Three years ago, when my Mother and Father were visiting Ellis Island, my Mother noticed an Orthodox priest milling about along with the other tourists. She went to kiss his hand, when he pulled his hand away. My Mother was confused, since this is what we do in the Greek tradition, and he jovially explained that he was a priest of the Coptic Orthodox Church, and that she need not kiss his hand. As he had somehow placed his hand into his raso, his cassock, he pulled it out and placed something into her hand. It was a jet black cross, about seven-and-a-half inches long, made from braided leather strands that came together in circles to form the top and side bars of the cross. She entrusted it to me, and when I got back from Greece, I called the priest to thank him for his gift to us. He explained that it was hand-made by monks in Egypt and on each of the circles, a prayer is said, and one goes around the 11 edges of the cross thrice to make 33 times, the number of years that Christ was on earth. This, he explained, was like our Church's komboskini. I take it with me when I go on important trips
I've taken it with me to regattas, to college, and to Istanbul and back. I only have one slight problem: I don't actually know what the prayer cross is called
. I'll send a picture of it in this post in case I haven't adequately described it enough, but here's hoping that three years of wondering are about to come to an end. This generous priest and I talk all the time, in fact there have been times when I'm more comfortable telling him everything than my own parish priests, since I come from a large congregation and 1,100 souls can really weigh on them, and because this Father is an all-around amazing man. That being said, every time I make the call, it always slips my mind to ask him what his first gift was called. What can I say: I'm really scatterbrained
Also, as much as I'd like to say the priest's name, I don't know if that's allowed in the rules here over privacy issues. Hopefully I'm not overstepping any potential boundaries by saying that he hails from Egypt and currently serves the community of East Rutherford, New Jersey.