Monday, October 8, 2007

Man Proposes, God Disposes

Saturday, October 6, 2007

It’s still an Orthodox country! That means there are vespers every single evening. Yet every evening when the bells ring, I am caught by surprise. Today I resolved to betake myself to church. Well, the best laid plans...

Demetrios said he would like to go, too. Great. I asked him would he please wake me up from siesta by 5:00, so I would have 15 minutes to get ready. No problem.

A sweet kiss and smile awoke me at 5:20. Rush, scramble, everyone knows what that is like, try to retain some good cheer, and out the door. Our church is a five-minute walk; we would only be slightly late. Par for the course.

“I want to go to the Church of the Ascension,” said Demetrios, “Because I want to see if I can get a priest to say a memorial service for us on Monday.”

Demetrios’ high school reunion is going to be on Monday. From what I can gather, it is hardly like anything Americans would think of. The plan is to meet at 10:30 at the Church of the Ascension, which is right across from the old high school, and say a few prayers for departed classmates, and IF a priest can be found, maybe even have a proper memorial service. Has anybody tried actually to arrange for a priest to be available? No, nobody has.

After that, the classmates plan to take a tour of the old school. That is, if they can get in. It’s business offices now. Hasn’t anybody asked, you wonder, or arranged for them to get in? No, nobody has.

After getting glimpses of the old classrooms, the class plans to have a light meal at a taverna. Do you know a taverna that can accomodate 80 people? They will fit somewhere, somehow.

Okay, where’s the Church of the Ascension? Not far. Not if you remember the way after fifty years. But if you take back ways and wind through narrow places and not every street corner is labeled, well, not far turns into something like two miles. We arrived at the church at 5:45, all out of breath.

We sat there for about 20 minutes before we thought to take and read the weekly bulletin. That’s when we discovered the service was scheduled to start at 6:30. Now the trouble with that was, I had our cell phone in my purse, and Mena was going to call sometime between 6:30 and 7:30. Just turn off the phone, you say. We don’t know how! That’s right, we are cell phone illiterate! There doesn’t seem to be any “on/off” button. No way am I going disrupt Vespers by having that loud, jangling tune start playing in my purse!

Well, we decided, let’s at least see if we can find the priest. We were told he was in the parish hall. “We high school boys virtually took over this building, “Demetrios said. “We used to teach classes, put on plays...would you like to see the theater?” yanking open the door to reveal a catechism class in progress.

Oops. Well, how about this room? Yanking open another door to reveal another catechism class in progress.

The priest was teaching adult catechism, as we discovered by a similar method.

We gave up and just went home. Stopping first at our favorite bougatsa place. Bougatsa is made with those thin layers of dough the Greeks call “filo” and it can have a cheese filling or krema. Anybody who knows me doesn’t have to guess which I chose. Krema, of course! Custard. Bit like a custard-filled doughnut. We sat outside making a light supper of it and watching the world go by as evening deepened.

And on our way home, who should we encounter? You guessed: an Old Friend.

It happened when we passed a particular corner where a lot of cats live. A woman was standing there, cats rubbing all over her legs. I opened my purse and took a handful of cat kibble out of the baggie. “No, no!” cried the woman, but it was too late. The cats were already gobbling if off the sidewalk.

“I have plenty of cat food in my bag,” said the woman, pointing at her tote. “You don’t need to use yours. Save yours for other cats.” Then she turned her gaze toward Demetrios and said, “Aren’t you Christos’ brother?”

She is technically a friend of Christos. But somehow she recognized Demetrios. Amazing. So we had a nice chat.

Meeting her made up for a lot.