Holy souls live among living humans...
"I was under the impression that mister John was a theologian-professor. I surmised that, from his profound theological but equally simplified analyses. He knew the entire Holy Bible by heart, and he would exhort me with faith to read one or two pages every day, from the Bible that he himself had given me as a gift. He even counselled me to kneel before the icon of the Holy Mother every day and describe in detail the day's joys, sorrows and problems.
He used to say "Dear little Calliope, ask our Holy Mother to become your best friend and you will see everything changing around you. Our kind Mother is the kindest Mother of all, the kindest sister, the kindest friend. Talk to Her - She listens..."
Last night, when I rang up mister John and a gentleman who picked up the phone told me that mister John had died and informed me about the funeral, I felt as though I had just lost my father...
Mister Anastasy suddenly jumped up and asked:
--"When did you ring up?"
--"Last night, around 8pm. I wanted to ask him if he was going to come this Sunday when it is my shift, because I have to confess that I trusted mister John more than anyone else - even more than my own parents..."
--"But the apartment was locked since the day before yesterday, and I'm the only one who has keys to it", mister Anastasy said, mystified..
So he turned to the others in the room and asked if anyone else had keys. The replies were all negative...
--"But the voice on the phone sounded so much like mister John's. I just assumed it was a relative of his. But now that you mention it, I remember that he called me "little Calliope" over the phone - and he was the only one who called me by that name! Its just that at the time, I was so upset by the news of his death, that I didn't pay special attention, when I heard the following:
--"And now little Calliope, you will be looking after the children on your own, because your mister John has passed away, and can no longer visit you as a clown..." he said to me over the phone!
I assumed that his next of kin were aware of this activity of his, so I didn't take any notice of those words... I am only now finding out that he had no relatives, and I don't know what to say..."
Just then, father Dimitri who was observing everything in silence while seated at a nearby table, stood up and exclaimed:
"This man is a Saint !!!"
"A Saint! A Saint!" everyone instinctively repeated...
--"I have been listening all this time to the narrations of the adventures of our departed brother John. Everything that you said about Crazy John - as you all call him - are miraculous events that characterize only the saints of our Church. I am under the impression that this isn't a commonplace funeral gathering; it rather resembles a festive occasion.
Calliope's realization that he had spoken to her - albeit deceased - over the phone, shook me to the core, and it reminded me of a similar incident that relates to the life of the holy elder Porphyry the Hut-burner.."
--"Father, young Dimitri wants to say something too", mister Apostoly said.
--"Come on, say it, so that everyone can hear what you told me a while ago about Crazy John."
Young Dimitri was a boy in his early teens. He was going on 14 and was in his second year at High School. He lived together with his brother Paul who was three years younger than himself, and his parents, just two apartment buildings down from where Crazy John lived. During the past year, unlike the other children his age, he had turned to God.
His friends couldn't explain that huge about-face. They all wondered what had happened to make that high-spirited Dimitri abandon his pranks and mischief and turn to studying and prudence. Even his parents had no idea what the reason for his conversion was. At first, they actually believed he had been brainwashed by a heretic organization. But later, they realized that nothing of the sort was lurking behind their son's change. They also noticed that ever since their son turned to God, the problems in their family had begun to diminish. Quarrelling stopped. Teachers' praises at school had replaced their complaints about his mischief...
Dimitri's about-face had changed the family's course. His parents became even more surprised, when they saw their son going to church every Sunday and reading the Holy Bible that Crazy John had given him as a gift. Poor Panagiotis - Dimitri's father - who customarily went to church every Christmas and Easter - became very upset. He discussed the matter with his wife Polyxeni.
--"Say, wife, do you think Dimitri is in trouble? How did he change so much? Is there any chance he has suffered a romantic disappointment because some girlie left him? I am afraid that the priests will destroy him. Not to mention that he risks being taunted by his friends and mocked by them. What do you think? Shouldn't we have a talk with him?" he would say.
Poor Polyxeni would listen to her husband carefully. She never spoke. When the time came and she spoke up, she said:
--"I don't know what to say, my Panagioti. You may be right. I can't hide the fact that those same thoughts had crossed my mind too. But one thing I do know: ever since Dimitri displayed this new behaviour, our family has calmed down. His grades at school have shown a sharp improvement. His teachers have only the best things to say about him. Even they are amazed at Dimitri - they actually asked me if he was being tutored privately. Even young Paul has become motivated, near Dimitri...
Have you forgotten, my dear Panagioti, how much we worried when Dimitri would come home after midnight? Have you forgotten the time we found a packet of cigarettes under his bed and that magazine with indecent photos? Have you forgotten the time we were called to the Police Station to pick up our son who had been held there because he had caused damages together with some others, in the episodes that took place after their school's party? Have you forgotten our neighbors, who constantly complained that Dimitri and his friends would beat Crazy John and make fun of him?
Listen, dear Panagioti: what I can see is that after Dimitri's change, I am far more at ease, and so is this household. Our problems have become fewer. Even our quarrels as husband and wife are minimal. Ever since Dimitri brought God home, smiling and happiness has returned to us. So I wonder, could we be the ones who are wrong? Could we be the ones who were responsible for the path that our children had taken?
Panagioti, instead of worrying about Dimitri, I suggest that we follow him on his path; that we begin as a family to go to church; to do what Crazy John told us to do the other day, when you invited him over to eat with us...
