As night falls in Santorini!
“Awe-struck” & “thankful” are the only words that strike my heart at this moment in time as I sit at the Munich Airport … waiting … it’s a short lay over before boarding the extensive final leg back to that part of the world I know as home. At the same time, a bit of separation anxiety hits me thinking of how I say “Go with God!” to the 22 companions whom I have journeyed with these past 12 days in the Ancient World.
Long flights moves someone like me to really muse, think, look back, be pensive … whatever you want to call it … on a journey that deeply strikes the human heart when one is engaged to learn & experience rather than just go through the motions in order to say, “oh! I’ve been there!”
Where do I even begin? I was “awe struck” as I climbed many mountains this past week & a half: to the Temple of Nike & Athena, to the Oracle of Delphi and the Temple of Apollo, to the finger tip mountain top of the Varlaam Monastery, a wonder of the world, and gazed at the magnificence of the Parnassus mountain believed to be the second largest mountain in Greece split by the might of Zeus. I ascended the mount in Patmos to enter the cave where St. John wrote Revelation.
I’ve walked through the Ancient Ruins of the birth place of the faith which I deeply love which moves me to be “thankful.” I stood in Corinth and heard the reading of 1 Corinthians 13. I have touched the stones of what tradition tells us is the home the Virgin Mary in Ephesus. It was there that I felt utterly close to the Mother of God and could not help but be moved to tears. I’ve strolled the streets of Thessaloniki and enjoyed ice cream with my companions. I renewed my baptism and was sprinkled with water at the place where St. Paul baptized the first Christian, Lydia. I ascended to the castle in Philippi and thought of how beautiful and massive the world truly is. I’ve enjoyed a three day cruise on Greek waters and traveled to Mykanos, Santorini, and Crete.
And in our final day together, we celebrated the Eucharist at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in Istanbul, the largest parish in the diocese with 200 Catholics amidst the Muslim world.
And all of this … only a scratch of everything we undertook! What comes to mind? What comes to mind as I “people watch” in the hustle and bustle of the Germany airport, ready to hop on a plane and return to my little part of the world, to my ordinary life as a disciple of Christ.
Human history speaks to the heart. It tells a wonderful story of who we are and where we come from and it gives insight to where we are headed. These twelve days I’ve sought that part of history that speaks so eloquently of the gods of the Greeks, the architectures raised in their honor and worship. Yet, in this history, there was a man named Paul, an apostle to the Gentiles who was ship wrecked, thrown into prison, kicked out of many cities, went against the status quo to preach about the God who came to us in the face of Jesus. His passion & conviction brought Christianity to millions of believers today. When I look at his perseverance it puts my life in perspective and moves me to contribute my very small part of this massive story of the Resurrection event!
So as I make my way back, I hope to live more deeply for the God whom Paul spoke of so beautifully, the God who chose us from the foundation of the world to be his adopted children in Christ Jesus (cf. Ephesians 1).