Thursday, April 30, 2009

Cheese Straws Are Nasty*

* - Ian, in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding"

"Christos Anesti!" "Alithos Anesti!"

"Christos Voskrese!" "Voistinue Voskrese!"

"Al Masseh Qam!" "Haqqan Qam!"

Christ is risen and here in the heart of midwest USA, Orthodox Christians exclaim the news in lots of different languages from the other side of the world. If they are anything like me, at their first Pascha the newly enlightened hear the beginning of the greeting in these various languages and heartily reply, "blah, blah, blah!" or "grimfischku vukonki! or (my favorite, the response to the Arabic), "honk, honk, honk!"

Deep down inside this newbie was a little jealous at my first Pascha as an Orthodox Christian of those worshipping around me who "just knew" how to respond with gusto to the Paschal greeting regardless of the language in which it is proclaimed. It felt a little at the time like a series of spy passwords - and you are only "in" if you know the secret password and response. "The eagle lands at midnight ..." You know what I mean.

How does everyone else seem to "just know" this stuff, I wondered. Someone had to tell them once upon a time - why wasn't I told, too?

And while there was the part of me that wanted to be "in" and know that stuff, too, another part of me was sort of frustrated about it. Why, I wondered, here in the middle of Minnesota USA, are Christians exchanging the paschal greeting in Slavonic? Or in Arabic or Greek? Is there anyone here who does not understand English? And are there not many of us here who don't speak or understand any of these other languages? What is the value of this practice here and now?

But as I have considered this a bit, and my initial reactions to this custom, I think maybe there's something to be learned from Ian (from the movie). "Cheese straws are nasty!" (well it sounds like Christos Anesti!) he said - not to make fun of the ethnic religious traditions of the one he loved - but as an act of love for her, as a way to try to enter into her life and her world, to participate in her history and traditions, and to become a part of her family.

Perhaps Ian has helped to answer my questions.

1 comment:

Mimi said...

I love that movie!