In other words, that we find a good spiritual father and go to confession. That's what the fool meant, when he said that confession is the fuel that drives man towards the heavens. Remember how he would ask us if we would like to travel to Heaven and we laughed at him and regarded his words to be foolishness?"
--"Look wife, I understand what you're saying, but it occurs to me that our friends will laugh at us if we do something like that", Panagiotis replied.
--"That thought also crossed my mind, but then I remembered something else. Remember the time Panagioti when we didn't have enough money to pay the installment on our housing loan and you had asked your friends to help out, and they all forgot us? They all disappeared, and they even stopped calling. When did those friends stand by us? They come over, only when we invite them to eat with us, or go to a tavern with us.
Weren't you the one who told me that they gossiped about us, and that you discovered that deep down, they were pleased whenever they heard us talking about our problems with the children? We would have lost the house, if we hadn't found that envelope with the 100.000 drachmas under our door - which, by the way, we never discovered who had put it there, although I suspect that the fool was behind that gesture" Polyxeni replied.
--"No...no...I had asked the fool, but he flatly denied that he had done such a thing. Besides, how could the fool have known about our financial worries?"
--"He knows everything, since he makes his rounds in every part of the neighborhood. Perhaps he saw us worried and asked Dimitri or Paul. Don't rule out anything, because other families around here have also received envelopes like that."
On the Sunday after that discussion, the parents announced to Dimitri that they would all go with him to church. In fact, they even woke up Paul, who preferred to sleep in on Sundays. "We have only one day for sleeping" he used to say. Dimitri was stunned at first, and he may have thought they were aiming to monitor his moves. But when he saw that this routine was repeated and that his parents acquired a spiritual father and began to read spiritual books, he then began to speak of a miracle.
So, with some coercion by mister Apostoly, young Dimitri began to present his own testimony, Everyone had now turned their attention towards him. Meantime, several other people had gathered around, from adjacent tables.
--"One day" said young Dimitri, "my mother sent me to mister Apostoly's bakery to buy bread. As I was buying the bread, I also did something bad - something that I used to do often with my friends also. Well, I stole a chocolate bar. Mister Apostoly didn't notice, and I was sure that no-one had seen me take it.
But from the next day on, as I left the house to go to school, I would find two similar chocolate bars outside our door, like the ones I had stolen. This went on for about 20 days. I asked my mother who kept putting the chocolates there and she told me that every morning, Crazy John usually rings the doorbells in the building.
--"That guy does such crazy things" my mother said. That was when I realized that the fool must have spotted me when I grabbed the chocolate, and this was how he was taking his revenge. "I'll show that madman, who's trying to make me feel bad for a measly chocolate that I stole" - that was how I used to think, at the time...
The next day, I found chocolates again - one for me and one for Paul, my brother, along with a note that had the ten commandments written on it, with the commandment of "thou shalt not steal" underlined.
I became very angry....
So, as soon as school was out, I went straight to Crazy John's apartment building and rang his doorbell. He opened his door and said with a smile:
--"I'm sorry, my Dimitri. I know you came here to give me a couple of punches for the chocolates. I'm a fool; I deserve those punches. Come on, hit me, as hard as you can. Let your anger out."
I was at a loss, and was going to leave. I got scared. How did the fool know that I had gone there to beat him, seeing that I hadn't told anyone? As soon as this thought crossed my mind, he remarked:
--"My dear boy, you must be wondering who told me you were coming here to beat me, aren't you?"
I nodded affirmatively.
--"Well, you see, just before you came, Saint Dimitrios was here - who is your guardian - and the Holy Mother also, and they told me. You know, they love you very much, and they often talk about you. For example, yesterday, with your schoolmate Helen - when you slapped her for disagreeing with you - you made them very sad and they were crying here, along with me. My dear Dimitri, I will tell you a big secret, under the condition that as long as I am alive, you will not tell it to anyone. Do you accept?"
"Yes" I replied, while I watched Crazy John radiant with joy.
--"Our Lord Jesus dear Dimitri wants to come over to your place, but every time He comes to visit you, He hears quarreling and He departs, very sorrowed. So, He told me to give you His commandments to read, to learn them well, and to observe them all, and only then will He return to live with you continuously. Do you know what it means to live in the same house, together with Him, Who created the entire world? Now leave, go home, because your mother will be getting worried."
I began to leave, but while walking me out, Crazy John said with a smile:
--"Hey, little Dimitri, where are you going? You forgot to give me those punches!"
I left for home as though flying on wings. As soon as my mother saw me, she asked me why I was late, and I told her that "I was at the fool's house, to tell him not to leave any more chocolates on the doorstep, because I will get fat. Mum, give me 30 drachmas to give to mister Apostoly the baker, because I bought something but didn't have enough money on me to pay for it."
She gave me the money, and I went running to the bakery and handed it to mister Apostoly. He was surprised when I told him that I had taken a chocolate bar along with the bread, but had forgotten to pay for it.
--"Well, I was indeed surprised, because I knew you to be a mischievous brat, dear Dimitri. But, as soon as you made that move, I told myself I shouldn't condemn anyone, because you never know what kind of heart is inside each person. From that moment on, I became very fond of you", the baker explained.