Γεια σας, Παιδία!
It’s a bit too tiring at night, after working out the old brain during class etc to say too much on the blog (i.e. I’ll try to write in the mornings :)). There are many wonderful gems one discovers from under various rocks here and there. Let’s try to share a few:
On Sunday my friend and I attended a lecture given by Fr. Symeon, who is becoming a more and more well-known spiritual father in the region around Thessaloniki. He is a tiny elderly priest-monk. He walks humbly and with a stooped posture. He has a brilliant smile and a wonderfully soothing high pitched (sing-songy) voice. On Sunday evenings he gives homilies to an auditorium filled with his spiritual children (one of whom estimated that he has well over 2,000 sp children who see him regularly). His talks are simple and unassuming. He sits at a desk on a platform in front of hundreds of attentive listeners and speaks quietly, humbly and (unfortunately for me) with little regard for enunciation of words :). Yet despite his subtle disposition, his powerful words touch the the thirsty soul and give the heart peace.
My Greek friend was there on Sunday as well, and was able to translate for a bit, because it’s difficult to pick up on his fast-paced speech, especially this early on in the game. Fr. S said so many wonderful things. He takes a bit of the Gospel and gives quite an accessible explanation of each little portion. His words are powerful and not empty. One senses a confidence inside each word that allows the gems to rest on fertile ground. The heart is soft in response. It can’t help it; he’s like a child.
He spoke of the need for persistence in our prayers to God, even to the point of being annoying. He pointed out that a patient soul is not irritated when another person is annoying, so how much more patient will God be with our persistence.
He spoke of the need to be like a child in our Faith. To deepen our understanding of this common analogy, he showed how children come with a positive emptiness. In other words, they have not been filled, like adults, with various opinions and the confusion and baggage of the world. He said we must strive to attain this same emptiness in order to be “child-like” in our Faith.
He said much more but unfortunately I was not able to copy it all down.
Anyway, HAPPY TURKEY DAY to all y’all in the States. I’ll miss all of the good food, that is for sure, but it’s ok to experience it from the outside for once. It will provide good perspective, and good content for the next Thanksgiving where I’m home and have to say what I’m thankful for (“I’m thankful that I can be home for Thanksgiving THIS year as opposed to previous years :)).
I’m making good friends with some of my classmates. They are all very friendly and EXTREMELY generous despite some of them coming from very difficult backgrounds. My one Ukranian friend who is 17 but studying Greek (and doing quite well...although this IS his 4th language :)). Was with me in the cafe the other day and I needed 50 cents. I asked him if he had it (in PERFECT Greek of course :)) and he quickly took out the change. Afterwards, we were walking back to our class and he turned to me and said ”My friend, ANYTIME that you need money I’ll give it to you, of course, that is, if I have it“. WOW! And you could really sense that he meant it. He’s been through a lot. He was sitting at his computer before coming to Greece in Georgia (the country from where he moved after the Ukraine) and was rudely interrupted by bombs hitting neighboring houses. He said that he had a hard time sleeping for a while after this. I wonder why. There are other examples of this level of generosity from others. How humbling. How much we, in America, have to be thankful for.
A Big Prayer: for Gratitude at this time of Thanksgiving
with much love and thankfulness for my family and friends,