Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Metropolian's Visit

Metropolitan Hilarion visited our church from July 16-18. He arrived Thursday in Charleston where Fr Mark picked him up from the airport and drove to Summerville to eat lunch with Fr Anastassy at his restaurant. After that they drove up here, and arrived around 4:00. I was terribly nervous all day, which I was only able to relieve by cleaning the house and hollering at the children.

For me, in situations where there is a long period of preparation (in this case several weeks of
real preparation), there comes a point where I feel like I'm on the edge of a precipice until the moment of truth arrives. Then I give up all hope of improving anything and relax entirely, ready to accept a fall into the abyss of success or failure.

We have had two bishops (Bp Gabriel & Bp Kallistos Ware) and now one metropolitan in our home, and I have to say the Metropolitan was the most enjoyable. Undoubtedly it's because I am a bit older, and perhaps better practiced in receiving people in my home now, than I was when the other two bishops visited. But the Metropolitan was very kind and friendly--not that the others weren't--and seemed to enjoy his visit--not that the others didn't. There was just something about the visit that felt more comfortable.

When he arrived, Rose, LMark & Ella ran downstairs to get a blessing. The way Orthodox Christians usually greet a priest or a bishop is to hold out their two hands, over which the priest or bishop makes the sign of the cross. Then his hand is kissed, as one would kiss the hand of Christ. I noticed that Margaret was missing, but because our foyer can get crowded, I did not notice that Max had not yet greeted the Metropolitan. Margaret was feeling shy, but she showed up a few minutes later.

We took the Metropolitan and his cell attendant (Denis) into the den to relax. I got them some water and conversed a little while Fr Mark hurried back and forth doing
something probably related to their bags and whatnot. We talked about the icons I had painted at our church, which he said he liked. We discussed the Russian and Greek methods of icon-painting (the latter method is that with which I am more familiar).

Then Max came into the room. It appears that, at the arrival of the Metropolitan, he had run into his room to change from his t-shirt and shorts, into his "church clothes." I did not ask or tell any of the children to change clothes, because I knew they were going to their grandparents' house. But Max took it upon himself to put on church clothes.

He was wearing khaki pants, his church-shoes (no socks), and a white cotton shirt. He was wrinkly, but presented himself as seriously as a precious, little soldier.

The only problem was he had put on a
girl's blouse (alas, Rose had put the clothes away again).

This wasn't something that we could have pretended was a boy's shirt. It was white with a baby-doll collar and huge, puffy half-sleeves. If I could have stopped myself, I would have, but I tried not to laugh--at least out loud--when I told him, "Max, you've
got to change. ["Why?"] You're wearing a girl's shirt."

He had a look on his face--mortification so purely innocent and sweet--that I hope I never (OK--maybe just a few more times in his life) to see again. While siblings might not have the practice as adults of smothering their laughter, thankfully metropolitans do. Max quickly removed himself from the room.

Rose told me later that she saw Max in his room furiously tearing at the buttons of the shirt. She said, ignorant of the event downstairs, "Hey, Max, can I help you? I think that's a girl's shirt..." Max growled:
"I KNOW!!"

So he returned with a baby-blue polo shirt and again presented himself to me, obviously nervous, but as strong as a little soldier. I told him to get a blessing, and as he did, the Metropolitan said quietly, "Max, I like your shirt."

I hope to post a few more (not so funny) but memorable events from our visit. I also hope to be able to post to my blog more often. I have discovered I find much more enjoyment painting than I do reading, watching TV, or writing this blog. But, for my own sake at least, I hope to keep up with what's going on in my life. I have a terrible memory, and unless I write them down, the tales of my and my children's foibles will be otherwise lost.