Monday, March 16, 2009

Love One Another -- Now

Sometimes in Orthodox services (ideally, always, but it isn't always so obvious), this miraculous something happens, in which the people are aware of being all one. I do not mean one in values or emotions or purpose or ethnic identity, even when all those are also true; I mean we become aware of living but a single Life. There is the one Life and we're all living it, all living that same Life, together. That happened today at Ero's funeral.

Hundreds of people came, and hundreds of people wept, and nobody was there from any such feeling as, "I really ought to go." And everyone else's sorrow was my own, and my sorrow was theirs, and we all understood this, saw it in one another's eyes.

And about halfway through the service, I figured out something else: Ero wasn't just Daphne's mother, not just Olga and Mary and Trish's mother; she was everybody's mother. Yes, she was. In her quiet, unobtrusive, behind-the-scenes way, she lavished a mother's love upon one and all.

She was a peacemaker. If you had offended anyone, she would go to that person and ask him or her to invite you out, or would ask that person to show you pictures of his latest trip to Greece, or -- or whatever. She always had some practical way of making up that she knew would work. And you'd do what she asked. Not for her, but because she would change your heart to make you want to do it.

She saved those little postcards we all used to get in the mail about missing children. She saved them and prayed for each missing child individually, by name, every day, and then for all missing children everywhere, and for their parents.

She made a huge mark in this world, and one marvel is how she did it. She wasn't educated. She wasn't an elected official; as far as I know she never headed up any church organization or even any committee. She wasn't any sort of dignitary. She wasn't rich. She didn't have an illustrious career or any of what this world would call "accomplishments". She wasn't a head of state, wasn't thrown to any lions, didn't evangelize a country or write a book or star in a movie. So how did she manage to change so many people for the better? How did she manage to leave so large a legacy and one so much more important and lasting than that of any celebrity? Simply by her love and her humility. By being Christ-like. By being extraordinarily good. If you want to leave your mark on the world, this is all you need.

Matthew told me that on Thursday night, her suffering had become so difficult that he prayed, "Jesus, please take her now!" Then he went into her room, scooped her up in his arms, and said, "Baby, I love you so much." She opened her eyes, looked at him and then at the ceiling, and died. In his arms. Those were the words she wanted to hear; those words were all she needed to make her feel her life had been a successful one.

I wasn't going to go to the cemetery. It's a cold, dark, damp day and I thought I'd rather help in the church kitchen getting the meal ready. But then it seemed I ought not leave Demetrios alone, to go by himself, who was also pretty shaken. And it seemed that to see her body to her actual grave was one last small service I might render Ero. "Not that she cares," I added, to Demetrios.

But she does, he assured me. She will still treasure every token of love, and God will count it, too.

And that's when the peace descended upon my soul at last, when I realized he was right; it is not too late to be of service to Ero. There's still her family, and the best thing one could ever do for her was always to be good to her family. That's without doubt still the case. One can still take very good care of her family. Pray for me, that for Ero's sake, I shall not fail in this, at least.

One might also take up her prayer for missing children. I wonder if those postcards have been saved...


Isabella said...

Beautiful and comforting thoughts to soothe grief...being the only Orthodox in my family, and wrestling with the recent loss of my dear (and so young) brother...maybe you can answer some questions I have about death and grief...I wanted to email you, but I can't find an email address/link...if you would not mind, could you please email me.

If you would rather not, I understand.

If you would be willing to be so kind and generous with your time...there is a link to email me at my blog-(that you visited and left a comment on not too long ago).
It's been rather quiet over there, mostly because I have no words that haven't been swallowed up by the grief and loss...and that is not how it should be...we should not be mourning as those who "have no hope".

"Haunted by the Holy Ghost" -

Prayers and Peace to you,
In Christ, Our Only Hope,


Anastasia Theodoridis said...


Done! I sent you an e-mail I hope has arrived. If not, please e-mail me at:

s-p said...

Such a beautiful life lived so simply. Thank you for sharing Ero with us all. May her memory be eternal.

Mimi said...

Wow indeed. Prayers.

Elizabeth said...

Memory eternal......
what a profound piece of writing, Anastasia.