Γειά σου, Παππού!
How does the saying go again? Life happens while you plan? I wonder if there’s a saying like that in Greek? I’m sorry I can’t ask you now. But I’m sure you’re smiling, since I’m trying to improve my Greek.
Life has such a weird way of turning out. I’m not sure if you ever met Johnny from Greek camp. We (my siblings and I) met him at camp, never realizing that our parents knew each other. I guess that’s how self-centered a child’s mind can be. LOL! Over the years, we grew apart, however, his mom, Mrs. M, and I grew closer. We did things like attended Bible study together and church events. We recently attended a wonderful Christmas benefit concert of a Pan-Orthodox group, who sang like angels!
Mrs. M invited me over to her house last week to practice making προσφορά (prosphora). It’s funny because she speaks so softly, that I thought she said she’d help me with it because she’s made it. Turns out she has never made it before and has a special recipe for it from her sister, who lives in another state. Although all 3 hadn’t turned out, we found out that, despite our 20+ year age difference, we had a lot more in common than we realized. Also, of course, with her life experiences, I learned a lot about cooking, as well as things like taking care and using a Κανδήλι (candili- candle for a prayer corner). We also shared wonderful memories of the past.
She taught me kneading this dough is like washing clothes by hand. After recommending that, she gave me a sly sideways glance knowing I had probably never known how to do that. I blushed in acknowledgement of that truth and stared at my shoes. I knew she meant nothing of it, except to elicit a smile. However, at that moment, I became very aware of not being thankful of the blessings that already had and have been present in my life in general. I had been throwing myself little pity parties getting anxious about my situation. I shook it off and returned her smile with the best I could muster not wanting her to think that she upset me at all. Suddenly, a flash of an image of the washing machine in your house came to mind. I told her how you had the kind that had a roll at the top to squeeze the excess water out of it. She relayed a funny story about one of those of when she first came to America from Greece (Κέρκυρα) in her teens. She helped a woman with her household chores; washing the woman’s family’s clothes using one of those was one of them. One day, the clothes began to get stuck on the roll and became entangled. She panicked thinking she couldn’t get the clothes unraveled from the roll. She thought her only option was to cut them off. Thank goodness the woman was kind hearted. She laughed when she saw what had happened, and taught Mrs. M how to use the machine to unravel the clothes, God forbid, it ever happen again.
We had a good laugh about that. Then a sudden panic hit me. We said the beginning and middle prayers for the prosphora, but didn’t make sure the Κανδήλι was lit. I asked her if we could light hers. She gave me a serious look and stared at me for a moment. “The Κανδήλι was lit, but went out right before you came”, she gravely replied. Shivers ran through me. The Κανδήλι was in front of a luminous gold icon of the Θεοτόκος (Theotokos) holding Άγιος Χριστούλι (Baby Christ). Their faces appeared soft and loving, yet were either of them trying to communicate something to me? Or was this a cunning trick of the evil one?
Without hesitation, Mrs. M got out a new wick and gave me instructions as to how the Κανδήλι should be prepared, where to purchase supplies, and so on. It was as if Mrs. M read my mind. She not only knew I needed to learn (which I have been wanting to but afraid to ask), but she did it in such a maternal way that it allayed any fears I had of the timing of flame extinguishing. She never once implied anything judgemental as to why I didn’t know these things having been born and raised in the Orthodox Church.
Throughout our time together, Mrs. M helped me practice my Greek. I have a long way to go as far as speaking it is concerned, however, I’m glad to know my understanding of it is much better than I realized. I do hope and pray I can pass some of this on to my kids, despite the fact they’re all adults now. I was so impressed when Mrs. M was insistent that we jot down notes for next time in order to correct our mistakes. She’s a much better woman than I, who was afraid to once more face the rejection of my baking skills. On a lighter note, hopefully next time my mom will be able to join us.
Until then, my dearest Παππού!
Σ’αγαπώ πάρα πολύ! 🤗💗 Καληνύχτα!
P.S. Mrs. M called me while I was in the middle of typing this. She spoke to her sister about our experience making the προσφορά. As it turns out, it’s a good thing we wrote down the improvements needed to be made for next time. They matched exactly what her sister suggested! I have great hope for the next time! That it looks like one of the first I made. 😊