Saturday, October 2, 2010

In the Countdown

We have FINALLY sent in our visa applications

They say it will take 4 - 5 weeks for a reply.

It took longer than we anticipated since getting the security clearances as early as we did.  All in all, we are perhaps two or three weeks earlier than the timeline we projected back in August.  Things take time.

The Archbishop in New Zealand tells us that everything will go well and that we should not worry about a thing.  That's how he says it, but in Greek, "Don't worry about a thing.  Everything will be alright." I know it sounds like a very familiar song.  Archbishop Amfilochios may not be a Reggae fan, but he lives in this way.  He gives all of his cares to the Lord and in exchange the Lord blesses him with love for the world.

Not to say that he doesn't have hard work and his own cross to carry.  We do carry one if we are going to follow in the footsteps of Christ.  Rather, he shows us his strong trust in the love of the Lord for us with actions of prayer and with hospitality.  As far as I can tell, this is his trademark.  His sense of hospitality is very gentle and kind, and he treats others in the most positive ways.

 When we were at the Archdiocese in Wellington just a year and three months ago, I was able to witness for myself how the Archbishop practices his faith. While there are many, many examples from which to choose, I am thinking of one in particular.  It was after vespers. The evening had come and dusk was  approaching. We were leaving the building.... Allow me, first, to describe it. The set up there is like this: there are three main buildings. One of them was intended for His Eminence's quarters.  The other two are attached and are across the driveway from the residence.  These are the reception room and offices for the Archdiocese, and the chapel of Saint Andrew, the patron saint of the Archdiocese (in the USA the chapel is dedicated to Saint Paul if I am not mistaken).   In Wellington, the Archdiocese headquarter is humble. 

Church of St Andrew - Wellington
The Archdiocese "Complex" in Wellington, with Saint Andrew's Church on the left

It is a small place, but mighty, as they work to build upon the work of the previous Archbishop, Archbishop Dionysios.  The staff there is small.  There is His Eminence. Father Konstantinos who is at the Metropolis daily.  There is the family that lives next door who cook for the Archbishop and help him with his personal things like laundry and rides to various places, and even household repairs.  the husband even makes candlels for the chapel. 

An hour and a half away are the monks at the Monastery in Levin. When called upon, the come into Wellington. There are three there, Father  Meletios who is originally from Serbia, Father Thadeos who is experienced from Mount Athos too, and the one we all know so well, Father Christodoulos, who is also in charge of youth ministry for the Archdiocese. There is also a nun Gabrielle, who is a "principal player" for the mission house in Fiji.  She takes on any task that the Elder request.  She is also a very good photo journalist.  When you look at the photos on the web page, many of them are hers.  Last but not least there is a young lady there, still a teen who reads and sings the services in the most pious and traditional, and professional ways, very talented and brave.  No Byzantine jazz in her repritoire.

Anyway, back to the original story...

Elder Father Amphilochios Makris of Blessed memory

So there we were just having read the prayers of Vespers, and having had a little snack in the reception hall, leaving the building, each of us for our private quarters.  His Eminence, as he exited, stopped and directed his attention very deliberately toward the photograph of his elder that hangs in the doorway, Amphilochios Makris of blessed memory.  The Archbishop signed himself with the cross, his eyes gazing towards the photo, his heart towards his elder.  We all stood quietly in reverence.  For just that moment, we couldn't see where he was in his heart, but it was with his elder nevertheless.  Later I realized that he does this very often, and with tremendous focus and need.

Now if that were all I could remember from our time with him I would feel blessed.  Why is that?  It is because in that one gesture he teaches many things.  Where do I begin?  How can I tell you what I gleaned from it?  1) Those with great responsibilities do well to lean on others and especially on the saints in prayer.  2) There is great value in taking a moment to pray and to remember those whom we love, especially those who lead us in spirituality. 3) Those who have gone on to the next life are alive and not useless to us, but a great help, especially those who have demonstrated great faith. 4) There is value in a moment of silence and reflection regardless of the circumstances we are in at the time.  

The Archbishop does not live as if alone, but rather in a continuing relationship with everyone he knows and with his elder.  Now don't get the two Amphilochios' mixed up.  The Archbishop spells his name with an "f'". His elder with a "ph".

With all my heart I could dedicate an entire BLOG to the memory of Elder Amphilochios Makris of blessed memory. I prefer to encourage everyone to learn about his life and his teachings.  There is a book called Our Gheronta that is written about his life and his counsels.  He is also beautifully portrayed in the book Precious Vessels of the Holy Spirit.  He lived until 1970, and there are many holy things attributed to his life and memory.  He also hails from the village in Greece where my parents and grandparents were born.  Lipso...there's that island again!

Maybe you can see why I refer to it so often.  There was once something very special about it.

Now that the applications are in, we have time to think about getting together with family and friends before we leave.  Not that we weren't doing that already, but now we can do it with more ease. The weather is getting chilly and cold, so I don't think that going to Kings Island is going to happen, but you never know.  We have tickets to a renaissance festival thanks to my sister's connections, so we may go to that next weekend. 

Father Deacon Philemon is on the far right with other seminarians.

Some of you may not know that Father Paul's brother, Deacon Philemon, is getting ordained to the Holy Priesthood on October 17th.  We hope to be there with family and friends. The blessed event is scheduled to take place in Charlotte, NC at the Holy Trinity Cathedral.  Metropolitan Alexios will preside. For us it is both an honor and a blessing to be there.  Plus, we will get to see more family before we depart for NZ.

On that same weekend, we plan to stay with my sister Presvytera Vasilia and her family, Father Athanasios Haros and son Harry.  I haven't been to her house since they moved there a few years ago, so the trip will be doubly special and warm. 

We will have to get back to Dayton by 7 pm that Monday as Raphaela has a class in the evening. That will be a tight squeeze for the family, but it is worth the try. 

May you have a blessed week!

1 comment:

David Chin said...

Welcome to New Zealand!