08 September, 2011

Kyrie eleison.

After a matter of days in Amsterdam, we had to return.  It's hard separating, whether from a person or a place.  You find yourself going back to that familiar beauty that drew you in the first place.
In stark contrast to the Amsterdam I've thus far experienced this year, Paris was at her seasonally appropriate best: 30 degrees celsius (86 degrees fahrenheit), long rows of tourists with their feet in the fountains, and city streets alight.  Top down, music playing, we were nevertheless in Paris for a seriously good reason: a friend's wedding.

The wedding was familiar and exotic all at once, being held in the Russian Orthodox tradition.  Imagine squadrons of Parisian and Russian women in over-the-top hats and perfectly fitted, fancy summer dresses--and sky-high heels.  Their companions faintly overwarm in their suits. And all of us standing for the full length of the service, which lasted an hour and a half.  There are no seats in a Russian Orthodox cathedral, and the Alexander Nevsky on rue Daru in the 8eme arrondissement granted no exception to this  rule.
The two priests, one old with solemn eyes and a full, square beard, one a strapping young tenor, chanted the entire service, in a sort of Gregorian manner.  They were draped from neck to ankle in heavy, golden vestments, absolutely covered with embroidered religious motifs.  They led the bride and groom's procession into the church, where the couple stood upon an immaculately white piece on cloth laid upon the Persian carpeted floor.  They held a golden chalice, from which the couple drank.  And then came the crowning, which involved eight male members of the wedding party.  Four men behind the bride, four behind the groom perspired in their morning coats while taking turns to hold the golden crowns a steady few inches above the heads of the bridal pair.  All this with song and prayer ringing in the air (the choir was hidden but sang in a sort of call and response throughout the prayers and crowning); the acoustics were powerful and somehow intimate.  And there was gold and intricate designs and carving everywhere.
The couple drove off in a wine-red 1950s convertible Dodge Coronet (with Washington state plates!) We cheered, and that evening, we drank an awful lot of Champagne. 


  1. What a wedding! Glad to hear you are getting settled in Amsterdam. Looking forward to hearing all about it.

  2. I should think you sat down a lot too.

    Best wishes to the happy couple. The orthodox church looks beautifully impressive.

  3. Plaisir d'avoir quelques nouvelles indirectes.

  4. Hi Rose,
    Whew, what a whirlwind. Thanks for hanging in there for the next chapter.

    Hello Sarah,
    I certainly would have sat down had that been an option. At least at the reception there were loads of chairs.

    Chere Micheline,
    Oh ciel, meme mes parents ne recoivent que des nouvelles indirectes. La vie citadine roule 200 a l'heure. Maintenant, quiestions d'organizer l'emploi du temps et les priorites.


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