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Lions Roar : November 2008
SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2008 85 THE SUN WAS WARM through the windshield. He drove fast and recklessly. He took curves on the wrong side of the road, passed in no-passing zones, pushed the little Fiat to its limits. He pointed to a roadside shrine. “Many people crash and die here.” Aristotle Dimas was concerned about the state of my soul. And with that in mind he had offered to drive me two hours north of Athens to meet his spiritual father and confessor, Papa Chris- tos, a charismatic village priest, an ecstatic healer and prophesier who spoke in tongues. It was almost half past twelve, with the first shadows stretching silent and the water violet in that light. A brilliant, end-of-Decem- ber afternoon. The sky was translucent. Pure azure. Tissue thin air. In Konstantinos we stopped for a snack at a taverna fronting the Aegean—the slow sea lolling, so calm, tepid, and flat it seemed barely alive, silent as a mime lapping the shore. The fried-cheese pies we ate, oily and heavy as lead, the Greek coffee we drank, two rounds of doubles, the cigars we smoked, black Backwoods aro- matics, left me ready to meet God and all his minions. Dark trees lined the road leading into Platistomo, a long cor- ridor. And slowly the light changed. Above and behind us, as seen through the eyes and mind of a dreamer, reclining beneath the sky, snow-covered Parnassos, like the body of a woman—white shoulders, white breasts, white hips, white thighs. The village was empty and still except for the chickens in the yards, a barking dog, and the sweet smell of composted manure. The café on the square, where we were to meet Papa Christos, was nameless. Its glass door and windows faced the church; the lovely old almond tree that spread its branches over a bench and the war memorial; a brass plaque engraved with the names of local boys lost to last century’s various wars and revolu- tions. Not many. Platistomo was, after all, a very small place. The door of the café was warped and scraped against the floor, so that you had to push hard both to open and close it with a great screech. The floor was worn. The ceiling very high. The tables and chairs, haphazardly placed, were all different, an odd mix of styles and colors. There was a dusty case displaying the candy and sodas for sale, cigarettes. The afternoon sun poured PAINTINGBYMATHIASGRUENEWALD.PHOTOBYERICHLESSING/ARTRESOURCE,NY Papa Christos A village priest/shaman enters into spiritual battle with the demons who haunt the soul of Zen cynic George Crane. NOV 84-105.indd 85 NOV 84-105.indd 85 9/1/08 12:24:34 PM 9/1/08 12:24:34 PM