My name is Jonathan. This is my very first Blog post in my entire life! As a point of truth, this may very well be the first time I have ever seen a Blog, too. Isn’t that sad!?! It’s like I’ve been living under a rock! Well, I may not have been living under a rock, but I can certainly say that my life has been firmly planted onto a Rock. It’s true! I was Baptized AND Chrismated into the Byzantine Catholic Rite after only a couple of months of life in this world. My life is so deeply planted into Christ, the Rock, that I’ve actually been Baptized twice! My father is Greek Orthodox; my mother is Byzantine and even though you only need one Baptism in life, my parents gifted me with one in both Faiths. For the record, no, it doesn’t make me more holy, but I like to think that my parents thought I needed Christ so badly that they ensured I got that extra dose of the Jesus-Medicine…just to be sure. Considering how big of a handful I was for my parents growing up, I can appreciate that thought, especially after having children of my own and being dished the same guff I doled out! Then again, maybe it was God’s Plan all along. From what I’ve seen so far, God is exceptional at meeting people where they are at, meaning He gives you what you need to seek Him…always. Him knowing I always need that extra bit of reassurance in nearly every aspect of my life, perhaps He wanted to make sure that I was Baptized twice simply for me to rest securely in the pool of surety that all paranoid people relish.
So yeah, my life has always been deeply penetrated by Him, and, honestly, I have a hard time NOT seeing His Hand at work in it.
For example, there was the time when I was about five and I went with my mother to Rhodes, Greece for a doctor’s appointment. We were living in Karpathos at the time; no, we didn’t travel to Greece from America just for a doctor’s appointment, but that would have been cool! Anyhow, my dad didn’t give my mother much cash and I don’t think we had an ATM card; the plan was for us to make it to the bank in Rhodes before it closed. Well, unfortunately by the time we were able to island hop, the bank had closed, leaving my mother and I without a way to get more money. My mother, being the amazing woman that she is, did everything she could to not alert me to the seriousness of our dire situation. Here is this forty year old woman with her five-year-old son stranded on an island of strangers with nowhere to rest our heads or buy food!
I remember my mother and I walked great distances that day (after all, we had no way to pay for a taxi). She was very smart to make me think we were on an adventure and had to walk (despite my whining) or we would miss something! I totally bought it. When I got hungry, she was able to turn the few drachmas we had into tiny meals of candy. What kid is going to say no to candy for lunch and dinner? The only problem she couldn’t solve was where we were going to sleep. As evening started to approach, my mother started a desperate hunt for beds. Quite by Providence, as the sun was setting and darkness was nearly upon us, we found our way to a beach. On that beach we found two single-person blow-up rafts – you know, the ones that are long and skinny with the headrest built in? Perfect! We found beds! But, here is the thing. These “beds” were totally abandoned, weighed practically nothing, and were resting still on a beach of an island where the wind is strong. Hmm…makes you wonder, right? Why didn’t they fly off? What are the chances that their owners would have left them that day on that beach? Or, if they did fly off, why did they suddenly stop when we happened onto the beach? Further, why were there exactly enough – two? It’s pretty easy to write things off in life as coincidence, but if you really start to measure all of your coincidences you might find that it actually makes MORE sense to have faith. Faith in the fact that there is a God who loves you beyond your own comprehension and, because of that Love for you, has plans for you for good. Don’t believe me? Ask the prophet Jeremiah. JER.29.11
We waited around for a minute to make sure someone wasn’t coming back for them. No one did come and as we waited, the rafts just sat there, despite the wind, as if they were waiting on us to take them. We did. We carried them off to find a safe place to make them beds. After all, the streets are no place for a five-year-old, or any person for that matter. Sad to say, but we never did find a house or a building to safely find shelter in, but the weather was indeed perfect camping weather – no rain or sweltering heat. After all, God was looking out. Being the smart woman that she is, my mother reminded me that we were on an adventure and that no adventure is complete without sleeping on a raft under the stars! Again, I totally bought it. I went to sleep that night thinking what an amazingly awesome day I had with my mom. I thought how jealous my two sisters would be when I told them all the cool stuff we did. I thought how much I loved my mommy. With that last comforting thought, I took one last long look at the dazzling stars high above me and my mother in the raft next to me. Taking it all in, I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and drifted off safe and sound to sleep.
The next morning our lives quickly turned back to normalcy when the bank opened. I don’t remember much about our return trip home or my mother’s visit with the doc. Rather, I remember the day that God used a loving mother and some forgetful tourists to provide one of the most exhilarating days of a five-year-old’s life, despite the truth of the dire situation he actually was in.
Mom, I know the doctors gave you six months to a year, but I couldn’t write my first blog without paying the appropriate tribute to you. You gave me to God in Baptism (twice) and, in return, He taught me my very first lessons of Love through you.