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An anarchist's New Year's Eve

Source: http://plibyos.blogspot.com/2011/01/blog-post.html




I don't know if you've noticed, but nowadays you bump into people from the past.  Friends that you haven't seen in years. Friends whom life brought you together with and then parted.

That applied to me also, this year. As I was walking along the streets of my city, I ran into an old friend. A person that I hadn't seen in many years, because our paths had separated.  At least hypothetically. At a level of ideas, given that ideas can separate you.  Only life and experiences can unite hearts. Ideas and ideologies divide. And to the degree that Christianity is NOT an experience and way of life but only an ideology, it will divide us.

We had lost each other for years. He had remained in the realm of anarchists, while I had entered the Church. Not necessarily opposing realms. More or less the same sensitivities have settled in their folds, but let's leave that detail for another time...

We exchanged greetings and wishes and embarked on a brief chat, standing there on the street.

-Well brother, how did you spend these last few days?  With the family?

-Errrr.... almost, father, he replied.

-Where did you spend New Year's Eve? At home with the family and friends?

-No, father... he said, with the strength of his soul.

-Where then?

-At the Prison, father, like I do every year. We the anarchist comrades gather every year outside the prisons; we sing, we shout slogans, we play music and generally create a warm atmosphere of support, solidarity, companionship and hope for our fellow-men, who on days like these are deprived of a person's greatest commodity, which is his freedom.

I was truly taken aback. My eyes were staring at him with admiration. My heart rejoiced with the things I was hearing. A surge of emotion and hope blossomed inside me.... Yes, sensitive souls still exist. Hearts that love.... that feel they can resist and do.

But at the same time I felt ashamed. I felt inadequate. In front of him, a nothing.  Before God, accountable.  To Christ, an unworthy disciple.

-And you, father? Where did you celebrate the new year? 

What was I supposed to say to him? That I was at my cozy little home... Like a good Christian urbanite... That if I was an actual priest, I should have been at the side of the damned on this earth...

Then, the words of our Christ automatically came to mind: "Not everyone who says to me 'Lord, Lord' shall enter the kingdom of heaven; only the one who does the will of my father..." (Matth.7:21)

And before I could recover from that, I felt a second slap to my conscience, by the words of Christ: "...I have other sheep, which are not of this courtyard..." (John10:16)

Until I eventually heard Christ shouting out loud inside me:  "...I was in prison, and...."  (Matth.25:36)

And now I ask you, which of the two had enforced in his life the will of God? Which one had incorporated Christ's message in his life?

I don't care what an anarchist says or believes. He taught me - the priest - and he checked me, not with his ideas, but with his experience. With his life and his act.

When the millions of urbanite Christians in Orthodox Greece were eating their stuffed turkey, and while the dancing and celebrations were well under way, a handful of people who are referred to as "hooligans" in every corner of Greece were staying outside, in the cold, outside prison walls, to celebrate the coming of the new year together with our imprisoned brethren - our fellow-men - the ones that Christ was referring to, when He said "I was in prison, and you came to me..."

And then, once again I heard the words of the Elder Cornelius echoing inside me: "...my child, there are certain prostitutes who come to confession, that make me want to fall at their feet and reverently kiss their blessed hands..."


Article published in English on: 5-3-2011.

Last update: 5-3-2011.