CENTENNIAL POEM FOR Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Buffalo NY
At dawn in dismal despair,
the humble, but brave children of Argos and Tripoli and Volos,
men wearing their Sunday best,
these offspring of the Argonauts and Emperors
stand at the quay waving farewell
to their ones so fair,
their loves: sisters and mothers and daughters
and the maidens shyly made promises to.
Others already betrothed, shyly kissed their wives making promises promises…soon.
Promising them news, very very soon.
Some to their sons and fathers and grandparents, they could not hold back the tears
Sobbing as they mourn the loss of their sons,
this time to the New World,
to a strange but hopeful new land far away.
Remember us! Remember the Motherland!
They’d heard of the magic there, the prospects,
the chance for peace and decency,
then perhaps the return to the home and hearth.
Those words haunted them and filled them with yearning.
Those who survived the passage saw the Iron Lady near the harbor
then grasped that their journey was just beginning.
Bofalo Nea Iorki was one destination among many.
Vibrant throbbing industrial city, a place where work was to be had
and money was to be made…
if one could endure the howls of winter winds
and the loneliness of being a “xenos” – a stranger – among so many other strangers.
So there the newly arrived would gather in cold and musty rooms
mostly men, strangers to each other and on their own,
their families left behind to mourn their absence and to dream of ways to meet again.
The “briki” would conjure up the smells of home and the “komboloi” spurred talk of how to bring the family to the land of the iron lady.
For most those warm and loving families would be lost in the mists of passing years:
They would never smell the aroma of bread baking in the village squares of flowers on the meadows in spring of the peaking of bells at Easter and the fragrance of lamb roasting in the fields after the resurrection,
They would never hear the shouts of the urchins playing in the streets, the murmur of widows reciting their prayers and the giggles of youth excitedly waiting for news.
But the “Theotokos” sheltered within their hearts.
The Eternal Mother knew the pain of separation,
and that it was temporary, but so excruciating.
By Her Son’s grace She would bring some peace and contentment
as the xenoi laid out the design of new lives.
Not all survived, lost to their loved ones on Earth.
But some lasted, blasted through the awful winters here,
blistered by snow and cold and an infernal loneliness…
Unheard of in the valleys and mountains of Arcadia and Kynouria and Laconia
In the islands of the eternal Aegean and Ionian,
In the ports along the coasts, and the plains of Thessaly and Anatolia, the cliffs of Epirus:
Where summer breezes brought the gentle prospect of new life,
carefree summers in the villages full of buzzing talk and tenderness
of the fields reaping and sowing seeds or grain and pruning olive trees, then
collecting their fruit to make the life maintaining oil.
But in the New World where was that warmth to be found?
Not in the blast furnaces of the steel works;
Or the hellish kitchens of cookhouses;
Or in the streets and alleys where Alberta clipper winds tossed men and pushcarts like mindless fiends.
Those men hauling and penny pinching on the city streets.
No – here was labor and tending, little caring;
here were wages and earnings, not sharing.
Where could they gather and share the warmth of the motherland?
Yes, a Church is born,
the Church built stone by stone and penny by penny.
See them proudly standing in front of the finished House of the Lord’s people
an Ark to sustain life in this new world
reminding them of their humanity, their eternity their families, their hopes.
1912: Annunciation Church has risen on Oak
with Her all the hopes and dreams
of the survivors in the field of dreams;
The candles glowed that first Easter in “Ameriki”;
The Lord’s House welcomed them all through her wide portals and expansive terrace.
Now that melancholy joy has subsided… and we are One Hundred years of assembly of courage, hope of love and of sorrows;
One hundred years of memories, plans, dignity and support.
We absorb the myrrh that our Church disperses as we gather our flocks to shield them from Evils surrounding us.
Our Ekklisia calls, protects, and nurtures us.
Her Light infuses us with eternal hope and love – that Light that bears witness to misery and monstrousness while piercing through it,
enveloping us in hope and love.
Our Theotokos who accepted the Announcement of Truth,
our founders who accepted the challenge of the new,
setting down new roots so that their descendants
would faithfully and energetically uphold and defend that challenge.
Only success is our reward, and our Faith determines that success.
Home is where The Church of the Annunciation grows and embraces everyone with eternal love.
-To the memories of Emanuel and Fallia Mihopoulos Phufas