaned instead of roared. But I like roared. I can hear the anger and anguish behind that word. I can hear the urgency: See me! Hear me! I roar! 

It makes me think of these words from Ursula K. LeGuin: “We are all volcanoes. When we women offer our experience as our truth, all the maps change. There are new mountains. That’s what I want – to hear you erupting.”

That’s what I want, too – to erupt, to roar, to have a voice, to break open the ground I’ve always walked on.

I roar because I am imperfect.

I roar because I am broken.

I roar because I am selfish.

I roar because I am searching.

I roar because I am hurting.

I roar because I am sorry.

I roar because I want to be strong.

I roar because I want to be saved.

I roar because I want to be found.

I roar because I want joy.

I roar because I want God.

As the reader read the Six Psalms, Father Stephen was not sitting idly by the altar. He was working, too. He was praying the twelve Orthros prayers – mostly in front of the icon of Christ. I watched my priest stand before Jesus with his head bowed, praying for all of us. Here are just the first phrases of a few of these twelve prayers:

We give thanks unto thee

Out of the night our spirit awaketh at dawn unto thee

O Master God, holy and unsearchable

O Treasury of good things, Fountain eternal

Illumine our hearts

O Lord our God, who hast granted unto men pardon

I roar, and I hope. I hope that He hears me. And finds me. And saves me. And us all.


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