Passing through the archaic gateway of the Holy Trinity Monastery in Crete, one is met with profound silence and reverence. An inscription at the entrance inscribed in ancient Greek reads “Let the love of Christ be the light in your life that guides you”
The power to forgive and love despite suffering is the most powerful manifestation of Christ’s commandment “You shall love your neighbour as yourself” which reflects ones love for God. Let me share a beautiful story of personified grace that manifests such words.
The famous German writer Erhart Kästner acknowledged the following:
“In 1952 I visited Athens for the first time after the war. In the German Embassy, when they heard that I intended to go to Crete, they suggested to me that I pretend to be a Swiss, because it had only been a short time since the German Occupation and the wounds were still unhealed. But I knew the Cretans. From the very first moment I said I was a German and not only did I have a good time, but wherever I went, I experienced the legendary Cretan hospitality.
An afternoon, at sunset, I visited the German Cemetery in Maleme. It seemed like it was empty; only the last sun rays fell on it. But I was wrong. There was a living creature there. It was a Cretan woman dressed in black. To my greatest surprise I saw her lighting candles to the graves of the German soldiers, who died during the battle of Crete, and she was going methodically from the one grave to the other. I approached her… and I asked her:
– “Do you come from here?”
– “’Yes…” she replied.
– “And why are you doing this? Those men killed so many Cretans during the war…!”
The woman replied:
– “Son, your accent proves you to be a foreigner, therefore you probably do not know what happened here from 1941 to 1944. My husband was killed in the battle of Crete and I was left alone with my only son. Germans took him as a hostage in 1943 and he died in a concentration camp (KZ) in Sachsenhauzen. I do not know where my son has been buried. But I know that each of these men was son of a mother like me. And I light candles to their memory, because their mothers cannot come down here. I am sure that another mother lights the candle in memory of my son.”
And the German finished surprised: “Only in Greece such an answer could have been given!”