Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Orthodox friendship

As the car was still in the garage being repaired, I had to take the bus into town and walk to St Germans for the 10.00 Mass. No school class there this week, so it was a quiet affair for the regulars in the Lady Chapel. After chatting in the day centre for a while, I caught the 45 bus from Newport Road back into town and was pleased to find it stopped outside the Westgate Hotel. Then I only had to cross the road wait a few minutes to board a 61 bus, to go home leave my bag, then get back on another bus into town to take me to St John's, where I'd arranged to meet for lunch with Dr Laura Ciobanu, making her annual visit to Cardiff from Bucharest, as she has done every year since we first met at St John's on Good Friday eleven years ago.

We discovered that a Eucharist was just about to start so we joined the congregation, all old friends from times past who greeted us warmly. Sarah invited me to join her at the alter to administer the chalice at Communion. Standing there in prayer with her, it was as if time had stood still, even though it's now six years last week since my farewell service at the same altar. St John's is still the place I feel I come home to in Cardiff and the place I go away from, on locum assignments near and far away. Not that I feel I define myself as being the ex-Vicar of St John's City Parish Church Cardiff, but rather that it represents the kind of open hearted catholic Anglican missionary spirit that runs in my blood.

We ate and chatted in the tea room for a two hours after the service. Laura brought me seven intricately decorated Easter eggs as a gift from home. She told me that her kindergarten teacher, now in her late eighties decorates these in the intricate traditional patterns of the region where she still lives in North West Romania, and set her a large batch to share, so I am blessed and delighted. This is Easter week in the Romanian Orthodox church so I enjoyed greeting her with Cristos inviat! Adevarat inviat!

When we parted company, I went to the office for a while before heading home. Father Mark emailed and asked if I'd like to celebrate the Ascension Day Eucharist at the other St John's (Canton), to which I readily agreed, as the St German's evening Eucharist is going to be covered by another priest, due to a mix up over my availability dates. It's getting a bit confusing now, as we're here for a while, then not here, then back again. I have to keep a close eye on the diary - I'm nowadays far more reliant on my digital Google calendar and its notifications on my phones than I ever was on a paper diary. It's a good thing really, as I'm less likely to miss appointments than I used to be.


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