2. September 8th - The Birth of Ever Virgin Mary, Mother of God

"Lord, didn't I tell you that those material gods would be more trouble than they are worth to you? Now you not only have them stuck in time like a pair of feet fixed in cement, they are hardened in matter too! How can you call this companionship. It's pathetic! It is atrocious!"

God patiently listened to my tirade, (Gentleman that He is) and told me that I was too impatient.

"Impatient!" I retorted indignantly, "We have had to watch this rotation of light and darkness so many times that we are getting nauseous! One OR the other, I say!" Taking it upon myself to speak for the entire host of angelic spirits I added, "I prefer the darkness, the way things used to be, but if you must choose light, then go ahead and choose it!

Please Lord, I beg of you to make up your mind! We detest this thing called time. And besides, don't you see what it is doing to your little gods? They shrivel up until they can live no more. Time kills them slowly but surely! This doesn't make sense to me Lord. I don't want to gloat, but I would say that you should admit defeat, burn it all off and let's go back to the way life was before this project of yours. Please?"

God has a better friend than me. His name is Gabriel. Gabriel is smarter than me and more patient. That's why he always gets the better jobs.

Gabriel wafted himself over to me and in the regal style of an archangel filled my space with sparkles and the heavenly aroma of stardust to wash me with delightful sensations and thus to curb my frustration.

"What are you so happy about?" I retorted, trying hard to cling to my anger.

"My foolish friend, can't you see what joys lie before us? Are you so enamored by the darkness that you failed to notice Anna and Joachim swelling with child and joy over the impending birth to the Queen of queens on the eighth day of the new year? Anna will soon give birth to the Mother of God! Can you forget yourself for a moment to imagine what this means to Him?"

"What is going on?" I exclaimed, "Tell me!"

Gabriel pulsated with glee as He explained the next, most important phase of creation when God becomes a human too. I simply could not believe that our God would entertain such a foolish notion. This was the limit! What could I do? I would never go over to Lucifer's camp because unlike Lucifer, I was devoted to my God and yet I was perturbed with Him. To create these troublesome miniature gods was one thing, but to enter one was the most insane ridiculous idea imaginable.

Gabriel went on, "My dear friend, indeed you are stuck between two false worlds. The dark old days that you long for and can only live in your imagination, and a skepticism that skews your ability to see the amazing plan God is carrying out.

"Nothing less than the re-creation of the world is about to begin! This new year marks the beginning of the end of time*. This should make you jump for joy."

If an angel could fall on its face, I would have. Instead I patiently waited for the enormity of Gabriel's remarks to penetrate.

A new creation, within the creation that will overcome time...mmmmmm? How is this possible? What magic will God conjure up to superimpose timelessness upon the light and dark, day and night rhythm of time? How will God, the King and Master of spirits pour Himself into human form? Why did Gabriel stand amazed at the concept of the eighth day birth of the infant Mother of God?

There was so much to process that I wanted not to think any more, and frankly, I didn't want to feel anymore either, neither jealously nor frustration. It was time to rest and fly.

I suddenly awoke to hear shrill birth pangs that echoed throughout the universe. Angels, archangels, and all the heavenly hosts had gathered to watch with God and so I went as well to be present at the birth.

I still did not understand how this infant could annihilate time, but I took Gabriel's word for it, and gradually fell in love with this newborn infant girl all the more.

On the 8th day after New Years we (Orthodox) celebrate the birth of the Mother of God, who is the first fruit of the New Creation, as reflected in the New Covenant between humanity and God.

The 8th day is also known by the Church as the day of Resurrection. God created the world in 6 days. And on the 7th day He rested. On the 7th day (Sabbath) Jesus also rested, before His 8th day resurrection.

The eighth day is also the day when infant Jewish boys are circumsized to mark themselves as participants in the covenant between God and Abraham.

*From the moment of the birth of the Virgin Mary, major events of Christianity that once occurred in time will start to be gathered into a Holy Year that is outside of time. Orthodox do not commemorate the events, we re-live them. For example, Easter actually occurs every Sunday; when an infant is baptized it actually dies with Christ on the cross. In this way, the Church, which is the Bride of Christ, gathers unto herself a unique year that resides outside of the daily progressive rhythm of time.

9. Sunday

As I was sitting alone in the dark feeding my frustration large sugary bits of self pity over being confined to the cathedral for a week, a transparent figure of a small man crashed my pity-party by approaching me.

