Sunday, November 18, 2012

Our Last Days in Greece

Having been too tired until now to share with you our doings during our last few days in Greece, I now try to summarize...

Mena gave us a farewell party on Thursday night, and she cooked some splendiferous dishes, which I forbear to describe as we are now into the Christmas Fast...So we had one last chance to see a lot of the friends.  It didn't ger emotional at the end because we never really feel ourselves apart.  It was just joyous.

Friday remains a blur; I only remember going out with Stelios and Anastasia, who live only a block from us, but whom we hadn't seen until then because of being so busy.  (This trip to Greece really was, overall, more of an ordeal than fun.)  We had coffee and dessert at their favorite sweets shop near where we all live.  They are fine people, delightful people, kind and loving people, who agree out loud with everything you say.  One of their sons got married in September and we would have been invited to the wedding had they known we were here... The other son has just set up his medical practice.    So all is well in their lives (if we ignore the political situation for the nonce).

Saturday night Matushka Constantina came, with her husband, who is now Father Deacon John, and her brother, who is now Father Deacon Matthew, and his wife, Matushka Catherine.  (Matushka is "Little Mother,' which is what a clergyman's wife is called in the Russian Orthodox Church.)  These are four Canadians (from New Brunswick) who are not only all related, but all best friends.  They all travelled their road to Orthodox Christianity together, starting as philosophy students, moving through Anglicanism, and finally coming to holy Orthodoxy.  They have been studying in Thessaloniki for some years now, each taking a master's degree in theology, while Fr. John is working on his doctorate.  (Their first year was devoted just to learning Greek; then came theology courses.) 

What can I say?  They are all wonderful.  They listened kindly as Demetrios described to them the book he's writing.  He doesn't have many people he feels he can share it with, so that was a big gift to him.  We then talked spiritual matters, which was a blessing to both of us.

Catherine and Fr. Matthew  are going to stay in Thessaloniki through the winter while he finishes up his dissertation.  After that, they aren't sure what.  Constantina and Fr. John are going soon to Newfoundland, to minister to a community of Orthodox Christians who as yet don't even have a church.  The community is certainly blessed, to be going to have them!

We broke up perhaps later than we ought to have, given that it was a Saturday night, but Demetrios and I, at least, weren't sorry.

Sunday after church, Demetrios said, "Leonidas and Ianna want us to come over..."

"NO!"  I said.  "We haven't even begun to pack and we have to leave the house at two o'clock in the morning to get to the airport.  No way!"

"Only for a little while," said he, patiently.  Yeah, right.  Little whiles, among Greeks, tend to stretch out into whole afternoons and then some.

"Because they're invited to Tatiana's [one of their daughters] for the midday meal."

OH, okay.  That would put a narrow time limit on it, and I would like to see them again...  So to their flat we went.

And it's a very, very good thing we did, because before very long, Ianna said, "Have you reconfirmed your flight?"

"Not yet," I said.  "I keep forgetting."

"I think you should," said Ianna, "because yesterday I heard from a taxi driver that the flights to Zurich have been discontinued." 

OOPS.  Yes, we were scheduled to fly SwissAir to Zurich, and USAirways from Zurich to Philly, and thence to Richmond. 

We wouldn't even have known how to begin, had not Leonidas and Ianna and Mena been there.  As it was, it took most of the afternoon to find out that yes, that flight had been discontinued some time ago, and to make alternative arrangements.  At no extra charge to us; that was the good part.

The bad part was, the alternative arrangements involved leaving our house by ten p.m. that night, which meant we weren't going to get the little sleep we had counted on. 

We hurried home to pack and were still re-arranging suitcases when Mena arrived to drive us to the airport, where there were very tearful farewells.

"Useless Airways" wasn't so bad this time.  It helped that this time we were aware they close the boarding gate ten mintues before the scheduled departure.  My only criticisms are that the lavatories were absolutely appalling, the cabin was too cold and the "blankets" no thicker than a flannel sheet.  However, as it wasn't a full flight, we managed to wrap three of them around poor, shivering Demetrios and two around me.   Oh, and the food disagreed with both of us and there wasn't enough of it.

By the time we got to Philadelphia, Demetrios could hardly walk from grogginess and a more than moderate case of nausea. (Mine had gone away.)  By the time we got back to Richmond, we'd been awake 40 hours straight.

A very long sleep helped enormously; we woke up feeling tired but well and we managed to get a full day's work done, per the checklist I published. 

We are still tired, but we do seem to have more or less fallen right into the appropriate sleep pattern for this time zone.  Those 40 hours without sleep must have completely discombobulated our biological clocks, because they are not protesting at the 7-hour time difference.

I've now gotten back from a marvelous couple of days in North Carolina with the children and grandchildren; but that's another post and I don't know when I'll have the time to write it.

OH - and I've just ordered Constantina's newly published  book for myself for Christmas, as well as Fr. Andrew Damick's book, Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy.


Anam Cara said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anam Cara said...

Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy is a WONDERFUL book. I had listened to the podcasts, but am a visual learner so was thrilled to have the book. It's even better than the podcasts! I have ordered some as gifts.

It not only explains differences in beliefs, it shows you how they got there which is SO very important to understand. I think it is a wonderful tool for evangelism.

matushka constantina said...

You mixed us up (easy thing to do)! Fr. John and I are heading to Newfoundland while the other two are sticking around in Greece. (Fr. John laughed when I read it to him and said, "Newfoundland might be confused by that!")
We loved seeing you two as well!

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

L:OL! Sorry about that. I knew better but am still so tired...

Anyway, I've now corrected it.