Monday, December 19, 2016
Constantine, who always used to sit in the last rows of the church, got up - with obvious hesitation at first - and walked up to old Anastasy. As he walked to the pulpit, he noticed that everyone was looking at him in a strange manner. He could see a vague look of wonder in the eyes of the churchgoers, while he was wondering why old Anastasy invited only him to stand by him, during the reading of the letter.
Something unusual was however prompting him, so, after a quick glance at his beloved Katerina, he asked old Anastasy to say a few words in memory of Crazy John. Old Anastasy intended that the letter be read first, then Constantine would have been asked to speak. But father Vassily intervened, saying:
"Let the boy speak first, Anastasy".
With his head lowered, Constantine approached the microphone.
"I regard and perceive myself as the worst miasma that has ever existed in mankind. I furthermore know that you all confront me as a miasma of society, on account of my prior sinful activity. You are absolutely right to do so. That is how I deserve to be confronted by you, because with the life I led, I not only harmed myself, but also those near me - that means you all - but also all those that I caught in the meshes of iniquity. So, I am taking the opportunity that mister Anastasy is giving me, to ask each one of you personally to forgive me. I don't even deserve your forgiveness, because I have harmed you more than you could ever imagine. I harmed our town, our district, our neighborhood. I harmed friends and acquaintances of mine, and parents and relatives, because with my lifestyle, I had brought the mire of debauchery into your everyday lives.
This downhill slide that I had taken was ended once and for all by Crazy John. The prayers of that fool released me from the clutches, not only of one demon, but of an entire legion that had lodged inside me.
I was a transvestite for almost ten years. I believed at the time that happiness could be found in the ephemeral pleasure that bodily contact can arouse. I dressed provocatively; I used to be furious with people. I confronted life as though it were a vessel for pleasures, which I had to make sure I filled, on a daily basis. I experienced the mire of Hell, more than a human mind could ever imagine. That is why I used to regularly change my place of residence, since society had rightly perceived me as an outcast. And that was essentially what I was. I believed that quarrels, insults and disappointments were the best kind of defence, in my literally vehement obsession to pursue something that deviated from what was socially correct - from the ideals and the values of the Gospel. At the time, I had looked upon my illness as a human right, and was under the illusion that it was an outright normal thing - a thing that nowadays, even top-level leaders tend to advertise as a mere supposed "otherness".
So, there wasn't a single police station in Athens that didn't know me. There wasn't a single courtroom where I hadn't been a "customer" - either as an accused, for having offended virtuous behaviour, or as a witness for the defence or for the prosecution, in various, related cases. I was under the illusion that with my overall immoral activity, I was serving a silent revolution in favour of the acceptance of homosexuality. Hunted as I was, I arrived at your neighborhood too, and presented myself to the kindly, poor old lady Chrysoula, to ask her to let her one-room apartment to me. That is where I saw Crazy John for the very first time; he had brought over some bread to the almost destitute old woman.
Unlike most other tenants, I wasn't asked too many things by old Chrysoula. She just mentioned that the 30.000 drachmas she was asking for was the only income she would have, to make ends meet; so she asked me to not delay my payments because she had to pay for the bills, the building maintenance, as well as to buy her other basic needs.
"Oh, my dear child Constantine, God must have sent you! The apartment hasn't been rented out for three months and I am living off the help I get from misterApostolis the baker and mister Pantelis the grocer here, who send me bread and provisions with this fool here", she said, pointing to Crazy John.
"But I never sent you any bread Chrysoula, as I wasn't aware of your situation" Apostolis spontaneously remarked.
"Nor have I ever sent you any provisions", Pantelis added.
"But that's what Crazy John told me!!" old Chrysoula replied, totally at a loss...
After this small and "endearing" intervention, Constantine continued:
"Crazy John always used to conceal his good deeds... He may have brought you food, my dear Chrysoula, but to me, he brought God".
Constantine's eyes became misty, and tears began to fall. Everyone was now becoming tearful, along with him. He took a deep breath and continued:
"Three days later, I moved into the apartment. Crazy John had helped me carry all my things. And when the transporter purposely dropped an innuendo because of my behaviour and the manner that I spoke, Crazy John stunned him, by pointing out to him that, as a person who systematically lived adulterously and behaved brutally towards his own two children, he had no right to make such remarks about me. The transporter was shocked by these revealing words, and he immediately stopped his sarcasm. I of course was under the impression that the two of them were acquainted, but was taken aback when the transporter turned towards Crazy John as he was leaving, and said:
"What are you anyway? Some kind of charmed one?"
"Yes George, I have been 'charmed' - by our Christ's love", the fool replied.
He even asked the transporter to stop sorrowing Christ, because, in spite of his overall behaviour, Christ had healed his daughter Theodora from a very serious ailment. George then departed, with his head lowered..... He is the gentleman who is sitting over there with his wife, and he can confirm the incident I just described. I was impressed by that dialogue, but at the time I had dismissed it as the ravings of a fool.
So, on the evening of that same day, I dressed up in women's clothes as I normally did, and I went to a familiar transvestite haunt, on the main highway. You can imagine my surprise, when I spotted Crazy John watching me from the opposite corner of the block. The thought crossed my mind that he was seeking erotic companionship. But then, how did he find me?... The fool must have followed me (I thought to myself), and now he would go and tell what he saw to old Chrysoula... Oh well, I guess I will be searching for accommodation again... As all these thoughts were running through my mind, a prospective "customer" stopped in front of me. Just then, like a coiled spring, the fool jumped up and started to yell from across the road:
"He's got AIDS!! He's sick and he will pass it on to you!! Go away!! Go away!!"
