[another picture of meteora. because there can never be too many]
this trip is not real life.
i know that because this morning i perched myself on the edge of a giant cliff and read my Bible in silence for 15 minutes. then i spent 30 minutes writing in my journal.
at the beginnings of my writings, my words were carefully and precisely chosen, enthusing about the space and about the beauty of Psalm 138.
as i continued to write, however, my words slowed. i could feel myself becoming more and more desperate. the time, the solitude, the moment of time in which i could be still . . . was slipping away from me.
i drew a small continuum on one page, with ACTIVE on one end and CONTEMPLATIVE on the other. most humans find a balance between these two is where they find themselves. the monks are entirely on the contemplative end, seeking fulfillment in solitude and prayer.
and i began to weep in earnest.
because i find myself far on the active side, without true space for contemplation in my life.
i began to write frantically, calling out to God. within my words, i could sense the fear. i was mourning the loss of this quiet and contemplative space, recognizing how rare this discipline is within my current life.
reluctantly closing my journal, i pressed my eyes closed to fight them, but hot tears spilled relentlessly down my face regardless.
the kind of solitude that i experienced this morning, the kind that my soul craves, does not exist in my real life.
i self-imposed a vow of silence for my time at the monastery this morning. my tour-mates were gracious enough to understand. it was awed by the roaring sounds of quiet in my ears as i walked up the hundreds of stairs, stopping periodically to enjoy the view.
[it reads: Great and wonderful are your deeds, oh Lord God Almighty
who shall not fear and glorify thy name, O Lord?]
as much as i grieved leaving such a contemplative place, as the bus traveled back down into the valley, i saw, etched into the side of a large pillar, colorful markings. taking out my camera and setting it to 200, i was able to snap the photo below:
this space belongs to a hermit, who resides in the side of a rock [approximately 300 feet up]. the flags are indicative of his political, religious, and personal ideals. fascinating as this was, i also found it disappointing. after all, what is the purpose of having such strong ideals, and hiding away in a rock without using those values to impact society in a positive manner?
late last night, while walking downtown Meteora, i passed a cafe with a screen projected on the wall. it was tracking the Greek political elections, which happened yesterday. when results were announced, large groups of people cheered.
isn’t this what our ideals serve as? means with which to bring us together, to unite people under common causes and with purpose and hope.
a balance between the contemplative and the active life must be found.
i certainly had plenty of time to contemplate all of this on the drive from Meteora to Berea.
every song on my ipod was suddenly unbelievably beautiful, and i found myself staring out the window as Northern Greece passed by, tears welling up in my eyes. even songs that i had heard dozens of times before struck me as especially melodic and meaningful. all of my senses were heightened
i did snap out of my metacognition long enough to appreciate the countryside around me.
[one of the byproducts of too many hours on a bus: borderline stalker pictures of my tourguides in rearview mirrors.
left to right: Lambrose, the driver. Alp, the man with the plan. Maria, the most intelligent woman alive.]
we arrived in Berea, and Pastor Mike read aloud from Acts:
the brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea,
and when they arrived they went to the Jewish synagogue.
now these guess were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica,
they received the word with all eagerness,
examining the scriptures daily to see if these things were true.
many of them therefore believed,
with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men.
chapter 10, verses 10-12
[a statue of the apostle Paul, downtown Berea. i liked meeting him, he was very tall]
[and very serious]
[intricate tile mural on the church wall, depicting many individuals hearing the words of Paul]
[it says: in Berea they received the word with all eagerness, examining the scriptures daily
to see if these things were so. Acts 17:11
and also: the word of God is a power
neither hell nor sin gainsay
fruit and blessing abound
in the life where it holds sway]
while walking through the temple at Berea, i found myself thinking of my Papa [my grandpa and one of the coolest dudes alive]. he really admires the apostle Paul, i’m pretty sure that he is one of his biggest fans. all of this reminds me of my strong heritage of faith. in my family, i have so many spiritual leaders to look up to.
[outside, in the streets of Berea, a public fountain is available for any water needs.
as i walked by, a taxi driver was wringing out a cloth in it, and then using the water to clean his car.].
tonight, i am in Thessaloniki, which i already consider to be [arguably] one of the most hip cities in the world.
it’s late and i’m sleepy, so goodnight!