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Travels in Turkey

What a gift of time this sabbatical is and again, I thank you, the Congregation for understanding the need for a sabbatical. The first few days were busy with final preparations for our three months abroad. We flew to New York and then to Istanbul on Tuesday, Sept. 4th. We arrived a day or so earlier than the tour group with which we would travel the country. We met the tour group (through SmarTours) on Thursday evening and began a two-week adventure. Our tour guide was a fabulous man with extensive knowledge and stories to share. His master’s degree in political science and his love of history and his country made his commentary most informative and entertaining. We traveled a little over 2,250 miles via bus as we made our way through central and western Turkey. We found the people friendly, the history very rich; and we found there are some similarities that Turkey and the United States share. The people love their land, their traditions and customs and in many ways want to be accepted by the West. Also like the United States, there are many cultures and traditions that make up the people and the country.

Time after time, in many places – whether it was visiting Istanbul and the Blue Mosque, or the Hagia Sofia, or the Holy Relics of the Prophet Mohammed in the Sultans’ Palace to visiting the early Christian cave churches in the Cappadocia region, to visiting Ephesus and the House of Mary (where Jesus’ mother is supposed to have lived out her final days), the power of belief, the act of believing in the legend/story/place has power and it is the act of belief that holds the power, not the site/story/legend. The people’s devotion, the way they approach and come to these places, full of reverence, full of longing – is what moved me more than the place, the church, the legend. And I ponder what we Unitarian Universalists hold to so strongly – what are our actions, how we choose to spend our free time and our resources – what do they say about what we believe.

I know this isn’t a new insight, but in this country, in the midst of such living history – through visits to museums, churches, and villages and interacting with local people, I was reminded again and again of this truth. I will be reflecting on this in the days to come as we continue on our way…leaving Turkey and heading toward Greece. We have identified five different phases for our travels in the Mediterranean, 1. Turkey, 2, Greek Islands, 3, Italy – the mainland, 4, Italy – the coast and southern regions and 5, Greece, the Peloponnesus and the mainland. Through it all, I’ll continue to write and share some experiences and learning. Already, I have some ideas for sermons and Adult Religious Education classes forming; already I am remembering you in my thoughts and prayers and wishing you a full and rich time in San Diego.

7 comments (Add your own)

1. Chris Smith wrote:
Rev Kathleen, thank you for your impressions and insights - sounds like the pilgrimage is wonderful indeed. Regards to Jan, Chris

Fri, September 21, 2012 @ 1:42 PM

2. Nancy Fisk wrote:
Thank you, Kathleen. You may continue traveling without guilt. I'm putting this in the October First Words.

Fri, September 21, 2012 @ 6:23 PM

3. Patricia Christenson wrote:
Hi Kathleen, Thanks for the first posting of your adventure.I have been checking the blog and waiting impatiently for the first posting. Enjoyed reading your comments and will continue to read them as I set off on my own pilgrimage. Love to both you and Jan, Patricia

Mon, September 24, 2012 @ 3:07 PM

4. Peggy Holl wrote:
I finally remembered, a week after returning from our trip, to look at your blog. I appreciate your comments and insights. John and I are easily able to relate. Thank you for taking time to write. Cotinue to enjoy your trip and love to both you and Jan. Peggy

Mon, September 24, 2012 @ 6:00 PM

5. Jim Grant wrote:
Hi, Kathleen. Betty and I and Ruth VanLeeuwen have just finsihed some delicious soup and cornbread and are thinking of you and Jan. Thanks for your "travelog" and your insights. Keepl your blog coming. Ruth says, "I miss you! and I'm glad you're having a glorious time." Betty ways, "I hope you're finding some interesting food!" Jim says, "Go for it, Kathleen! and Jan!! Love, Jim, Betty, and Ruth

Mon, September 24, 2012 @ 7:11 PM

6. John Schaibly wrote:
What a treat to take a vicarious trip through that old part of the world. Thanks for sharing with us. Love, John and Ardath

Thu, September 27, 2012 @ 7:55 AM

7. Joan Cudhea wrote:
Tomas and I are delighted with your first blog! Glad to know that it will be in First Words. Bring home a stone from each special pilgrimage place - someday you will have a chance to place at a new home or in the labyrinth at Two Brooks Family Tree Farm! It's good to have a memento of those moments when you pondered the power of belief. Hugs to you both from Tomas and Joan

Fri, September 28, 2012 @ 9:03 AM

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