Saturday, October 6, 2012

A Flop

We had another get-together with several of our dear friends Thursday night, this time at the home of Manolis and Vasilea. This time, it was somewhat structured; we had agreed in advance we wanted to discuss theological matters. The chosen topic was death, on account of the recent loss of our dear Kostas.

I thought the whole evening was a big disappointment, and this surprised me. I had looked forward to the evening so much and had expected to enjoy it so greatly. Being in a whole circle of Orthodox theologians, including even one professional theologian, how delectable is that?

Far better simply to live the Life of Christ together. This encourages the best in each of us, and the theological insights are by no means wanting! They flow naturally and abundantly from that Life. But sit down for the purpose of intellectualizing about it all and not only is it a complete bore, it also tends to bring out the weaknesses of each of us. It’s as if we had driven the Holy Spirit away.

There were some positives. One is that the discussion appears to have helped Mena, the new widow. Another is that her son, Vasilis, came along, the younger generation! (Younger, I say, although he is pushing 40.) And the discussion seems to have been useful to him as well. And a third joy was Maria, the one who has Altzheimer’s. She did surprisingly well this time. Once or twice, she was heard to murmur, “That’s it, exactly!” And twice she herself had something to say, although she could only say half of it before the rest of it slipped away from her mind.

And that reminds me of another thing I rejoice to observe, one that probably deserves a whole post of its own, and that is how beautifully her husband, Dimitrios, deals with her and with their situation. He never makes her feel ill at ease or embarrassed. He never tries to gloss over her disability or hide it or apologize for it. Neither does he call attention to it. He never chides her for not remembering, nor tries to get her to. He never talks down to her or (heaven forbid) uses the cooing sort of voice most of us use when addressing a baby. He behaves as if his task, which must be very challenging indeed, were the easiest thing in the world, and as if things like turning her fork around for her if she’s holding it upside down were perfectly normal and natural. There’s no fuss whatsoever, not so much as a sigh, not so much as an, “Oh dear!”

Watching that would alone have made the evening worthwhile.


Matushka Anna said...

I think I do know what you mean: the best things flow naturally. There are some things you can "plan to death" even if the planning seems simple on the outside.

Thank you for sharing about Dimitrios. What a beautiful lesson.

Steve Robinson said...

This was wonderful. Thank you!

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