[many thanks to my new friend Chrishna for taking this photo of me]
Maria [our new guide, she’s super wonderful] told me that Meteora is referred to as “the forest of rocks.” this place is my heaven on earth. nestled deep in the heart of central Greece, Meteora is the stuff legends are made of. a simple city with charm to spare, overflowing with tiny cafes, lovely jewelry stores, and hotels boasting an unsurpassable view, the town of Meteora enraptured me almost instantly. but the natural phenomenon that had this city at its feet . . .
i could live to be 95 years old, read all the literature i could get my hands on from now until then, and still never have proper words to describe it fully. that’s the thing with words: i believe in them, i love to use them, and i can paint many vivid pictures with them. but they can only do so much. and this sight will not be contained within my words.
as i type, i am seated on the marble balcony of my hotel room, glancing up from my keyboard periodically. mainly because i simply can’t help myself. it’s so magnetizing. the cliffs jut upwards towards the sky without apology, baffling in their size and height. without any sense of uniformity or obligation, these rocks defy reason.
equally as astonishing than the boulders themselves are the organizations perched upon them. clearly a place of spiritual seeking and renewal, the cliffs of Meteora boast not just one but several monasteries, some accessible only by climbing a steady set of stairs that wound itself around the rock in question. additionally, cables stretched from one peak rather precariously to the next, to transport goods [and perhaps people?]. the disciplines of these monks and nuns is jaw-dropping. committing oneself to prayer all day every day is no joke. additionally, certain periods of the year would contain different dietary restrictions. at one point, only raw vegetables and tea are allowed.
i was fortunate enough to visit The Holy Monastery of Saint Stephen, perched atop the western-most cliff.
the facility was simple and elegant.
while i slowly walked through the courtyard, nuns in black swept past me efficiently, without making eye contact. there was a display of items hanging in a window, and i was taken aback as one of the nuns went up to a wooden plank, grasped a mallet, and hit it repeatedly in a pattern. apparently this happens many times a day, and different patterns are calls for different types of prayer.
the inside of the cathedral was covered, floor to ceiling, with artistic drawings, depicting various scenes from the Bible. from the moment i stepped inside, my mouth fell open. hand carved wooden columns surrounded the solemn, shockingly beautiful sketches. scenes from the scriptures were laid out in stark detail, including Abraham being wiling to sacrifice Isaac and the flogging of Jesus before the cross.
i found myself welling up with tears. in the midst of a pressing crush of tourists that were there to appreciate the artistic value and dedication of these saints, all i could feel was how strong and beautiful Jesus truly is.
no photos were allowed inside the cathedral, so i have no pictures to commemorate that moment. but i have my memory. i hope it lasts.
[the very first Greek prayer ever translated into English:
Lord Jesus the Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner].
tomorrow, i will have the opportunity to sit among this rocks and read my Bible, pray, and write in my journal. i am SO ready.
i have much to say about the mercy that my Lord Jesus has bestowed upon me, a sinner.