The Blessing

Setting: My bedroom, Sunday, mid-day. It’s toasty warm since the central heat was turned on the night before. My yoga mat is spread on the wooden floor. There may or may not be some dirty clothes piled about. The bed, however, is made.

State of Mind: Slightly hung-over. Too much beer the night before (thanks new PCV friends) not to mention this past week in general—at work, after work, with my host-family’s maid who pulled out a bottle of cognac to share when grandma and auntie went out somewhere, and even one morning at breakfast when I was a bit slow-witted, didn’t understand a question, and ended up with a glass of wine along with some very delicious fried eggs. There hasn’t been much alcohol around this past six weeks so either I’m becoming one with the family or the holidays have arrived.

Attire: Tight black yoga pants, black socks and a black t-shirt, hair pulled back.

Action: I’m sitting peacefully on my yoga mat about to attempt a long overdue meditation session followed by a dance-off with my dresser (my cardio work-out) when I hear chanting in the distance, maybe in the house. I ignore it at first but it grows louder. I stand up, cross to my door and pull it open. And lo, it’s an Orthodox priest with a long bushy beard and black robe flecked with gold embroidery. He’s swinging a metal incense holder in one hand and what looks like a wet paintbrush in the other. Behind him is grandma looking devout in black with a scarf draped over her hair and two small candles clutched between her palms.

She smiles at me and tells the priest that I’m American and can’t speak Georgian (I catch the two critical words necessary for this interpret). He eyes me suspiciously and I stand aside and wave them in. He circles the room chanting and flicking water against the gold papered walls, each with a small cross from a previous blessing, the sweet incense trailing behind him. I move out of the room to escape the flying water and wait. It takes only a few minutes and when the priest emerges he again glances at me standing off to the side. I nod piously and he flicks a stream of holy water across my face.

I open my mouth to scream and my demon claws to fresh air. It leaps for the priest, swinging awkwardly on his black beard before prying open his lips and climbing inside. Grandma flees. I shrug and say, “Thank god that’s out of me.” All that time spent on dragon acupuncture sessions with Barb when a splash of Georgian holy water was the answer. Who knew? I do feel for the priest but he should have known better than to release a demon in a house with closed windows.

Aside: The above paragraph is, of course, a joke, but not at the expense of anyone’s religion. That would be wrong, unless you worship Bob. The rest is 99% the truth, although I would like to clarify that my yoga mat is an abomination and completely useless for actual yoga and I’ve long since released my own demon.

The Explanation: I did sort out the why of all this a little later. It wasn’t that the priest sensed the demon attached to my spine (because it’s not there anymore, duh), or my Buddhist/agnostic/pagan spiritual leanings, or disliked my attire, or smelled the stale beer oozing from my pores. No, the reason was much simpler. The kids and their parents are finally moving into their house next door and the priest was probably brought in to bless the new home and maybe they asked for two blessings for the price of one and why not throw in the American woman too.

Another Aside: I’m going to miss the kids. It will now be just me and grandma and auntie roaming around this great big house most days and nights. Each with a floor of our own. But I know the kids are going to miss me (more properly defined as my internet connection) too so I’m sure they’ll come visit. And we do share a front yard. I might run into them there.

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