“You shall love your neighbour as yourself”

Passing through the archaic gateway of the Holy Trinity Monastery in Crete, one is met with profound silence and reverence. An inscription at the entrance inscribed in ancient Greek reads “Let the love of Christ be the light in your life that guides you”

The power to forgive and love despite suffering is the most powerful manifestation of Christ’s commandment “You shall love your neighbour as yourself” which reflects ones love for God. Let me share a beautiful story of personified grace that manifests such words.

The famous German writer Erhart Kästner acknowledged the following:

“In 1952 I visited Athens for the first time after the war. In the German Embassy, when they heard that I intended to go to Crete, they suggested to me that I pretend to be a Swiss, because it had only been a short time since the German Occupation and the wounds were still unhealed. But I knew the Cretans. From the very first moment I said I was a German and not only did I have a good time, but wherever I went, I experienced the legendary Cretan hospitality.

An afternoon, at sunset, I visited the German Cemetery in Maleme. It seemed like it was empty; only the last sun rays fell on it. But I was wrong. There was a living creature there. It was a Cretan woman dressed in black. To my greatest surprise I saw her lighting candles to the graves of the German soldiers, who died during the battle of Crete, and she was going methodically from the one grave to the other. I approached her… and I asked her:

– “Do you come from here?”

– “’Yes…” she replied.

– “And why are you doing this? Those men killed so many Cretans during the war…!”

The woman replied:

– “Son, your accent proves you to be a foreigner, therefore you probably do not know what happened here from 1941 to 1944. My husband was killed in the battle of Crete and I was left alone with my only son. Germans took him as a hostage in 1943 and he died in a concentration camp (KZ) in Sachsenhauzen. I do not know where my son has been buried. But I know that each of these men was son of a mother like me. And I light candles to their memory, because their mothers cannot come down here. I am sure that another mother lights the candle in memory of my son.”

And the German finished surprised: “Only in Greece such an answer could have been given!”

“The scent of fresh air following rainfall was still lingering in the cold winter wind”

The scent of fresh air following rainfall was still lingering in the cold winter wind, as I ascended the winding cobblestone road leading into the heart of the city. Archaic pathways opened up into splendid squares, surrounded by elegant buildings decorated with a brilliant array of vibrant colours, emphasising the cultural splendour of Germany’s medieval cultural heritage.

“Simplicity and elegance in the architecture reflected a bygone era of sophisticated flair…”

Pausing by the footpath, I surveyed the centuries old road disappearing into the distance beneath a beautiful classical arch bathed in sunlight. Simplicity and elegance in the architecture reflected a bygone era of sophisticated flair, manifested in the splendour of buildings and facades characteristic of this elegant city.

“The silence manifested a powerful impression as vivid as the scent of winter’s rain…”

The light shower of rain settled over the cobblestone road leading into the heart of the city. Walking along, I was struck by the elegant beauty of my surroundings. Alone in my thoughts, the silence manifested a powerful impression as vivid as the scent of winter’s rain lingering in the cold air.

“The simplistic beauty of this renaissance stairwell stirred the depths of my imagination…”

Walking along the narrow cobblestone street I paused before an old wooden brown door decorated with cast iron adornments. Unperturbed, I pushed the door, which groaned heavily and proceeded up the dimly lit passageway. The sound of people walking in the street dwindled as I wound my way up a narrow ancient corridor, until arriving at an archaic stairwell. I looked up in wonder at the winding staircase; the yellow glow along the walls was penetrated by the gentle blue of the sky breaking through in the distant heights. Faded walls with a multitude of cracks permeated their surface forming an archaic tapestry. Every line seemed to manifest a mysterious tale, centuries old. The simplistic beauty of this renaissance stairwell stirred the depths of my imagination, making me yearn for a bygone era.

“The stillness of the night was as profound as the smell of winter rainfall, lingering in the air”

The large wooden door simplistically adorned beckoned me to enter the deserted street. It was late in the evening; the glow of lamps cast a golden haze across the cobblestone pathway and archaic buildings. The stillness of the night was as profound as the smell of winter rainfall, lingering in the air. Walking along, I noticed the various cracks across the facade of buildings, a historical tapestry weaved from the renaissance to the present day. The scene was forlorn, yet it seemed as though the harsh passage of time could not entirely efface the beauty these stones, heralding a bygone era.

“For long moments I stared out from the river bank, silent, a lone silhouette in the stillness of the night”.

Yonder, across the great expanse of water an archaic building guarded the entrance to the old city along the river bank. Illuminated by the golden glow of street lamps, a warm light reflected in the calm, steady flow of the river. The whirling of the wind intermingled with the gentle sound of flowing waters. My thoughts drifted from the nearby bridge towards the old city with its magnificent blend of classical and renaissance architecture, unique and mesmerising to behold. I pondered an era, long ago that somehow I deeply yearned for. For long moments I stared out from the river bank, silent, a lone silhouette in the stillness of the night. Deep in reverie, my thoughts were entranced and calmed by the beautiful golden glow on mysterious waters.

“My thoughts were entranced and calmed by the golden glow upon mysterious waters”.

From the shore I gazed out towards the magnificent cast iron bridge spanning the great breadth of the river. The old part of the city, lit up by streetlights, emanated a warm light reflected in the calm but steady flowing river. The whirling of the wind dancing around me, intermingled with the gentle sound of running water. Entranced by the soft glow of distant lamps I looked out yonder towards the old city. It seemed the bridge and city were connected by the impulsive drive of mankind to surge forward towards the future while establishing a tenuous hold with the past. For long moments I stared out from under the embrace of this magnificent steel structure. My thoughts were entranced and calmed by the golden glow upon mysterious waters.

“I stood still admiring this elegant beautifully decorated facade.”

Waking long the narrow meandering path, I was pleasantly surprised as it suddenly opened up into a wide thoroughfare. A delightful scene unfolded before my very eyes. A radiant yellow window decorated with blue wooden panes set against red bouquets of flowers adorning window sills, contrasted brilliantly with the sandstone coloured archaic wall and blue tinged cobble stone street. I stood still admiring this elegant beautifully decorated facade. In childlike wonder I thought “What would life in this town been like?” In deep reverie, I imagined a time long past, where the sound of horses hooves  plodding along the cobblestones mingled with the clamour of shop keepers bartering their wares, and peasants going about their daily chores, as travelling musicians enchanted their audiences with stories and tunes to soothe the soul.

“In reverie, I pondered the beauty of silence…”

Winding my way along the banks of the crystalline lake flanked at the doorstep of this beautiful French alpine town, I came across a wrought iron bridge. Simple and stoic in architecture it nevertheless bore testimony to the elegant creative beauty of the past. The cool autumn air was invigorating. Somewhere in the distance the call of birds permeated the air. Upon the still water, a line of pure white swans slowly swum upstream. In reverie, I pondered the beauty of silence and simplicity, a treasure often buried amidst the thick layer of dust of our everyday lives.