Last year my husband and I celebrated 25 years together. In honor of this marital milestone, we decided to go big and booked an 8 day cruise from Athens to Rome. We spent a couple of days on either end to make for a two week trip. I could probably write a gajillion posts on this adventure. For us small town homebodies, this was indeed an epic odyssey!
The life lessons were many, but one beautiful truth stands above the rest yet I’m not quite sure how to word it. I suppose what I experienced was a sense of history that I hadn’t known before. Living in the Pacific Northwest, there aren’t a lot of structures more than about 125 years old, and those are few and far between. Those of you who live in the eastern part of the country, or the south, likely have a better sense of our nation’s history.
However, the places we visited on our journey were thousands of years old. There was a sense of longevity that was absolutely mind-boggling. It was probably most apparent to me in Olympia, Greece. We went to the site early one morning and honestly, it was the most peaceful place I’ve ever been to. The morning was bright and crisp, the mist not yet burned away and our fellow tourists ambled about, speaking softly. It was as if we were all loathe to mar the quiet beauty of such a grand morning.
Sitting among the ruins of these ancient temples to Zeus and Hera, walking the length of the ancient stadium where the first Olympic Games were held, meandering around the ruins of the Christian basilica that was later built on the site all felt incredibly surreal. It was one of those moments where you realize how very small and insignificant the span of a human life is.
We do have a tendency to view life through the narrow window of our own personal history, don’t we? It’s easy to forget that there is truly nothing new under the sun. Instead, we get focused on the happenings of today, acting as though the sky is falling and giving in to despair. Whether it’s the state of our country’s politics, the moral decline of the culture, the ebb and flow of our planet’s climate, we tend to see it all through the self-centered lenses of our own time.
As I sat in that ancient, mystical place I could imagine generations of people, tending to their places of worship, attempting to reach the divine in the only ways they knew how. I envisioned the later monks, enjoying the same bird song on a misty morning as they went about their duties, reclaiming the pagan site for El Elyon, God Most High in this place that was His to begin with. I watched men and women from all corners of the world as they milled about taking photos and I felt absolutely content knowing that my place in this story of history is a small one indeed.
And that’s really the beauty of it, my friends. Though we are so insignificant in the big scheme of human history, we are of immense value to our Father. It is He who gives us our significance. Only through His eyes do we have any eternal worth. I’m having a hard time articulating this. All I know is that I returned home with a sense of peace that had been missing.
Interestingly, when I got back home I immediately felt assaulted. The headlines, the political vitriol, even the constant flow of small offenses broadcast through social media hit me like buckshot. It was staggering to realize how toxic our lives become when we live as though we are all that matters. When our lives, our history, our desires become the center of our being, we forfeit love and peace is lost.
No more. For me, especially as we head into an election year, I shall choose to focus on the only One who is eternal. I’ll choose to remember the lesson in Olympia, the freeing realization that I am not the center of the universe, the sky is not actually going to fall, and there is nothing new under the sun. My God has been here through it all and He’s not about to abandon us now. What a joy it is to know that!
So, peace to you, dear friends. I’m posting a few photos of some of those ancient places we visited here, just because I can and because I love to remember my grand adventure. I suspect that, as the political rumblings heat up, I’ll come back to gaze at them and recapture their peaceful perspective!
Grace and peace,
Delphi was absolutely stunning! It was the prospect of going to the Oracle at Delphi that first piqued my interest in this cruise. I love the mythology even more now, knowing some of the history of its origins and having walked the pathways, petted the cats, (There were tons of cats everywhere we went in Greece!) and soaked in the incredibly beautiful countryside.
Here’s the most peaceful place on the planet…to me, anyway. (So far!). My photos don’t even begin to do it justice!
Temple of Zeus in Athens, with the Acropolis in the distance. Our photos of the Acropolis were few due to the torrential downpour and gale force winds when we hiked up there. What an adventure that was!
Another draw for me was to go to Knossos, Crete, the supposed birthplace of the Minotaur. It is considered to be Europe’s oldest city. Here are the personal chambers of the Queen, and the first ‘real’ road (behind us) leading into the amphitheater where festivals and dancing were enjoyed.
Probably my favorite tour of the trip was visiting the city of Pompeii. Unbelievably well preserved and so sobering. I fully intend to go back and spend more time there someday!
And of course, there was the Colosseum, the Vatican, the Forum, and all the beauty and history of Rome. Another place I intend to go back to! Here is Michelangelo’s desk and initials carved into the top.
Rome was incredible! There was so much art and beauty everywhere we looked. I’ll post just a few more and end with the cherry on the icing on the cake, my hands-down #1, now-I-can-die-happy picture. Seeing Michelangelo’s Pieta was a bucket list item for me. It is breathtaking and I may or may not have cried a little. 😉
If you’re still with me here, thanks for allowing me to share. It’s fun to revisit good memories, yes?