Cakes, Strangers, and Friends

Baked TWO cakes

The people who unearthed the ruined church in Rhodes, Greece in 1500 must have been excited to piece together the life of Saint Phanourios. Imagine finding his icon and wondering, wondering, wondering why his was the only one not damaged. And then came the miracles. There must have been a lot of chatter and research and dinnertime conversation about him as his life as a soldier, then martyr, was reconstructed.

And I can imagine the first time someone baked a cake in honor of his mother. Saying prayers as they mixed, venturing out onto the cobbled roads with the cake in a basket, to find someone nearby who could use a little sustenance, then returning to the church to meditate and pray for a while longer. I’d love to visit Rhodes on August 27th. I wonder what other traditions still abound there. Here’s a link if you want to read more of his story and see a photo of the original icon.

So, in his honor, and it being a slow and easy Friday, yesterday we set to baking early. My friend and fellow author, Chrissi Hart, placed a link on her facebook page with a recipe just in time, so I mixed and measured and soon had a cake baking in the oven. But as the smells began to filter through the house, and as I explained St Phanourios’ story to my hungry daughter, we soon realized that today we’d have to bake two cakes: one to give, and one to share. (New recipes should always be tasted!)

As we drove downtown, we chatted about who to give the dense (and hopefully) delicious cake to. I’d wanted to give it to a homeless person–maybe the fellow I see often at Alice Keck Park. But Madeleine soon pointed out that that cake would be a burden to one man–it was dense, and a lot to lug around. Then, I thought of taking it to the center where my son volunteers, a place that provides preschool to homeless children. But… I remembered they don’t accept homemade goods from outsiders, but cook all the food for the children themselves…

So, since time was running out, I was excited when I spotted a family having a picnic at Kid’s World. There were six of them, and they were munching on sandwiches and soda. Perfect. I towed my kids alongside for moral support and ahemed as I walked up to the picnic table, “I’m sorry to bother you. I know you have no idea who I am, or whether you should trust me,” I started, “but today’s a special day.”

They definitely looked at me like I was a bit off.

“On this day, in honor of a saint, you bake a cake and give it away to strangers. Would you like the cake?” I said with a hesitant smile.

“Yes!” said the only little one in the group. Her eyes sparkled and the grown ups laughed.

“What saint?” asked the grandma.

“Saint Phanourios. The cake is in honor of his mother. And you don’t have to eat it–I just want to give it.”

“Well, thank you,” said a few of them.

I turned to go–to let the kids run and tumble before we headed back home, and I can’t tell you how relieved I felt to be done with that awkward giving. As always, though, I was more than glad that I stepped out of my comfort zone and did it. From across the playground I noticed them munching on bits of the cake while my two played.

And as my children played I made two new friends! Michelle plopped right down next to me and grabbed my camera, demanding my name. We negotiated a bit and decided on a photo shoot. Nothing like a new friend. 🙂

And then Stella toddled by. She quickly started handing me nature gifts, so I talked to her about the trees while her mom stood by to catch her tumbles. Here are my two favorite treasures that she placed in my hand.

Well, and then I looked at my watch, called in the troops,

came home and baked cake number two. We took that second cake to the beach, where we shared it with friends while we watched the sunset.

What did you do for Saint Phanourios Day? I’d love to hear…

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2 thoughts on “Cakes, Strangers, and Friends

  1. One of my granddaughters is named after this saint. My daughter and her husband spell it Phanouria and she is nicknamed Franny. Phanouria’s mom, Anna, explained to her the night before her Feast Day that her saint was a soldier. The next morning Franny got up and asked mom where her strong saint was. “Is he at the fair?” She is four years old and having been to the fair the day before she was sure she would be able to find anything there.

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