Fotis Kontoglou started out as a babe and a child in a little part of the world, blessed with beauty and joy, protected by hills, by the vast ocean, by obscurity and unimportance.
The little valley - cuddled by the earth, smiled-on by the sun, protected and hidden by God – kept him and raised him and nourished him until he came to love it, so very much that he would never forget it.
So very much that his heart would long for that place and for those people always. And anywhere he went, he went, always, as an exiled man who remembers.
Wherever he travelled and wherever he went he was a rock of a different color, taken from the shallow ocean bed of that place, smelling of the sun that casts its light on that place, and the earth that showed its fullest glory there. Smelling of the sand and of the clearest sea water.
He was himself a little piece of that eden, and no matter what rains showered on him and what winds blew roundabout him, they couldn’t change his color, or dampen his warmth or disperse the scent of those people and that place that his souls was kneaded with. And so he walked the streets, and lived in the cities as a testimony of God’s secret art, and he lived his life as a sacrifice: for the world to know.
His body was a sacrifice: so that we may know that people come from somewhere. That we have a past and a meaning. That we have a significance. He was a memorial in the hard and broken streets of the city to the Man Who Knew God’s Love. And being there, for us, his days were a martyrdom.
I don’t think he ever forgave the sea that pulled him away and carried him far from the land of his birth. But I don’t think he ever stopped loving the sea, and burning with a longing for it, turning his mind to it, and visiting it, hoping always that that same sea might grab him again and take him back once again to the embrace from which he had come.
You know, it’s not everyone that God treats so roughly. It’s not everyone who lives a long death, torn apart by the beauty he has seen that he can never forget. This man must have been a great man and a very strong one. Otherwise I truly don’t think God would have burned him so with the fire of an angel.
I hope that now he has become fully inflamed and that the light of that beauty that he bore and endured during his life has become his eternally now. And that it includes him and counts him as one of its own.
Messenger of God, burning with desire for the good and the beautiful, shine your light also on us so that we can see our way.