"Welcome," he said with a strong Greek accent; "I am Hariloas, the chanter here for decades; The Lord allows me to return to visit from time to time. He sent me to be with you today. How I loved to fill every corner of this glorious space with the perfect pitch of praise."

To demonstrate, Harilaos bellowed out troparia of the Paraclisis to the Virgin Mary. His voice was breathtaking! This small figure of a man chanted like the largest archangel I had ever heard. I had never before appreciated the human voice as much as at that moment. In a flash I perceived how the proportion and dynamics of the space perfectly mirrored the rhythm and harmony and even texture of this little god's big voice. It was as if I was listening to the material version of what I was seeing. These talented little gods blended visual beauty and glorious chanting and a rich aroma to create a hallowed sensory space in which to worship my God. We angels never could have accomplished such a marvel.

When he finished Harilaos looked at me with a mysterious knowing smile on his face, obviously satisfied with Himself for conveying exactly what he wanted to say. "Don't resist learning, my angelic friend. Humans, those little gods you refer to, have much to teach you within these walls. Even as a fruit tree must be pruned so it can produce more fruit, so your love of the air must be severely cut back for you to comprehend the stunning beauty of the Body of Christ and His Bride. Wake-up!"

Soon after Harilaos excused himself I saw him below standing at his marble podium on the right of closed golden altar doors gazing at the round mosaic of God, the Holy Spirit Dove above him and I heard him chanting the Hymn of Kassiani.

With the gradual sun rise the stained glass windows began to show their subdued colors and the intricacies of the mosaic figures all around me came into focus. A beam of light streamed through the east windows high in the dome forming a spotlight on the pews in front of me to call me out of my seat.

I flew down to get a better look around. A man appeared, at first scurrying about unlocking doors and looking purposeful. Then another man in a long black gown appeared, and another chanter, this time a large figure of a man who reminded me of the militant archangel Michael, took Hariloas' place on the podium. The priest and the chanter recited psalms of King David and ancient prayers in this large nearly empty space. But, it wasn't empty for long; more and more of the spirits of past members poured into the room, and very gradually more of the embodied people joined them.

As the liturgy progressed I felt myself wrapped in worship. I flew behind the altar to see what the men in gowns were doing. There was so much activity as men and boys busily performed all sorts of acts. There were censors to fill to make the smoky perfume, bread being cut, various processions to conduct and sometimes they just sat quiet and still. All the while the master chanter and his troupe chanted in turns and together and from time to time the priests chanted too.

At one point the mass of people, with and without flesh, who filled the pews knelt and closed their eyes. I could not believe it, and you may not believe me, but I saw Jesus Christ, God's Incarnation right there, inside the building. I am not sure that anyone of the bodied people saw Him, but you can be sure that the angels did, and the spirit people did. Their posture made it obvious to me that they saw Who I saw.

Jesus came into the altar and covered a golden chalice with His mighty spirit hand. I saw His blood flow into the chalice from a wound in the palm of His hand, and then the liquid in the chalice rose up, and streamed back into His hand. Holy Blood flowed in a circular motion around and around it went from the chalice to the hand and back. Then, Jesus reached into His chest and pulled out pieces of His body which He cut up with His hands like bread and dropped them into the chalice, but strangely His Body was still in tact.

Then quietly and solemnly The Lord evaporated as I have known Him to do, whether He was still present or not I could not say. I glanced out from the golden doors at the people who had kneeled down and closed their eyes and one by one the young and old, the spirit and the fleshly, reopened their eyes and stood up, until the entire congregation was erect. I noticed that a few people wore the remains of little tears that had fallen from their shut eyes. I could certainly understand why. I believe that if I had eyes, they would have gushed from the sight of what had just happened in there.

The chanting and praying continued. The people joined the chanter in proclaiming what they believed about God and His Son, and they also recited in unison from their hearts a simple little prayer that Jesus had taught them.

After a while the priest appeared holding that golden chalice from which God's hand had bled! What was he going to do with it I wondered?

I then heard the priest say,"With faith and with love, draw near."

What, I thought! Why? What were the people going up there to do?

The spirit people stayed back, but many of the embodied people came out of their pews one by one and reverently stood in line. I could heard them apologizing to God and praying as they stood there, men women and children, all sizes and shapes of little gods stood patiently and reverently in line as one by one they approached the priest with the golden chalice.

As I glanced from the line to the priest, low and behold I saw the priest feeding them with a little golden spoon from the chalice! The little gods were consuming the blood of God, and eating His flesh! I was stunned; no, I was flabbergasted! I was amazed! I was humbled. I was envious. If anything at all could have whipped the cynicism right out of me, it was what I was experiencing at that moment. What kind of love would cause a person to eat and drink the blood of God incarnate?

