The Holy Spirit
I was invited to the island of Naxos in June 2015 by a Dutch friend living there. The nearest airport from London was Mykonos and thence a boat to the neighbouring island.
Three eventful nights in the gay capital of Greece. Yati oxi? Why not? I wanted to recall my past life there with my ex fiancée Philippe in 1973 all those decades ago. I wanted to wander in the streets, see the windmills and see how the island had changed through tourism over the years.
Overcrowded and overpriced but charming and visually stimulating, I strolled around pushed from pillar to post by the noisy international tourists in the narrow white streets filled with shops, bars, eateries and tourist trash interspersed with expensive designer clothes.
I was tired and hungry by 21.00. My eye caught an Italian trattoria, founded in the 70s, specialising in homemade pasta. Well if it had been going that long, thought I, it must be delicious. I salivated but o me miserum, one had to line up in the street for a table for at least 15 minutes. No way Jose! I could not stand but I was starving. Finally the manageress took pity on me providing a chair to sit and wait impatiently at the bottom of the dreaded spiral staircase to my pasta heaven. How I hated spirals, steps and stairs! Eventually it was time to go up to the noisy overcrowded first floor and gorge.
I thought I would be in and out quickly but the arrival of three 30 something women changed all that. They were olive skinned with dark features possibly Greek I thought. One of them glanced at me longer than normal. I continued eating eager to go to bed and perchance to dream! Then I heard them order in English so I knew they were not Greek but wondered where they were from.
I was nearly done and called for the bill eager to get out of the place and get to bed. I was tired and it was hot. I rose and passed their table. The same woman looked at me again and smiled knowingly.
Being a friendly person I told them the pasta was excellent and what had they ordered and where did they hail from in my usual inquisitive way. South Africa was the reply. I was interested as I had had strong family connections out there. But what heritage? Greek South African I asked? No Lebanese. Interesting I wanted to know more so I asked if I could sit down.
Thrilled, the one who kept on staring sitting opposite me wanted to know my heritage too. They were three sisters on their first trip to Greece. Two worked in finance and one said a curious thing. She hadn't given up her job yet. I concentrated on the sister opposite me whose surname ironically was Issa!!! In the UK one can buy tax free Issas each year!!! What was she doing in life, I enquired? The answer interested me. She had gone back to 'school' leaving the financial world behind to spread the word of the Gospel. A Born Again Christian. Her sister had not yet had the courage to give up.
Why do I keep on coming across these 'missionaries'? I had a lot of contacts to give her in UK, Crete and especially Antalya, Turkey where I was accepted by the whole English speaking Dutch and American International community despite myself and one other lady on the committee of the American church there being non practicing Jewish!
After a lovely time with the girls, I was invited for an ice cream. I love ice cream and so enthusiastically accepted. It was in the ice cream parlour that Issa confessed that she had told her sister that she was compelled to speak to 'that lady' - me! The Holy Spirit had told her. But how she had asked him? You will find a way was the reply! But she's asked for the bill. She's about to go. I must speak to her but I am too shy. You will find a way, the Holy Spirit repeated!! Well the way happened, I stopped at her table!
Why me? Why do I draw these beings to me like a magnet? Issa savoured my every word as I told her about the others I had met over the years. English green haired Liz married to Denis the clown, Indian Coleen, my eccentric jazz singer ex neighbour who proclaimed my house had bad energy in Brighton that I later believed had a curse on it. Boy was she right, the English couple on the plane to Zagreb going to a missionary conference, an Irish lady in Crete with her own private church who I met at a Finnish poetry evening and finally the large international community in Antalya. Plus a Dutch man who I met in the streets of Istanbul who the very next day would be meeting Denis the Chaplain in Kaleici. We promised to keep in touch and we have by Whatsapp.
Then her sister asked me what were my parting words of wisdom.
I replied "Follow your dream!"
Written in Athens September 2015.