Monday, May 18, 2015

An Academic Theologian Learns Her Lesson

One morning, a lady, who was quite irate got into my taxi. She was mumbling to herself and cursing the previous taxi driver who forced her out of the vehicle. The poor thing was literally trembling, and in her confusion she even forgot to say good morning.

I asked her, “What’s the matter mam?”

“What’s the matter? I just took a cab from Delphi and asked the driver to take me to the AHEPA Hospital. After I sat down, we hardly traveled a block down the road when he suddenly stopped and told me, “I cannot take you; get out and take another taxi.” When I asked him for an explanation, he gave me a thousand excuses.

“Please” I said, “it is hard to find a taxi at this time, and it is very urgent. I have my mother sick at the AHEPA.” “No,” he told me. “I cannot take you. I have my reasons.”

“We argued for a while, and then he forced me to get out, so here I am? He did all he could to stress me out first thing in the morning, but I am not done with him yet! I recorded his license number and he will see me in court. When my attorney is done with him, I promise you that he will never forget me as long as he lives.

“Do whatever God enlightens you to do. After a few minutes and when she seemed to calm down a bit I said, “Now if you don’t mind I would like to take a moment of your time to offer you my humble opinion and I promise to be brief”.

“I will listen to you, as long as you don’t try to justify him.”

“No. But please hear me out, I think it is worth the trouble.”

“I’m still very upset, but I will listen to you."

“One thing I try to do every morning before I venture out in my field of work is that I kneel and ask God to grant me the virtue of patience and forbearance. This is necessary for everyone of course, but especially for cab drivers, since we have to deal with so with so many different types of people. So, in the morning at the start of my day’s work, the first customer who enters the cab typically, makes my life unbearable. He begins grumbling, treating me unjustly, accusing me and insulting me for no reason at all. Instinctively, I soon find myself becoming angry, enraged, and ready to explode. At that very moment however, I hear Christ mystically telling me, “Hey, Thanasi, why are you so upset? Didn’t you ask me this morning to grant you forbearance? So here, I allowed this customer to enter into your taxi to serve as your spiritual mirror. Thanks to him you have a full diagnosis of your inner state, and the type of serpents that reside there, my Thanasi. These creepy things [passions] don’t go away with sweet talk and praises, but by patiently enduring hardships, afflictions and insults.

Based on this, the miserable customer who entered my taxi this morning became my best benefactor. Without realizing it, he did the greatest service to me. He brought my old evil and deeply rooted passions to the surface. For this reason, I must not forget to sincerely thank God during my evening prayer and tell him, “My God, I thank you for this man because without meaning to, he acted as a spiritual mirror to help me see the filth that harbors inside me.

It would be nice if you and I could go the nearest grocery store and order ten pounds of love, fifteen pounds of humility, and forty pounds of patience. Unfortunately, these virtues are not available at stores or on Amazon or e-bay. If they were, I would be the first one to purchase them. All these virtues are fruits of the Holy Spirit. They are gained through experiential knowledge; the more a person humbles himself, the more he or she draws the grace of God. All of us are eager for our prayers to be heard by God, when it comes to the healing and well- being of our relatives. However, we usually forget to pray for the well being of our enemies. How can our prayer ascend to heaven when it is lacking the wings of forgiveness and love?” Suddenly, my friends, I heard a noise in the back seat. The lady had just ripped up the paper with the number of my fellow taxi driver. With lips trembling with emotion and tears on her cheeks she asked me, “Do you know what the strange thing is, Mr. Thanasi?


“I am a teacher of theology.”

Throughout my career, I have given thousands of hours of religious lessons, but today, I received the most beautiful lesson ever. This is a lesson that I have never given to my students.[1] What a shame! Thank you.”

“Not me, thank God my dear, but, now that we have arrived, I want to ask you for a small favor.”

“Whatever you want, Mr. Thanasi, whatever you want.”

“Before you go to see your mother, as you enter the hospital, at your left hand you will find the hospital chapel.”

“Yes, I know it, I go frequently.”

“Go, and please light a little candle, not for me, nor for your mother, but for the taxi driver who kicked you out. He was the reason we met today. Furthermore, this is what we should do as Orthodox Christians and no one knows this better than you theologians.” With eyes wet with emotion and a trembling voice she told me, “I will do it, Mr. Thanasi. I promise you that I will do it. I thank you from the bottom of my heart because today turned out to be one of the most beautiful days of my life.” She closed the door and left for the hospital. I also rejoiced because she seemed to be quite comforted. “Do you see, my friends, how beautiful life can be? Whenever people mistreat us, instead of taking them to an attorney, let us take them to Christ!

Translator Father N.P.

Editor CZ

Assistant Editor AK

[1] In the country of Greece, Christian education is part of the public school curriculum up to the High School level, taught by lay academic theologians and occasionally by priests.
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