Lockdown in Lia: Larger than Life Days in Our Tiny Village

After a whirlwind three weeks of weddings (my cousin’s on the Peloponnesian coast), ruins (the Byzantine city of Butrint in what is now Albania), and beaches (too numerous to mention), I thought we’d end our annual trip to Greece with a few relaxing days in Lia, the quiet village where my father was born, which […]

See No Evil: Easter, Facebook, and Where the Bodies Are Buried

This past weekend was Orthodox Easter, which Amalia, my husband, and I spent with my parents in Worcester, Massachusetts. Amalia’s arrival was greeted with delight by her grandparents/rabid fans. But somewhere amid the flurry of preparations for the holiest day in the Orthodox calendar, we learned that there was another visitor in Worcester, one who […]

All My Found Saints

When it comes to cultural events and spiritual uplift, I love church and I love dancing. But you just don’t often get to do the two together. Except in Diriamba, Nicaragua, where I just attended the Reese’s Peanut Butter cup of community events, the last day of the festival for the patron saint of Diriamba […]

VirginMaryPalooza—Nine Crazy Nights!

Last week I went around the corner to buy baby wipes and saw Jesus Christ coming down the street. I didn’t get the baby wipes—you can’t buy those on the street corner pharmacies or in the corner stores, which are called pulperias here in Granada, Nicaragua. You have to go to the big American-style supermarket […]

Have Faith, Will Travel

Five minutes before we took over the microphone from the DJ at my daughter’s baptismal reception, we notified her godfather that we expected him to say a few words. He had flown in from Nicaragua, where my husband’s family lives, for the occasion, and in all the preparation we had somehow forgotten to warn him […]

The Circle Dance: The Sacred and the Mundane

“Life is a circle,” my cousin said. Or maybe it was “life is a cycle”—you could translate the Greek word either way. We were talking about my daughter’s baptism, which took place on Sunday in Worcester, Massachusetts, where I grew up. My cousin came from the island of Corfu, Greece, to act as Amalía’s godmother, […]

Amalía Has Two Easters

A few weeks ago my mother, Joanie, called me up all atwitter, as she often does after reading not one but two newspapers first thing in the morning. (Bless her heart, she is singlehandedly keeping the physical, print version of the newspaper alive.) “Guess what!” she chirped. “The newspaper says that according to the census, […]

Spiritual Spring Break

It’s that time of year again–empty beer bottles are sprouting in my garden like so many crocuses, flocks of young chicks in bikini tops and belly rings keep swooping into my neighborhood Starbucks, and, if the boys who have rented the apartment across the courtyard are any indication, young men’s fancy is turning to lust. […]

Diving for Blessings

I love Miami Beach, but I yearn for New York. Let’s keep in mind that my people invented nostalgia. (The word comes from the ancient Greek nostos (homecoming) and algia (pain, think neuralgia or fibromyalgia). Given the etymology, nostalgia is a pain for coming home, or a longing for home. But I think it’s less […]

My Lost Saints

Today is Saint Anna’s day. You may know her as Jesus’s grandma, as Anna and Joachim were the parents of Mary. Anna is not a flashy saint. She’s no Mary Magdalene (hubba hubba!) or John the Baptist. But for people named Anna, she’s a patron saint. And there may be others who choose her as their […]