Ferrying through the Aegean
In the sermon before I left on sabbatical I quoted from Phil Cousineau’s book The Art of Pilgrimage regarding “5 Excellent Practices of Pilgrimages”. Given that Jan and I have just spent time on five Greek Islands, I thought it would be good to review the five practices against the five islands including Rhodes, Kos, Santorini, Mykonos and Delos.
Practice one: Practice the arts of attention and listening – while I hope to practice these everywhere, the islands of Rhodes and Delos came to the forefront when considering this practice. It was on Rhodes, the first island we visited that I found myself paying such close attention. It was all new to me…the sights of the beaches, the castle, the Old Town within the Wall, the sounds of many languages spoken, the church bells ringing. We stayed a week on this island – enjoying the hosts of our small hotel, letting ourselves sink into the Greek culture, taking many walks, a long bus trip to Lindos, absorbing the history of the land and people. After the whirlwind tour of Turkey, paying attention in Rhodes helped us slow down and take in what was around us.
Practice two: Practice renewing yourself every day – and this happened on the next island we visited, Kos. It is a smaller island and though there were many things to see and do, we chose not to try and squeeze the whole island into a couple of days nor to rent a car or scooter. Instead, we chose to walk everywhere and remember that we would not see everything so let’s focus on what is before us. We visited many ancient ruins, took naps and ate Greek frozen yogurt, as well as read and reflected on all we saw and experienced.
Practice three: Practice meandering toward the center of every place – this could not have been more true than visiting the island of Delos. It lies in the center of the Cyclades and is the most sacred island. The ferry ride out to this island was extremely rough and the northeast wind blew constantly. And it was a powerful experience to stand near the ancient temples and places of worship, to imagine the lives of the people who flourished in such a harsh and dry climate. We spent some time in the section named Sanctuaries of the Foreign Gods. It seems that worship was a most important part of their lives. Standing in this place reminded me of Cappadocia in Turkey and again, the emphasis on and need to worship – hence churches and chapels carved into the earth, some high in a cliff and others, deep in underground cities. Going to the center of these places took me inward and I am still reflecting on what it means to go deeper.
Practice four: Practice the art of reading sacred texts – I am now well into my third (or fourth) book and it is wonderful to take the time (and have the time) to read so much. And again, the island of Rhodes comes up for it was here that I finished the book Paul Was Not a Christian: The Original Message of a Misunderstood Apostle by Pamela Eisenbaum. While it isn’t exactly a sacred text, it has been enlightening and provocative for me. It has been an interesting journey, reading this book as it has helped me see Paul in a much different light than I had been taught and it has helped with some understanding of the message he preached. I have more questions and thinking to do from this text and from Paul and I am energized by this work.
Practice five: Practice gratitude and praise – singing. The island of Santorini – with its light, its beauty – indeed made my heart and spirit sing. Awed by the beauty of the natural world, the kindness of strangers and helpful people who made traveling easier – what gifts have been ours in these last two weeks or so.
Finally, while in the book Cousineau does not say this is a practice “Pass by that which you do not love” – but he repeats it often in the book and I found myself thinking of this statement the most when on the island of Mykonos. It too is a lovely island and I was able to pass by some places, forgo some experiences because I would not love them and instead, retain my energy and focus for those things and experiences which I did and do love.
Monday, Oct. 1st we move on to Athens for a time; I continue to remember you all in my prayers and hope that your fall is inspiring.
Editor's note: the comments below were carried over from our previous website and were submitted 9/30/12 - 10/25/12.
12/3/2019 05:31:22 pm
Do I see an Adult RE class on Paul?
The other Kathleen
12/3/2019 05:39:19 pm
Thanks for sharing your journey with us as you travel. Love.
12/3/2019 05:39:38 pm
Sounds like a thoughtful and relaxing trip.
12/3/2019 05:40:02 pm
Thanks for sharing the journey. Fun to see it through your eyes and words. Looking forward to all of it
12/3/2019 05:40:33 pm
What a privilege to be able to peek into a small part of your adventure through your blog. The extraordinary places you are visiting sound incredible and I love that you are drinking in some of the “pondering” time too. You are both missed! Big hug, Maggie
12/3/2019 05:41:06 pm
I just can't resist: Kathleen, you are now a Rhodes scholar :) Safe travels to you and Jan.
12/3/2019 05:41:22 pm
Glad to hear you're just on sabbatical. I'd thought you had left for your own church, and I so appreciate your messages. Enjoy! Recharge and forget about us for a while!
12/3/2019 05:41:54 pm
What a delight to read of your five islands and how you connected your experiences with Cousineaux"s The Fine Art of Pilgrimage! Reminded me of Tomas's and my "pilgrimage" to five islands many years ago - (3 of your 5 were the same). Fascinating about the "real Paul" - I want to learn more! I reread Homer's Odysseus when I travelled in Greece. Tomas and I send hearty love to you both.
12/3/2019 05:42:15 pm
What a wonderful sharing. I hope you find a Greek wedding for you and Jan to dance at, eat, and celebrate.
12/3/2019 05:43:45 pm
I loved Santorini! Not the crowds and marketplace, but the beauty of the island, the bright blue against the white, white walls of cottages. What a history the island has. DId you have a chance to see the ruins -- amazing developments for 1517 (do I have the correct date of the volcanic action that tore away most of the island. A funny story. We bought three posters of Santorini (paying $2.00 apiece). When we got home it cost $90 dollars to have them framed. I feel such peace when I look at those pictures! I admire your dedication to blogging. We started to do it on our three month trip to New Zealand and Austrailia but found it too time consuming. Congratulations for your efforts! Can hardly wait til your DIning 4 $ event to hear lots more about your trip! We will be in Mazatlan, MX for the month of November and then on Dec. 5 I am having surgery, so it will be awhile before I get to give both of you a BIG HUG! Enjoy the remainder of your trip! Hugs, Bobbi
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