The trials that we face in life are many, at times seemingly insurmountable, threatening to engulf us. The narrow path, however difficult and fraught with sacrifice is the mirror that reveals what we believe in and what we live for. Pain and suffering strip away the mask that represents the fragility of our lives. Life has taught me that there is beauty and grace to be found even in the most difficult of times. A gentle word, a kind thought or an act of compassion during such trials manifests a spirit of hope and gratitude. The ability to love with courage beyond human strength and understanding, to show fortitude in times of adversity reflects what, and more importantly in Whom we live for. Yet how many pause to acknowledge that silent voice that forever knocks at the doorstep of our hearts, that has always beckoned us stirring within the depths of our soul.
“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”.
Gazing out towards the endless beauty of the Aegean Sea, I slowly looked back. The simplistic beauty of a white domed church perched on the cliff edge overlooking the town was perfectly balanced with the warmth of the morning sun and blue sky. The beauty of Greece pierced me with profound clarity. This ancient land and its people, despite experiencing adversity and hardships over the centuries, had the courage to treasure its traditions and gift of hospitality, balanced by a spirit of hope and fortitude. The character of the nation was reflected in the land and its architecture; faded and worn yet proud, warm and truly beautiful to behold.
The Venetian bay was calm, as the sun cast forth its luminous rays upon the quiet town stirring in the early hours of the morning. The beauty of the Renaissance era was manifested splendidly against the calm deep blue of the ocean. I paused in awe and looked out yonder in profound reverie. In a moment of serenity, I pondered, how the creative beauty of mankind blended so perfectly with the majesty of nature.
The faint echo of my footsteps disappeared into the silence. An aura of sanctity so profound manifested itself within the monastery. The buildings seemed archaic, yet the passing of centuries had merely enhanced their beauty. Decaying yet dignified, the monastery walls and church were marvellous to look upon in their simplistic beauty. As I stood looking upon an archaic facade, a monk with flowing black robes suddenly came up to me full of joy and smiling. His speech resonated with a beautiful melody, rich and resonant. I could not help but look upon his face in wonder. The thought fleetingly crossed my mind “Is he slightly mad?”. After a few moments, looking upon the purity of his disposition, I felt ashamed of my thoughts and merely stood in silence. The monk radiated a childlike innocence and joy, yet his words were filled with wisdom and love as he gave me his blessing and wished me well upon my journey. I stood for a long time in silence, not wanting to leave, sensing that I was in the presence of someone special. It was with a heavy heart that I eventually walked away deep in thought. I often think of this unknown monk. The purity of his warm eyes and loving words have left me a lasting impression. A monk living a simplistic life dedicated to prayer and fasting yet somehow filled with profound peace and joy.
Looking up at the archaic wooden door of the monastery, I read with a sense of reverence the ancient Greek and Latin inscriptions chiselled into the archway. An inscription carved in the entranceway in ancient Greek read, “Let the love of Christ be the light of your life that guides you”. I stood in awe and silence. The words resonated within the depths of my soul and my heart stirred with sheer love for whom I loved most, Christ Jesus. Eventually passing through the doorway I felt an immense sense of tranquility, as though I had stepped from modernity into a bygone era devoid of superficial distractions. The monastery emanated serenity and an aura of reverence. Besides the rustling of leaves and the wind dancing amidst the treetops, I was all alone. As the sun hid behind the clouds I gazed upon the facade of the monastery. Forlorn, decaying yet defiant in it’s timeless beauty, it captured my imagination.
There is a unique allure about the Greek Islands. Uncomplicated, yet full of elegance and sophistication, the inherent natural beauty and rich culture are perfectly complimented by the warmth and hospitality of its people.
Walking along the deserted street, I paused, admiring the mediterranean facades of earthy hues decaying yet defiant in their timeless beauty. Scarlet sandstone walls with elaborate coloured wooden doors contrasted brilliantly against well worn blue cobblestones. In the distance the ringing of Church bells, slowing brought me out of my reverie.
Climbing up a narrow cobblestone street towards the summit, the thought of exploring the unknown treasures of the island stirred my heart with childlike enthusiasm. Walking along, admiring the white washed buildings precariously hugging the cliff face, my attention was caught by a splash of colour. Located on the cliff face overlooking the ocean, almost hidden, was a stone building with its white washed walls and blue staircase. Pausing, I admired the simplistic and elegant beauty of an era that my heart deeply yearned for.
The smell of burning wood permeated the cool winters morning. Walking a few steps, I noticed a staircase. Archaic and worn with the passage of time it was nevertheless beautiful to behold in its antiquity. A flurry of activity suddenly caught my eye or was it merely an inner sense as I caught the momentary glimpse of a monks’ flowing robes. There was a profound stillness and aura of peace pervading the monastery. In deep reverie, the poignancy of the psalmist’s words stirred my soul.
The little winding paved side street wound gently through the quaint picturesque town. I stopped by this gorgeous cafe arrayed in radiant colours with its bright green wooden door. The aroma of traditional Mediterranean food mingled with the melodic relaxing sound of music. Stepping inside, I glanced at the staff, whose genuine warm smiles and open hearts were ready to welcome a stranger with traditional Greek hospitality.
The morning air was fresh as I walked along the street winding its way down to the harbour. The sound of my muffled footsteps disappeared amidst the gentle splashing of distant waves. Suddenly, I stopped by a sand stone wall with a resplendent red door. The passing of centuries which had left their marks of decay, merely enhanced the simplistic, elegant beauty of this colourful facade.
The old town’s cobblestoned paths meandered through whitewashed buildings, ascending towards the cliff. Reaching the summit, I looked out towards the ocean, overwhelmed at how effortlessly the magnificent splendour of creation blended beautifully with the elegant creativity of mankind. A white staircase ascended towards an abandoned windmill, simple yet striking to behold. It was as if time had stopped, reminiscent of a bygone era uncomplicated, yet timeless in beauty.