Monday, September 27, 2010

An Evening With Friends

Vasilea and Manolis invited us to dinner last week, together with 6 others of our and their close friends. 

We bought some flowers to take to Vasilea, and as we were standing on our corner, waiting for Mena and Kostas to come pick us up, a woman passed by.  “Ah, beautiful!” she said, lifting an arm into the air.  “Joy to her who receives them!”  I thought that was so sweet!!!  Demetrios says she didn’t make it up, it’s a common saying.  But, he said, the woman really did expect us to pass on her good wishes, so we did.

Besides Mena and Kostas, the other Mena, quiet and demure, was there with her husband, Ioannis the theologian.  The other Ioannis was there, too, the lawyer and cantor (who, never disappointing us, twice in the course of the meal broke into hymns).  His wife has the same name, but in feminine form, Ioanna.  She has copper-blonde hair, dark-rimmed glasses, and a loud voice, which she finds very useful in animated conversation such as we always have.

Maria was there, too, Vasileas’ and Manolis’ daughter who is conductor of a world-class choir.  She lives in the top storey of a large house Manolis built on his property.  (Her brother and his wife occupy the ground floor.) 

I found Maria working in the kitchen.  Whhen I offered to help, she said, in her perfect English, “Oh, no.  Mother has everything done.  But as I have a guest as well, I’m trying to get our food ready.”

“Your guest is at your house and you’re here?”

“He’s fixing my computer.  That comes first.  We fix the computer and then have dinner.”

Aha.  Method.

Manolis’ and Vasilea’s son Stephanos was there, too.  He is spastic and cannot speak. But he pointed to Demetrios and to me and let it be known he had not forgotten us.  We got big hugs from him.

He was all excited because the moon was almost full.  He always admires the moon very much. 

He eats separately from guests. 

Manolis and Vasilea have a huge house. Our entire apartment could fit inside their living room.  The room is spacious enough to accommodate a grand piano you hardly notice, plus a model sailing ship taller than I am.  There are six chandeliers and two levels in that room. 

Vasilea always puts out such a feast.  I don’t know how she can do it.  There were mixed vegetables, a cheese and veggie souffl√©, meat balls, pork loin, eggplant salad, cheese salad, boiled eggs, tsaziki (plain yogurt with minced cucumber), and three kinds of dessert.  And I’ve no doubt forgotten a dish or two.   

The sexes integrated for once around the table.  I like that, because usually the women sit at one end and talk about their ailments, their grandchildren, and friends they all know but I don’t, while the men sit at the other end of the table and talk – what else? – politics.   This time the conversation was wide-ranging.  It even dwelt for a considerable time upon theological points, such as papismos, protestantismos, and whether the non-Orthodox could be saved. 

“No!” said Vasilea.  “Listen; it’s so simple!  If you don’t have Christ, you don’t have life, because He is life.  If you don’t know truth, you are not saved from falsehood.  If you do not have Christ’s love, then you are not saved from hate, and so on.”

All the others said, “We just do not know.”

I remembered how Joseph the Elder had put it, and Demetrios translated that for me, and it drew general consent:  When God comes to judge, Elder Joseph told his disciples, He will know how a person would have been, had he been Orthodox.

I don’t care for that way of saying it myself, but it settled the argument. 

It certainly does not appear that unbelievers can be saved, and there’s nothing in Scripture that says they can.  Nevertheless, “With God, nothing is impossible.”  Our God works miracles, and there’s no telling what miracles He may work on the Last Day.  Just as He said some within the Church will be pruned away, so we are allowed to hope that some may also be grafted in.  It’s hope, that’s all, but hope in SUCH a God!!!!

Another big topic was the Anti-Christ.  Ioannis the theologian pointed out that throughout history there have been and still are numerous anti-Christs, starting with Roman emperors who styled themselves “King and God.”  The Greek prefix anti means ‘instead of’ (and sometimes ‘against’).  Thus, anyone who sets himself up as being in Christ’s stead or in Christ’s place or in Christ’s person is antichristos.  THE Anti-Christ, the eschatological one, is another matter.  There was much speculation on this topic. 

We broke up around midnight.

Resolve:  although I haven’t the space in my wee house for many people, and my kitchen is tiny, I will have some of these people over from time to time, if only for coffee and dessert!!