Could this have been what Jesus meant when He asked me to tell Him the favorite food of the Bride? Oh Food of foods! Oh amazing grace! Now I can see how some of the people are truly little gods. I have heard about how in the mother's womb her blood enters her baby and that they are united by the blood that nourishes them both, but here the Bride of Christ literally flows Blood from her betrothed into her children who stand hungry and longing for the sustenance this Blood of God offers them.

I was overwhelmed. Harilaos came over and held me and hugged me. I had never before, even in heaven experienced anything so magnificent. Have you ever seen an angel cry?

15. November 21. Presentation of Mary at the Temple

As Pineal and I were leaving Manolis' house a strong sensation of falling hit me. I lost control of my ability to fly and could not see where I was going. There was nothing to do but to fight fear, try to relax, and let it happen.

When the sensation stopped I found myself in a hot and dusty world surrounded by a flurry of angels and people in ornate gowns rushing to and fro. This journey reminded me of when I first left heaven to fly to the planet earth. But then I knew where I was going.

"Not really'." said Fabian, a very tall and distinguished looking angel who had come close enough to read my mind. "When you came to the Bride's mystical year, you could have first landed here instead of the 21st century Washington, DC. Remember, the Bride's year is a compilation of time and place. You are wrong when you say it is timeless for it contains a finite series of events that occur within one year. If one were fixed to the spiral, which the Bride is NOT, it would appear that it is not the same year, but for the Bride of Christ, the events are synchronic, meaningful and purposeful, all for the glory of God."

"Where am I and why?"

Fabian replied, "You are still in the Bride's mystical flat year. The reason for falling the way you did was not to leave time, because you are still in the present, but to leave place. You see the deception is that you must leave time and place together. What so many people fail to understand is that for God, every action, like every word has meaning and therefore power. As the Author and Finisher of life God concerns Himself with themes and plots and foreshadowing.

Come and see what I am talking about. Look over there."

Before us were two couples, and two small children, a girl and a boy. The two families were talking and laughing. The young children, no more than 3 years old, were running around playing tag in the sunshine.

"Are these people of any consequence?" I asked.

"See those children? That little girl will become the most important woman to have every lived. And the little boy is not far behind her."

"Tag! You're it!" the little boy cried laughing and easily outrunning the girl.

Fabian smiled and continued, "Although they lived centuries apart Samuel, the prophet, and Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ have much in common. Study the thread that binds them to be amazed at God's authorship."

Just then little Mary ran behind Fabian, and said, "hide me!" Fabian turned to her and replied, "Sweet heart, how can I hide you when most people don't even see me?"

"Oh but Samuel can see you! And that's what counts! Now don't say anything!"

Fabian gave her little shoulders a squeeze and went on.

"Like many others, both Samuel and Mary were conceived in faith. But unlike them, their two mothers Hannah and Anna were willing to turn their most precious and beloved children, their gifts, back to The Lord by having them raised in the Temple by priests and nuns."

I remarked, "How difficult it must have been!" I said, thinking of how much I miss and grieve over the days before Creation. But I had no choice, to voluntarily separate from a precious love, especially a child who could not understand the meaning of the separation, and who loves his or her mother with all their hearts; this I could not fathom."

Fabian responded, "These children from this tender young age were enveloped in the love and worship of the one true God. Their mothers and fathers could come to visit from time to time, but you are correct to say that giving them up was difficult. For I was the angel sent to convince Hannah, and then Anna to let their children go."

"Yikes, thank God I didn't have an assignment like that!"

"It was hard, but I had to keep my eye focused on the big picture and show that to them. God needed a pure vessel to pour into with His Spirit, such as Samuel who annointed Saul and David the first kings of Israel, and of course Mary, to become the pure holy vessel for His incarnation.

"Come children, it is time to go!" shouted Elkanah, Samuel's father. "Come Samuel, we must go with Mary to her new home. Come on Mary, I see you hiding behind that angel, now let's go!"

Joachim and Anna approached Elkanah, and then Joachim said, "I can't thank you enough for coming and bringing young Samuel today. You all have made this day so much more bearable than we anticipated it to be."

Hannah gave Anna a hug and said, "Anna, we know how difficult it was to part. But we also know that the service our child gave to God was worth one hundred times the pain of separation.

Besides, added Elkanah, it is our honor to serve the Mother of God in any way we can.

Hannah added, "she is such a beautiful little girl, so full of grace!"