I was taken by surprise by the erratic behaviour of a man whom I hardly knew. Naturally the prospective customer left. Then I started to curse Crazy John... I became hysterical...This went on for almost a month. Until this day, I will never know how he managed to discover those illicit haunts. One evening I actually beat him, and in fact quite severely.
But just imagine my surprise, when, every night after I got home, I would find an envelope containing almost double the money that I used to earn from my filthy activities, and on it would be written: "A blessing, for the servant of God, Constantine". I didn't know what to make of all those weird things I was witnessing. In the afternoons, I would go for a walk and whenever I'd see Crazy John, I would get angry. But he would say
"My dear Constantine, stop sorrowing Christ and our Holy Mother, Who are mourning incessantly for you".
I had even contemplated leaving the apartment, but something was holding me there. The other transvestites would ask me:
"Hey, could he by chance be in love with you, which is why he's acting so weird?"
"No", I'd reply, "he doesn't have any such intentions."
To make a long story short, I decided to invite Crazy John to my place, to put an end to all these things. I was hoping that someone had been putting him up to it purposely, just to drive me insane. Crazy John responded to my invitation affirmatively, despite having been humiliated by me so many times. I don't know what came over me that evening, but I cleaned the house, cooked something light, and sat down to do some reading. I was leafing through a magazine with assorted material, and an article caught my attention, about a certain Elder Porphyry who served in the chapel of a hospital in central Omonia square of Athens.
I hadn't finished reading the article, when I heard Crazy John knocking on my door. As soon as I opened the door, he said:
"Be blessed, my Constantine, in the present aeon and in the one to come".
It was the first time that I had ever heard such a greeting, but it was also the first time that I had ever heard a demonic voice speaking from inside me:
"Have you come to my house here as well, you crazy old man, to drive me out? I'm not alone here - I have 365 other friends! I don't intend to go away! You'd better be the one to leave, otherwise I'll kill you!" Crazy John then pulled out a Crucifix from his coat and raised it in front of me, and began to say:
"In the name of the Holy and Homoousion Trinity...." but I didn't hear anything after that, because I lost consciousness...
When I recovered, I saw the old fool standing there, smiling at me. I felt really happy that he was there, but didn't know the reason I felt that way.
"I brought you a gift, my Constantine. It is the Book of Psalms - a book that was written by the king and Prophet, David."
"What's going on? What happened?" I asked.
"My Constantine, you have received an enormous blessing. Christ has chosen you. He is preparing you for very important feats. However, you must be prepared to put up a serious fight, because what you have inside you is not about to leave very easily."
If you could only have seen the way that Crazy John's face glowed, you would have understood why I was so terrified. I had always thought that all the talk about demons was sheer fiction. I believed that they were just an invention thought up by priests and religion, intended to scare people and to extract easy money from them, so that they would enjoy their own lives, get rich, etc.. And yet, there I was, a living witness of their insidious activity against humans. Crazy John became a brother and a friend from that day on. That very same night, I gathered all the women's clothes and shoes and cosmetics that I had, and threw them into the garbage can. The next day, I changed my phone number. With the help of that fool, I even secured a job in the Accounts department of a large company. The owner of the company was a friend of Crazy John; he actually hired me with a satisfactory salary. At the same time, I would go with Crazy John - on an almost daily basis - to a church high up on Hymettus Mountain, where the priest would read the benedictions of Saint Basil (exorcisms) over me, while Crazy John would read Psalms. I cannot describe what I went through. What I can now shout out, thanks to this experience, is that homosexuality (and prostitution in general) is not an "otherness" or an illness; it is a formidable demon, which infuriates the Almighty. What I also want to tell you, is that our holy Church possesses the weapons that are able to exterminate all those things that our modern society nowadays believes (as I used to believe) to be "nonsense".
The prayers of our neighborhood fool saved me. My acquaintance with him changed my entire life. What I experienced over these last few years in this blessed neighborhood constitute a true miracle of the Triadic and only true God. I escaped from the clutches of a true Hell, and I am now living in a world that I had never lived - not even in my wildest dreams.
With the constant support of this saintly man - who was anything but a fool - I came to understand my mistake; I realized various things and situations that comprise the foundations of our society; I became familiar with the love of Christ. I had been functioning like one who is addicted to a toxic substance; I couldn't be told apart from a drug addict; I was living in a nightmare, which that wonderful saint of God - Crazy John - put an end to.
But I don't want to tire you any further with my story. After all, I am only recording my entire story in detail, as old Anastasy asked me to. I also apologize to you all, and to the innumerable victims that I had lured into the meshes of the iniquity that I was trapped in. I apologize to my beloved Katerina, who has opened her embrace to the most sinful person in the universe; who shut her ears to all the unfavorable comments and the justified criticism, and has accepted my marriage proposal to her. She has accepted to live with a zero, with an outcast, a moron. This holy man, Crazy John, had invested in this marriage with his prayers and his tears.
Constantine's last words were lost in his sobs. Also crying with him was Father Vassily, who had run up to hug him, as did all the other churchgoers.
"Father Vassily, I'm thinking of moving out of the neighborhood - not for me, but for Katerina", Constantine murmured falteringly, with difficulty.
Father Vassily then spoke up, and said:
"Dear brethren, Constantine has just expressed the desire to leave our neighborhood. What do you say? Are we going to leave the living testimony of a miracle by our departed brother John - Constantine - but also our own Katerina, to leave?"
"No! No!" they all shouted.....