The Final hours of Bright Week

All Saints on Pascha just before Agape VespersMeshiha qam! Bashrira qam!*

So, I find it more than a little ironic that, having opened the doors of the iconostasis for Bright Week, tonight will have been my first time in the nave since Agape Vespers, and the doors will be closed fifteen minutes or so after I get there.

On the other hand, since Bright Week did double duty as Finals Week, I’m not really sure it could have been any other way, at least not this year.

I had two finals this week; Latin and Syriac. Latin was relatively easy; I’ve commented before that studying a language like Latin, one is the beneficiary of all kinds of useful pedagogical editions of things with helpful features like half of the page being a glossary and 75% of the words being glossed. With Syriac, as I have commented before, one, well, isn’t.

Going into the Syriac final, we were all rather panicked; we read three longish texts — The Gospel of Mark chap. 14 through the end, The Doctrine of Addai, and the Life of Ephraim — with just an impossible amount of vocabulary being contained therein. (And make no mistake: at least at this stage of the game, until we get to texts that don’t have vowel-pointing, it’s the vocabulary that’s the killer. Syriac grammar is actually remarkably uncomplicated, at least so far.)  We studied one of the passages from the Life of Ephraim that we thought might be on the exam the evening before, got it down pretty well, and we all felt a bit better. The next morning, the professor handed out the exams and just said, “Do what you can.” Of course, the three passages that actually wound staring up at us from the page were nothing from any of those three texts which I had actually spent any particular time mastering. As my Syriac co-sufferer Diane acknowledged, “There were a lot of made-up words and grammatically-appropriate blanks in my translation.” Um, yeah.

Nonetheless, the school year is over, and as soon as grades were posted yesterday morning (not to mention no e-mails having arrived from my Syriac professor asking, “You know, have you ever considered a direction change? Like, say, becoming a shepherd?”), I felt a great weight lift from my shoulders. I survived the school year, something that at points felt unlikely for a whole host of reasons. Between classes being over (at least for six weeks) and settling into the new job, I am getting to truly decompress a bit for the first time in perhaps a year and a half — certainly since before I broke my ankle last February, one way or the other. We’ll see if I know what to do with myself.

(By the way, Iron Man rocks. Hard.)

* Just to prove I learned something in Syriac — “Meshiha” is “Christ”, being a passive pe’al participle used attributively in the singular masculine emphatic (from the root mshah, “to anoint”), therefore carrying the meaning “anointed one”; “qam” is the 3rd person masculine singular pe’al perfect form of the verb which means “to stand”; “ba-” is a preposition meaning “in”; and “shrira” is “truth”. So — “Christ stood/arose/got up!” “In truth He arose!” Isn’t this fun? Next year I’ll do it in Coptic.


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