” A Taste of Heaven” by Janet Scrivens, England

BLOG,Travel July 14, 2011 02:37

topic: TRAVEL medium: TEXT

“A Taste of Heaven” won the ITACA contest in May 2011

Get to know Janet better by going Behind the Story

I booked a holiday in early May, on the Greek island
of Crete, inadvertently finding myself in the midst of Easter celebrations.\

Three English couples, all strangers, laughed and
chatted together, as the people-carrier trundled along the bumpy road. We had been vigorously encouraged to attend the occasion by the owners of the small family hotel where we were staying, and Phillipos had given up his evening to drive us. That year Greek Easter fell in the first week of May, and on the Monday, the ladies of the village made a mattress of woven sticks and grasses, depicting the body of Christ, and carriedit into the church to lie until the week-end. The devoted Greeks were already fasting.

This was Saturday evening, and we were heading towards the small town of Hersonisos. On entering the town, on foot, we were met by women bearing arm-fulls of flowers, and each visitor was presented with a spray of carnations or similar. We purchased candles from a tiny shop, full to brimming with customers.

Aromas of roast lamb, garlic and oregano marinated the evening air and we indulged in a few cocktails and some people-watching. The crowd was multicultural, with visitors from many lands. There were two English bikers, covered in tattoos, one sporting a bright pink Mohican hair cut, conspicuous to a fault.

The crowd ebbed towards the hill. From the top-most rocks, the tiny church was hewn, so small, that it struggled to hold a maximum of six people. The winding path leading up to it was packed with worshipers. The voice of the priest droned on and upwards into the inky velvet sky, until the hour of midnight. A powerful pause, as the crowd held it’s breath, then, over the loud speaker, came the words:-

“Christos anesti – Christos anesti”

The crowd cheered and responded:-

“Alithos anesti – alithos anesti”
(Christ is risen – risen indeed.)

The Priest emerged, holding a large candle, from which he dipped and lit surrounding candles, then those, in turn, lit others. I watched, in wonder, at the river of light slowly winding down the hillside, enveloping us, and my tears flowed as freely as the candle light. Half way up the hill a huge bonfire was lit, illuminating three large wooden crosses, whilst liquid fuel was thrown onto the ocean and ignited.

The scene was awesome. Everyone in the crowd hugged and kissed or shook hands. I noticed the bikers, and how comfortable they looked, clutching their flowers and candles. joining with their family groups to celebrate with a special meal of Magritsa soup and spit-roast lamb. It was time for us to return to the hotel, and allow Phillipos to enjoy whatever time was left, with his family. Here, for so brief a moment, mankind had joined together, in a world without fear or suffering, celebrating Easter, upon the same soil where Jesus and his disciples once walked.

Certainly for me a taste of Heaven.

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