A saintly Fool for Christ in the heart of Athens ( Part 5 )

 He begged for alms, to give them to others...
There are poor and unemployed who ask for help every day, but nobody can ever know what diamonds and holy souls are hidden behind every beggar that we meet.
He then went on to describe the incident with the money that he gathered from begging and deposited inside the charity box, which we described earlier on. I have many things to tell you, dear Christians, because I believe that the riddle has now been solved, and for this, I must thank mister Anastasy. I will narrate on ly one incident, and then I will let mister Anastasy take over.
"One afternoon, Crazy John was standing in front of the icon of the Holy Mother. I was in the office. I could hear him talking and I could hear -without seeing- that he was conversing with a woman, I paid no attention. When I came out of the office, I could see only Crazy John, and there was nobody else inside the church. The sacristan was away on an errand. Crazy John approached me and, after prostrating himself before me as he usually did, he said:
--'Father, you should go to Mrs.Stamata after Vespers. She is waiting for you to give her Holy Communion because her hours are numbered and she may not make it through tonight."

--"And how do you know this?" I asked him.
--"A woman told me, a while ago", Crazy John replied.
--"And why on earth didn't she come and  inform me?"
--"Well, she must have thought I was the sacristan" he said, and departed immediately afterwards.
I have a clear view of the main entrance of the church from my office, and I didn't see any woman entering. But even so, I didn't give it much thought...
After Vespers, I went to Stamata's house. Her daughter was astounded when she saw me, as she was planning to come and notify me the next day so that her mother can receive Holy Communion, and not oblige me to go there in the night. I entered Stamata's room and gave her Holy Communion. She thanked me, and held my hand for a short while, then said to me, breathing with difficulty:
--"Father, please look after my daughter and my grandchildren."
Her daughter was divorced and she was raising her two children on her own. As I was leaving, she asked me who had notified me. I replied that it was the woman whom she had sent to church, who told Crazy John. She looked puzzled.
That evening, two hours after receiving Holy Communion, a little before 10pm, Stamata departed for the Lord. Next to her at that moment were her daughter, her two grandchildren and Crazy John, who was reading Psalms from the Book of Psalms.  I was told this by the late Stamata's daughter, who is here and can verify it.
Then Maria (that was the name of the daughter of the deceased Stamata) sprang up suddenly and said:
--"Tell them father Vassily about the envelope with the money also, which I thought you had left there and for which I had thanked you."
--"Yes" said father Vassily, "Maria had indeed found an envelope on a chair in the room, which contained 100.000 drachmas. She thought I had forgotten it there and she came to give it back to me. But I had no idea about the envelope."
--"But father, you and Crazy John were the only ones who came into our house. when I asked Crazy John, he said that the Holy Mother had sent the money for the funeral expenses, because you are poor."
"The Holy Mother does that sort of thing" he used to say.
--"I didn't take him too seriously and I was convinced that you had sent him and were trying to hide the truth" said Maria.
--"No, child, I would have told you", said father Vassily.....
Constantine, who always used to sit in the last rows of the church, got up - with obvious hesitation at first - and walked up to old Anastasy. As he walked to the pulpit, he noticed that everyone was looking at him in a strange manner. He could see a vague look of wonder in the eyes of the churchgoers, while he was wondering why old Anastasy invited only him to stand by him, during the reading of the letter.
Something unusual was however prompting him, so, after a quick glance at his beloved Katerina, he asked old Anastasy to say a few words in memory of Crazy John. Old Anastasy intended that the letter be read first, then Constantine would have been asked to speak. But father Vassily intervened, saying:
"Let the boy speak first, Anastasy".
With his head lowered, Constantine approached the microphone.
"I regard and perceive myself as the worst miasma that has ever existed in mankind. I furthermore know that you all confront me as a miasma of society, on account of my prior sinful activity. You are absolutely right to do so. That is how I deserve to be confronted by you, because with the life I led, I not only harmed myself, but also those near me - that means you all - but also all those that I caught in the meshes of iniquity. So, I am taking the opportunity that mister Anastasy is giving me, to ask each one of you personally to forgive me. I don't even deserve your forgiveness, because I have harmed you more than you could ever imagine. I harmed our town, our district, our neighborhood. I harmed friends and acquaintances of mine, and parents and relatives, because with my lifestyle, I had brought the mire of debauchery into your everyday lives.
This downhill slide that I had taken was ended once and for all by Crazy John. The prayers of that fool released me from the clutches, not only of one demon, but of an entire legion that had lodged inside me.
I was a transvestite for almost ten years. I believed at the time that happiness could be found in the ephemeral pleasure that bodily contact can arouse. I dressed provocatively; I used to be furious with people. I confronted life as though it were a vessel for pleasures, which I had to make sure I filled, on a daily basis. I experienced the mire of Hell, more than a human mind could ever imagine. That is why I used to regularly change my place of residence, since society had rightly perceived me as an outcast. And that was essentially what I was.  I believed that quarrels, insults and disappointments were the best kind of defence, in my literally vehement obsession to pursue something that deviated from what was socially correct - from the ideals and the values of the Gospel. At the time, I had looked upon my illness as a human right, and was under the illusion that it was an outright normal thing - a thing that nowadays, even top-level leaders tend to advertise as a mere supposed "otherness".
So, there wasn't a single police station in Athens that didn't know me. There wasn't a single courtroom where I hadn't been a "customer" - either as an accused, for having offended virtuous behaviour, or as a witness for the defence or for the prosecution, in various, related cases. I was under the illusion that with my overall immoral activity, I was serving a silent revolution in favour of the acceptance of homosexuality. Hunted as I was, I arrived at your neighborhood too, and presented myself to the kindly, poor old lady Chrysoula, to ask her to let her one-room apartment to me.  That is where I saw Crazy John for the very first time; he had brought over some bread to the almost destitute old woman.
Unlike most other tenants, I wasn't asked too many things by old Chrysoula. She just mentioned that the 30.000 drachmas she was asking for was the only income she would have, to make ends meet; so she asked me to not delay my payments because she had to pay for the bills, the building maintenance, as well as to buy her other basic needs.
"Oh, my dear child Constantine, God must have sent you! The apartment hasn't been rented out for three months and I am living off the help I get from mister Apostolis the baker and mister Pantelis the grocer here, who send me bread and provisions with this fool here", she said, pointing to Crazy John.
"But I never sent you any bread Chrysoula, as I wasn't aware of your situation" Apostolis spontaneously remarked. 
"Nor have I ever sent you any provisions", Pantelis added.
"But that's what Crazy John told me!!" old Chrysoula replied, totally at a loss...
After this small and "endearing" intervention, Constantine continued:
"Crazy John always used to conceal his good deeds... He may have brought you food, my dear Chrysoula, but to me, he brought God".
Constantine's eyes became misty, and tears began to fall. Everyone was now becoming tearful, along with him. He took a deep breath and continued:

1 comment:

  1. I love reading about this sweet man. What book do the stories come from?