All over these Cyclades Islands there are many, many chapels. The small ones are maintained by families and once a year a priest comes to lead the Divine Liturgy (Mass or Holy Eucharist). There are also 2 monasteries with their own chapels. Yesterday we hiked about 6 or 7 miles and about 1000 vertical feet to the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian. This is the John who wrote the Book of Revelation from the island of Patmos, which is visible from the monastery on Amorgos.
I have been lighting candles in these chapels as a symbol of my prayers for the parish. Sometimes I pray for individuals and sometimes for the parish as a whole--for health and for guidance through the challenges.
Yesterday at the Monastery of St. John the Theologian we met a person who lived there as a caretaker. She is on the pathway to becoming an Orthodox nun. And she blew me away with her kindness, generosity, graciousness, and hospitality. She lives up there all alone--a hermit. And when people come up to the monastery to visit the buildings (the monastery no longer has monks), she accompanies them into the chapel. She offered us shots of Raki (liquor brewed in Greece that's a sign of welcome--you down a shot of it as your symbol of receiving the hospitality). She offered us the treats called "Turkish delight" -- jellies with powdered sugar coating. She was so very kind and understanding, ushering three of us women to the latrine she uses. She poured out herself to us.
Saint Benedict always told his monks to treat every visitor as if he or she was Christ. And this is how we were treated by this beautiful nun-in-the-making. As we were leaving I told my hiking partner Katy that this woman was spiritually incandescent--and she agreed wholeheartedly. Would that each of us could be like that!
1. Candles symbolizing prayers in the monastery chapel
2. The front of the church--behind the curtain is where the sacred mysteries take place; only the priest is there. The people stand outside. On the left, the icon of the Theotokos, Mary, Mother of God. On left, the icon of Christ Pantocrator, ruler of the Cosmos.
3. Our hostess at the Monastery
4. One of the many cats on this island. I love this photo.