I have always been fascinated by our need to define the people meet. Who are you? Where are you from? What do you do? Those are often the first three questions we will pose as a form of introduction, using the information they provide to put them into little boxes in our heads. And yet, how many of us would feel accurately defined by the responses we might give to those three queries? Not many, I suspect.
In reality, there is always more to the people around us than meets the eye, each with the ability to defy the expectations we instinctively have to them. This ability was something I was to discover for myself when I found myself talking to Costas, a Greek Orthodox Priest outside a tiny church on the Greek island of Lesvos.
Unsure of the correct protocol for such a holy place, I was in the process of packing away my cameras into my bag when he first noticed my presence. "Your photos won't be much good with your camera in there," he said, before letting out an unexpected laugh. I have no idea why, but in my mind, priests are always meant to be solemn, especially in a Church, so his hearty laugh took me by surprise.
My surprise must have shown because his response to unintentionally quizzical look was a simple statement of "Priests like to laugh too, you know". And with that, he laughed again, seemingly well amused at his joke.
As the saying goes, never you can never judge a book by its cover, nor, as it would seem, can you judge a priest by his robes. Wherever I travel in the world, people like Costas still have the ability to take me by surprise, with even the smallest gestures defying the expectations society places upon them. Long may that continue.