Friday, May 6, 2011

I met another angel in Beirut!

Gifts from an angel
I met another angel, this time in Beirut. Her name is Christine.

I first saw Christine at Good Friday Mass last month. She was sitting in the last pew at St. Mary’s Orthodox Church of Dormition, or Saydeh, in Makhoul Street off Hamra.

The church was crowded and, for most of the mass, I stood at the back, right next to her. There were crutches next to Christine, but with four other people in the pew, they could have belonged to a woman to her right.

We smiled at each other now and then and she seemed to be keeping a lookout for a seat for me.

I was back at Saydeh on Bright Saturday, or sabt al-noor. We were there for a few hours waiting for the Holy Candle to arrive by plane from Jerusalem via Amman. It is believed if you enter the sepulcher in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the Old City of Jerusalem with a candle, it lights up. This ritual is performed on Good Saturday and representatives of various Middle Eastern Greek Orthodox Churches light their own candle and travel back to their respective countries to spread it among their congregations.

The first icon from Christine, in a wooden frame
That Saturday, Christine was at the same place as the night before and we smiled at each other again. A little later, someone tapped my shoulder and it was her. She said hello, offered me a little parcel with church incense, and went back to her pew. I followed her to thank her and that’s when we exchanged names and got talking.

Christine was proud to introduce herself as an artist who paints icons. She dug into her purse and showed me a couple of samples of her work. My first thought was to ask if I could photograph her and talk to her about her work for Mich Café and we agreed that I would come back to the church, where she spends much her time, for a chat after Easter.

But after a while, she hobbled up to me on her crutches with a worried look on her face. Christine explained that she and her mother were wards of the church, and if I wrote something about her work, she might become famous and the church would stop supporting her.

I tried to tell my new friend Mich Café wasn’t that important and I doubted it would bring her such fame or the church would read my blog. But she seemed so upset and worried I told her to forget the idea.

A couple of days later, one of my friends who goes to Saydeh everyday brought me a little bag from Christine. She had sent me two pieces of her artwork.

The second icon, on a double-sided standing mirror
The two icons, one in a wooden frame and the second on double-sided standing mirror, are cutout pictures beautified with tiny pearls in yellow, red and green. They are two of the most precious gifts I have received.

I am sure Christine is an angel!

I shall cherish her gifts and think of her often and wish her and her mother all good things.

Related posts:
Good Friday Mass in Beirut – 23 April 2011
Off to Beirut in time for Easter – 16 April 2011      
I met an Angel! – 4 August 2010