Six were baptized and one couple was married in Fiji two weekends ago. I remember the joy we felt when my children were baptized. It is something that covers the day like a blanket. It is something like an atmosphere that transpires between people, believers, acceptors of this reality, this heavenly joy. I can't understand it only that it is different from the happiness that people try to manufacture through behaviors and traditions. It is something that propriety can't touch, but it is something to which hospitality eludes.
Now what is it like there in Fiji? Well a lot like the joy of the baptism. I can say that when we call, there is a welcome so deep that we feel like we are there. Our surroundings seem to disappear. We hear their background noises, and "see" ourselves there amongst them. Joy enters, but where? How? Why?
Their joy is great.
But again, how can we understand? It has been a long time since I saw my Theo Kostanti pick a cantaloupe from his garden and present it to me as if he were a part of a miracle. There on that little island farmhouse property, in the middle of the Mediterranean, just at the edge of his garden, he showed me the fruit, and I could feel his whole being wrapped around the plant bearing. He waited to see me smile, and join him in that joy, with his eyes glistening and his eyebrows raised, his mouth open. That moment was a festival in itself. A quiet, precious, festival of gratitude and anticipated pleasure of a gift from God, of the ground, of his labor, his long awaited treasure. This is how I understand what is happening in Fiji right now!
So the news I hear over the phone and through the Metropolis of New Zealand website is just like that. Joy. And it penetrates the stress of these days of packing, letting go, and of the sorrow of leaving loved ones. It is strong, and welcoming.
Today at coffee hour after Divine Liturgy, many people wanted to say goodbye. I am not ready for that, but I must be ready for them. I don't want to squelch their expressions, but I also don't want to stop them there. So, I brought with me little treasures from home to share, to give, to let them know that I want to leave a piece of me with them. And I want to let them know that this is not the end of anything. We are all journeying to the place where we all will meet. We are all in the hands of the only One who can keep us joined together, no matter where we may be. There is an intimacy within us that cannot be denied, and can't be trusted to physical closeness alone.
I know that with some we will stay in touch. I know that some, it will seem impossible, even though I don't want it to. No matter how much they say they will miss me (and I know how very much they will miss my husband their priest), I am sure that I will miss them much more.
Again I am tired and need to rest now.
May God's blessing be with us all!