Thanks to everyone for your prayers. Kostas is on a roller-coaster ride. Yesterday he lost so much blood from the incision in his groin (where they insert the probe) that he fainted and had to be given blood and other fluids. It’s another miracle that didn’t kill him. Because of that, it was touch and go for a while whether the surgery could proceed as early as Monday, but now we are told it is indeed planned for Monday morning. That’s great. Not a day to lose.
My next-door neighbor in Richmond, Dickie, has had a rough recovery, too, from his quadruple bypass. His sugar level shot up and his temperature with it and he refused to go to the hospital. God has been good to him, though, and sugar and temp are both normal now.
This morning we went to a church right next to the hospital where Kostas is. It’s a new church, still bare, ugly, poured concrete on the outside, but beautiful inside.
“Do you remember when we gave some money to build this church?” asked Demetrios. No, I don’t remember; not sure I ever knew.
“Yes,” said he. “Barbara Kypreos offered to match all donations but she only had to give less than a thousand dollars in the end. It was a rather stingy contribution from our parish, I thought. Anyway, it was for this.”
Well, that was rather nice to find out. Doubly nice was that this church is, in itself, a statement! It is actually a double church. The lower level is the Church of St. Mark of Ephesus. You remember him from the infamous robber Council of Florence; he was the Orthodox bishop who alone stood firm against the false union with Rome. The upper level is the Church of none other than St. Photios, he who battled the filioque.
We are in the Demetria, the days leading up to the Feast of Great Martyr Demetrios (October 26). He is one of numerous saints this city has given to the Church, and he is the city’s patron. His feast is therefore a huge celebration here. Lectures and concerts are being given in the Saint’s honor, and symposia and the like. (We haven’t made it to any of them!) There were fireworks over the city a few nights ago, and they were the loveliest I’ve ever seen, more imaginative than most, fancier.
All the dignitaries in Greece will attend services at the Church of St. Demetrios on Friday, where his relics are. They used to exude so much sweet-smelling myrrh that it ran out of the church, down the hill, and into the sea, about half a mile away in those days (more, now). At some point (I don’t remember the history very well) the relics were stolen by Catholics. Recently, they were returned, no longer exuding any myrrh.
Speeches will be made and telecast, all the shops will be closed, flags will fly. The flags will be doing double duty, as Sunday is another holiday, Ochi Day. It’s the annual celebration of the day in 1940 when the Italians told the Greek ambassador they were going to invade unless Greece surrendered before dawn. The simple reply was, “Ochi!”, NO! There will be a big military parade and we will all wave our little flags and buy doughnuts from passing vendors.
We’re hoping to have yet another cause for celebration by then: a Kostas on the mend!
Sunday, October 21, 2007