Last night as we sipped wine and watched the sunset behind the hills and mountains that encircle it, we listened to the church bells ring out across the town at precisely 6 p.m. – the loudest of which came from that big church you see towering over the town in the photo above, St. Nickolas, Agiou Nikolaos, one of five Greek Orthodox churches here.
This morning we woke to the melody of clanging church bells announcing Sunday services on this second most special Sunday of the Easter Season. Later while strolling through town, we decided to drop in on services.
If you’ve not attended a Greek service when visiting this country, you are missing the opportunity to experience first-hand a bit of its history and tradition. It is a moving experience –even not understanding a word that is spoken by the priest or by the male congregants chanting the ancient Greek litany; those same words that have been chanted throughout centuries.
An incense haze swirls through the nave. Small prayer candles, lit by congregants, flicker in small groupings. On this Sunday the church was decorated with palm fronds and baskets of laurel boughs.
As the service concluded, the congregants approached the altar to receive bread that had been blessed, similar to communion in our Christian churches. We sat and watched as the process concluded and members of the congregation took photos of their priest.
One lady, after receiving her bread and blessing approached us and gave me her piece then went back and got one for Joel. I wonder if we Americans would be so kind to visitors in our churches?
Some days, like today, I don’t need to remind myself – others do it for me.
Happy Easter week to you all. We head to Crete tomorrow – hope you’ll continue along with us there!