13 years ago today I married my Knight in Shining Armor. He literally was my savior. Of course not the kind that saves me from eternal damnation but the kind that sweeps you off your feet and takes you to a castle. Ok, there is no castle but we have lived a fairy tale. Just like all fairy tales there have been monsters, villains, dire escapes from the evil wizard but most importantly there have been many, many, happy endings.
John and I have eaten at the same restaurant every anniversary since we’ve moved here to New York. That particular restaurant is not open Mondays which is our actual anniversary so we decided to celebrate our anniversary this past Saturday. Saturday was also the day we had a youth retreat schedule with our sister church St. George in New Jersey.
The theme of the retreat was miracles. Not sure if any of you reading have ever experienced a miracle but I have. Do you believe in miracles? Well, our very existence is a miracle when you think of it. The fact that we believe that a man hung on a cross, was crucified, died and buried but three days later rose from the dead, is also a miracle. The notion that we believe that a virgin gave birth to a child is also a miracle.
Which leads me back to Saturday. It is difficult to put into words what we experienced at the retreat that day but I will try.
“When you desire and expect to be united to God, when you coerce God, He doesn’t come. Rather, He comes ‘on a day when you do not expect and at an hour you do not know.’ The manner is most holy, not something you can learn as a technique. It needs to enter your soul mystically, so that you take it into your heart through the grace of God.” + Saint Porphyrios,”
Father Mark of St. George Pennsylvania was our guest and what he brought to us was a miracle; a streaming icon. I’m sure you’ve heard stories from around the world of weeping icons (you can read one here). Well, Saturday we were blessed to not only see, but smell, and feel the oil that dripped off of an icon of the Holy Mother and Child.
The smell was like roses. Even that doesn’t do justice the amazing fragrance that radiated from the icon itself. We heard stories from Father Mark about healings both physical and emotional that have come about after encountering the icon. I was in tears. I wish I had more time and space to share all of the miraculous healing that were shared with us that day. It was truly moving to hear of Gods mercy to his people.
We did a Paraklesis (prayer service) in honor of the Theotokos and sang Rejoice O unwed-ed Bride.
Father held the icon as we made a single file line to receive the oil that poured from every where and nowhere. As I stood in line my heart began to race and tears filled my eyes. It was as though I was meeting my long lost love. I felt humbled to be in their presence. With both hands outstretched the oil fell. It landed on my left hand on my wedding rings.
Some may say that it was a coincidence or just chance that the day we were celebrating our marriage that the oil feel on my wedding rings. I know differently. I felt the meaning, the miracle that was being given to me. Grace, mercy, and Gods blessing. You see, marriage in the Eastern Orthodox church is a sacrament, a holy mystery. John and I have committed not only to our union with each other but we agree to Gods presence in our union as well.
I’m not the kind of person who goes around looking for signs. I am the kind of person who knows that God hears the heart and hears it loudly. I am a person of faith. I thank God for the blessing of being with the streaming icon this weekend. All people leave differently after being with her. I am definitely changed.
Happy 13th wedding anniversary to my favorite guy. You are my love, my life. I thank God for you.