I’d been tidying for days, in anticipation of my house blessing. It’s an Orthodox Christian tradition in which the parish priest comes to your home in the weeks after Theophany (the celebration of Christ’s baptism, celebrated January 6th) to bless your home with holy water.
When the knock came on the door. Lucy, who had been dead asleep, awoke and started barking. Fr. Timothy, who has a dog named Zeus, entered my little house and gave Lucy a some time to sniff. He put on his epitrachelion (his stole) and intoned the opening words of the short service.
Blessed is our God always, both now and ever, and to the ages of ages.
This was followed by a litany and prayers, during which he poured holy water into my little bowl and blessed it. And then the fun began. He picked up the basil and the bowl of water and we walked around my one bedroom condominium singing the hymn of Theophany:
When Thou wast baptized in the Jordan, O Lord, the worship of the Trinity was made manifest; for the voice of the Father bare witness to Thee, calling Thee His beloved Son. And the Spirit in the form of a dove confirmed the certainty of the word. O Christ our God, Who hast appeared and hast enlightened the world, glory be to Thee.
All the while, he dipped the basil leaves in the bowl of water and flicked water throughout the house. Lucy watched a droplet land near her with great fascination, then followed Fr. Timothy as he walked through the house. It was over in a couple of minutes, but I was left feeling happy and peaceful.
As Fr. Timothy left, we joked about seeing each other next year, even though we know we will see each other sooner.