Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Happy Holidays

Second weekend in December, we took the Amtrak train down to Florida for the holidays in coach style. It was the auto train and the first time we tried it. I must say it was a very pleasant experience as compared to driving all the way down. We relaxed in the comfortable seats, and were able to read, nap, and walk around with no problem at all.

The staff were pleasant, the meal in the dining car was plentiful and aesthetically appealing (chicken, rice, vegetable plus cheesecake and coffee). The restrooms were easily accessible and everyone around us was quiet (except for an older man up ahead who snored through the night!).

The only glitch to this trip was in the middle of the night, when the train stopped suddenly somewhere in South Carolina. I woke up, smelling rubber burning and looked out the window into the pitch black night. I immediately sensed something was not right when we saw the red flashing of police cars. I asked one of the staff what had happened and they said that someone's car was on the track and the train tried stopping in time. It was a very sobering moment for all of us, for we heard that there were other people in the car with this person and they tried to get him out, but he stayed in it. He did it on purpose. I prayed very hard for that person's soul. One can not and should not solve life's problems, which tend to be temporary, with permanent solutions like death. It just doesn't work that way. It is a very selfish solution - for each person has many loved ones in their circle, and when they choose to leave, just think about the anguish, guilt, and terrible sadness that they leave behind. How inconsiderate and foolish!

God gave us a brain, to solve and cope with life's problems. It took several days for me to get over that dreadful, negative feeling this event evoked in me.

Once in Florida, I sensed a refreshing feeling. We drove to the Tampa Bay area to visit family under cloudy weather but the next day it was fair. I immediately noticed how nice the weather was after that. It tended to be in the 70s, sunny and breezy. Also, the days were longer than up north. Instead of the sun setting around 5 pm, it was setting closer to 6:00 pm! So longer days and more sunshine were very much appreciated.

We visited the Greek church in Tarpon Springs the day before Christmas. St. Nicholas is nestled in the heart of Tarpon Springs and is quite a beautiful and spiritual experience being inside this church. I felt protected and very much at peace while the liturgy took place. The incense in the air, the chanter droning in the background, and the steady movements of the priest's robed body lulled me into a meditative state of being. In front of us stood a little old lady in the pew. She looked pious and wore a little scarf. Suddenly I heard the ringing of a cell phone and to my surprise, she reached down into her purse, gave an exclamation, and turned it off. Even little, old Greek ladies have cell phones these days! I smiled at the scene.

Our Christmas was enjoyable as we spent it with family and friends. Remember, it is the spirit of Christ's birth that sustains our faith and not how many gifts we give or receive. The greatest gift of all is Christ himself.

May you have a blessed and safe New Year 2012! Chronia Polla kai Eutichismenos o Kainourios Chronos!!

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