Famagusta - Nicosia, October 2015
For personal reasons, I was not able to complete the Cyprus journal. But It’s here again. My pilgrimage continues and it will continue to be a loving space for me and for all who read about it…
Before I launch into our third miracle, let me open the gates of gratitude wide to Yaya, who showed me a small miracle of her own.
One afternoon, I woke up from a nap and found that she had made a gorgeous Panna Cotta. My gluttonous self was hoping she would make it. After admiring it for a few minutes and lusting over the smooth gelatinous mold on the plate, I went outside to be with the plants, or perhaps to listen to a joke in Greek from Pambos.
When I went back inside, moments later, I found that Yaya had poured the sugar-saturated cherry red sauce over the Panna Cotta. But she had poured it over one side only. Then, she had propped the side of the plate where she had not poured the sauce with something - I can’t remember what - so that the plate was slanted.
“Why did you do that?” I asked her.
Katerina explained to me that she wanted to keep the sugary sauce away from my “sugar-free” side of the Panna Cotta so it would not offend my diabetes.
I put my hands over my heart, astounded at this small but powerful gesture of love. I refrained from pointing out that the Panna Cotta itself was full of sugar. I ate it gladly and if my glucose spiked then it was because of an old lady’s stoic and disarming love.
We went on a road trip to visit a monastery. In all my touristic ventures before, I had never felt comfortable inside a church or cathedral because, to me, it always felt dark and oppressive inside. This time, I went with the intention to celebrate all acts of worship as a road to the Divine. I wanted to pray where the monks and nuns prayed, to merge my seeking soul with theirs.
We found the monastery after a few twists and turns. The weather was not accommodating at first, sleepy-eyed and gray. Then, when we arrived, the sun peeked over the hills and the olive trees.
We made sure our clothing was modest and respectful, wrapping ourselves with shawls, and we walked up the tree-lined lane. I searched for water to wash up in the Islamic way to prepare myself for whatever prayer I would be guided to experience in the monastery.
We went inside. I felt my familiar reaction to churches creep up on me. It was dark and tight and the energy felt like the inside of a dark glass bottle that was abandoned in the sun. I observed the many images of Jesus Christ being tortured on the cross and it made me cringe. I wondered why violence was part of many religions.
We stood by some odd-looking pews that looked like armchairs in straight-jackets, side by side. Katerina explained to me why they were designed that way but as she was speaking I noticed a sister cleaning the murals of Jesus Christ at the alter. She sprayed windex from a spray bottle and then wiped it. She repeated this, not in the way that a housemaid would, in a hurry, in a rush, to get to the next cleaning task so she could go home. She did it with such devotion in big mesmerizing circles. She cleaned some spots of glass twice even though there was nothing to clean.
Katerina saw where my gaze was fixed. She stopped talking.
“This is our third miracle,” I said to her, “Look at her devotion.”
What if we approached God, or whatever Higher Power we believe in, with this devotion every single day. I asked myself, what if I could experience one act during the day that is done entirely with the heart and dedicated with all I have to God. What if I washed the dishes this way, with love. What if I brushed my teeth as a gift? What if every moment I lived fully, with all of its ripe juices, is an act of devotion in itself, a prayer? What if every cloud that passes by or every song that we hear on the radio on our road trip is a prayer in this pilgrimage?
That nun was wiping Jesus with her heart.
I wanted to pray. But not in here. I wanted the Earth and the sky and the trees. So I headed outside. At the door, I lit a candle and sent my wishes and desires up God, then I strolled outside and found my spot, under a tree in the middle of a small enclosure surrounded by bushes. Katerina went and lost herself between the olive trees because she secretly was an olive tree.
I prayed like I was taught to pray. And in the end found myself intuitively thanking everyone I met - or haven’t met yet - who taught me something on this path. I thanked my therapist in Boston, my life coach and some people I deeply loved. I thanked Lissa Rankin, Liz Gilbert, Dr. Bella, who led me to Matt Kahn and many more. I thanked the man who spent years of his life in the solace of a cave, in search for enlightenment. Gratitude flew from my body toward these people to the point that I felt I was overflowing. Tears of joy escaped me to create a path for the gratitude to flow downwards to the brittle twigs poking my knees.
Later when the sun became a golden pomegranate, we picked figs from the road, both of us satiated, cleansed, and thankful for this stop in the pilgrimage.
Of course, as it is the pattern with growth, once I would reached the state of harmony, the Universe would decide it was time for hardship. We were planning a camping trip to the beach. Sounds like the sort of thing you would enjoy on a vacation, doesn’t it? But this was not a vacation. Once I had decided it would be a pilgrimage, there was no escaping my true nature. I had no idea a storm of magnitude was brewing inside me.
But for now, we went back to Nicosia to let our prayers settle in and hum inside our bodies. And for a good old cup of coffee.
Disclaimer: The images above are borrowed from google images. Do forgive me as I did not take many pictures during this trip.