One’s Endurance: a Grateful Immigrant’s Story

Sometimes the “A HA!” moment comes in a quote:

”  Let yourself silently be drawn by the strange pull of what you really love.  It will not lead you astray.” _Rumi

I’ll tell you how the sun rose, —
A ribbon at a time.
The steeples swam in amethyst,
The news like squirrels ran.
The hills untied their bonnets,
The bobolinks begun.
Then I said softly to myself,
“That must have been the sun!” _Emily Dickenson

One’s endurance is measured by the breadths taken day and night to survive rejection.  It is inexplicable to the unbeliever because the life of faith delivers an ever restoring, flowing Holy Spirit.  Without it, I could not have arrived at this moment in time.

I can count my encouragers.  Who are yours?

In this abundantly planted orchard of life, the fruits ripen to be chosen rather than discarded.  In today’s bowl, endurance is at the center; it has an old flavor recognizable for its ancient characteristics.  Its value is as long as the beginning of each day is observed.  It is delightful to the soul, gentle in texture and borders  on honey for sweetness.

I remember the aches clinging to my joints as I gathered a handful of acrylic paints, three preferred brushes, and a trusty folded stool to take along to the gate waiting as a blank canvas on a palette ready to receive the very Spirit in me.  It is in this laboriously searching to create a vessel to renew the luster of words written to welcome each soul that I found respite, consolation, and determination to honor a church whose people chose to invite my father to be their priest.painted in the far away right side…I wish I had taken a close up.  There is a squirrel with a bushy tail in the lower left and two bobolinks in the tree, North American migratory blackbirds.

I used my father’s magnifying glass to see “the onion” church so dubbed because of the shape of its steeple.  It is barely visible.  It is painted in the far away right side…I wish I had taken a close up shot.  There is a squirrel with a bushy tail in the lower left and two bobolinks in the tree, North American migratory blackbirds.  Go figure.

The parishioners of St. Elias Romanian Orthodox Church of Ellwood City, Pennsylvania, extended the sponsorship needed for my father, my mother, and me to come to the United States of America.  My father had traveled from Argentina to officiate a service in hopes he would be chosen to serve.  I don’t know that there were many or any candidates.  He returned to tell my mother and me about the incredible journey in the land of the free.  He brought us small boxes of cereals, and told us about the highways and the fantastic Greyhound buses.  After a few months, we received an offer for the vacant post with the stipulation he learn to speak English as soon as possible.

I did not question the impending move.  We had traveled on the Highland Monarch Ocean Liner from Brazil, to Montevideo, Uruguay, and finally Buenos Aires, Argentina, four years prior.  It was an enormous ship.  One day there was no land to be seen.  We slept in the belly part where the engines roared but I can best recall the same moon accompanying us in the sky dotted fully with blooming stars.  We saw the same splendor of unique formations from Sao Paulo, Niteroi, Mato Grosso, Minas Gerais,  Araruama, and Rio de Janeiro.  To see it like that is phenomenal.

My parents’ endurance from having fled their country in their twenties then detained to be placed in the concentration camp of Buchenwald and be freed when the war ended in 1945, but only to accept being sent to South America, left them no choice but to take the ship to Brazil in hopes to someday come to America.  Europe was a mess.  Romania was behind the Iron Curtain.

In 1963 I was fourteen years old.  My parents were fifty and forty-eight.  We came on the Fourth of July, and on November twenty-second, President John F. Kennedy was shot.  In a classroom at Lincoln High School, an announcement was made, and understood thanks to my first English teacher.  Nonetheless, it was Mr. Jerome Jinar, the art teacher of Romanian descent who came to the door, found me in a row of silent students, and whispered in Romanian the news and instructions.   I am still grateful for the thoughtfulness to let me know immediately so I would not be frightened or confused.  We were told to remain quiet.  Our President had died.  Everyone was to go to the lockers without speaking a word and then head to the busses to go home.  All I heard were shoes, sneakers, opening and closing of locker doors.  Everybody listened.  I did not hear a whisper.  It was as if we needed not to be heard to be safe of some unknown lingering danger.

I walked home because it was that close, next to the church, and its doors were wide open.  My mother was kneeling in the first pew, and my father was facing the altar.  In Brazil a room in our house was the church.  In Argentina the St.Nicholas church had not been completed.  Images of both came back to mind, and this small church to me was a Cathedral.  I cried because my parents wept.  Once alone at home with them, the fear once again was communism.How do we thank the kindest hard working Romanians who came to this country and worked in the factories or in any profession or job they could fulfill to provide for their families, friends, and community the American dream?  What was the ancient church’s tie to this nation’s culture?  In my experience, it was the love of our Lord, life, family, and neighbors.  As much as they wished to preserve a bit of the language, a lot of the foods, and the music that cuddled their souls, every parishioner respected and honored America.  They still do.

This group portrayed in photos are a few I found as treasures from my parents’ albums.  They simply reflect the orderliness accomplished by the sweat of their brows, the disciplined joy of belonging to a church revering God in the fashion of the ancient, and they gratefully respected their United States of America.  This is the fabric of the melting pot that honors the boundaries of God, country, and freedom.

Top photo, in front of my father, Pepito Anghiouiu, a beloved altar boy.
Bottom photo, second from the top row my dearest first English teacher, Mary Neghiu Rugh

Today feels like my parents’ endurance is relived by all who are bashed for holding on to religion, a divine association of believers in a Creator, our God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.  I am compelled to shed light in a room in my heart.  The discomfort of rejection nurtures endurance quietly by buckets full of tears.  It is a suffering endured because to know God is to find peace within our souls and in the company of others.

“Stand at the crossroads and look;

ask for the ancient paths,

ask where the good way is, and walk in it,

and you will find rest in your souls.” _Jeremiah 6:16

The blessing of endurance is to have been surrounded by the angelic deeds of all in this parish.  My parents and I were and will be forever grateful.

I pray for our nation and our President Mr. Donald Trump.

” When inward tenderness finds the secret hurt, pain itself will crack the rock and

ah!  let the soul emerge.” _Rumi

Your comments are always appreciated.  Thank you.

 

 


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