By Elena Gogou
Situated near the ancient town of Philippi, by the port of Kavala in Northern Greece, is the Shrine of St. Lydia. It is a beautiful place, amidst corn and sunflower fields, at the foot of a hill, with a gurgling stream running through it. St. Lydia is said to be the first European to be baptized by St. Paul, and she is said to have baptized a good many locals herself in the tiny river.
Driving home in the early afternoon I stopped to savour the peace and beauty of the place. I often stop by when I am in need of spiritual grounding, to sit in the church or by the running stream, wash off my troubles and go on my way. This time there was a coach outside the gate, its driver sitting by, idly browsing his cell phone. I walked in and followed the path around the ruins. The trees had already began shedding their leaves, and the lawn was strewn with all the hues of yellow.
I heard singing, or rather, a group of people chanting. A lovely, somehow familiar sound, although I could not place its origin or exact identity. I thought there was a service being held in the church, but no. The music was coming from the stream. I went nearer. A group of happy Asians were sitting and standing by the water, singing and splashing about. It was an atmosphere of joyous devotion that is rarely seen these days. I wanted to record the scene, and took out my cell phone, but the group somehow dispersed. The magical moment had passed.
I walked down to the water, gazed at the fish and the floating yellow leaves, in quiet.
Coming out of the site, I noticed that the coach door was open. I asked the driver “where are these people from?” “Vietnam”, he said. “And they came all the way from Vietnam to Lydia?” I asked in amazement. “Indeed they did”, the Greek tour guide stepped in. “This is what mission does”.