I don’t buy expensive mittens or gloves. I’m too apt to lose them, so instead I go for the cheap ones at the checkout counter. I buy three-packs of knit mittens or gloves for a dollar. My hands are often cold, but I don’t feel as guilty when another one goes missing.
As I unpacked my winter clothes this fall, I found a lovely pair of black leather gloves in my coat pocket. Right where I’d left them! Right where I’d been leaving them for the past three or four years. (I think my mom gave them to me for Christmas in 2014, but I can’t be sure) Feeling so proud of this accomplishment, I dug through my everyday coat to find…no mittens left. But, I thought to myself, if I’ve kept these leather gloves for all these years, surely I’m able to up my mitten game!
I found the most lovely pair of warm woolen mittens and excitedly waited for them to arrive on my doorstep. They were everything I’d dreamed of in a mitten!
They arrived and I wore them around town running errands–my chilly steering wheel not a nuisance at all! Daughter happily noticed that our mittens were matching (the main difference being hers on a string…foreshadowing!). It was a lovely day of mitten-wearing.
The very next afternoon we arrived at the playground around 4pm. At only 46 degrees, I was feeling proud of myself for getting us out of the house even on cold days! Because we dress for the weather! I reached for my mittens…and found only one! In barely 24 hours of fancy-mitten-ownership I’d already lost one!
I frantically searched our car, garage, house, and driveway. No mitten. All through dinner I thought about our day and when the mitten could have disappeared. After dinner I left my family to go out into the cold, dark night with my flashlight (and one very cold hand) to search a spot I thought it might be. No mitten. Finally, after all this time, I started praying to St. Phanourios.
St. Phanourios is the patron saint of many lost things: “revealing lost or hidden spiritual matters of the heart, objects, directing or revealing actions that should be taken, restoring health and similar situations”. It seems that a lowly mitten might not be on his radar. Sadly, I head to bed knowing I’m returning to cheap mittens and cold hands.
In the morning daughter and I head out for a hike in the woods with friends. On a whim I decide to drive down the street where the missing mitten might be. Because of the direction we’re headed I am going past where I thought it could be and I’m almost done looking, when I see it! Sitting squarely in the middle of the sidewalk is my little mitten!
I joyfully share the news of the returned mitten with husband and daughter. My hands are deliciously warm throughout our morning hike. I am so grateful to St. Phanourios.
While it is just a mitten, and didn’t necessarily warrant saintly intercession I’ve received much more than my mitten. My answered prayer has brought joy and gratitude to my soul. It has renewed my prayer rule practice and intercessory requests.
Often my prayers are for intangible or seemingly unattainable things. The answers to my prayers frequently seem even more vague. Sometimes it is helpful to my spiritual life to get a straightforward answer, even for a mitten.
And so, time to bake the phanouropita! I adapted this recipe to make it gluten-free and with less processed sugar. Grateful to have good friends to share it with!
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
In a large, heavy bottomed saucepan, combine:
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup brandy
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups raisins
3/4 cup coconut sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for ten minutes.
Set pot in cold water to cool mixture completely.
Mix into cooled syrup:
2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour
2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda.
Beat vigorously for several minutes or until batter is smooth and bubbly.
Turn into well-greased 8″ loaf pan.
Bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
Share with friends and count your blessings: both small and great!