The simplistic beauty of white washed walls and blue domed churches forever beckons at the doorstep of ones heart, when one dares to experience the splendour of Santorini
The precious jewels in our life are not wrought of metal and stone, but are forged from the experiences of people and places that have opened our mind, stirred our heart and enriched our soul.
Climbing up a narrow cobblestone street I suddenly arrived on the main road. The steep climb while occasionally dodging the descending mules always brought a smile to my face. 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, a stone building with its white washed walls and blue staircase manifested a simplistic yet elegant beauty.
Walking along the main road leading to the harbour, I heard the gentle lapping of the waves against the wharf in the distance. After a brief walk, the main road suddenly opened up into a beautiful Venetian harbour. To my utter wonder, I was greeted by a splendid panorama of buildings arrayed in an myriad of earthy hues. As the first rays of sunset shone forth the splendour of renaissance facades sparkled before me. I paused and looked out in silence; for to truly acknowledge beauty one must be silent. Somewhere in the distance a church bell rang; the sound merely enhanced my reverie.
Walking along the Venetian harbour, I felt at ease. The sun cast its radiant glow over the blue water lapping against the yellow sandstone walls. The picturesque walk was complemented by a lone man selling sea sponges on a boat bobbing gently in the water. From early morning to late afternoon, he would be ply his trade; despite rarely ever selling anything he was blessed with a radiant smile full of joy. I was drawn to this man with whom I struck up a friendship, talking to him every day. Harris as he was known was a sailor, having travelled extensively around the Greek islands, and settled long ago on Crete where he had raised his family. He had seen times of prosperity and more recently adversity. I offered to pay Harris to take me around the Greek islands, knowing that he had difficulty making ends meet, however he answered, “My boat is in disrepair, nevertheless I would take you around for no money whatsoever”. One cold winter day he asked me if I wanted to have a drink of schnapps with him. Out of respect I said yes. I admired the heart of this man, even though schnapps was not to my liking. Harris then proceeded to order a couple of drinks from the restaurant across the street from where his boat was moored alongside the harbour. I was deeply touched yet saddened, as Harris was willing in a moment of sheer hospitality to spend several days wages on a couple of drinks in order to please me. I remonstrated with him not to order any drinks, as I thought that he had the drinks within his boat. He asked “Why not, it’s fine! Are you worried about the money?”, as he noticed the concerned look on my face. After reassuring him that it was okay he finally relented. Suffering had merely tempered his beautiful heart, and in this man I sensed a deep sense of humility and serenity despite providing for his family in difficult times. How could one not love such a man? Never before had I experienced such hospitality amidst adversity. I told Harris “May God bless you, and you forever trust in Him ”. Harris responded with a sad smile of conviction. “And that’s the greatest gift that one can ever wish for in life”
The old town had numerous cobblestoned paths ascending towards cliff. As we walked along the summit I looked out towards the ocean, overwhelmed at the sheer simplistic beauty of how effortlessly the splendour of creation blended with the creativity of mankind. A white staircase ascending towards an abandoned windmill, simple yet striking to behold. It was as if time had stopped, reminding me of a bygone era uncomplicated yet timeless in its beauty.
The distant lapping of the water splashing against the wooden moorings of the archaic Venetian bay, mingled with the sound of seabirds. As I walked along the cobblestones, the sun cast its vibrant rays upon the distant horizon. Pausing, I looked into the distance, yearning to capture the magnificence of this sunrise. Amidst the silence I perceived the beauty of a moment in time, powerfully engraved within the depths of my soul.
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. 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 constant and 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 and defiant in it’s timeless beauty, it captured my imagination. 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.
The little winding side streets paved with blocks of stone wound gently through the quaint picturesque town. The street was lined by archaic buildings on either side, often decaying but truly beautiful to behold in their brilliant array of colours. I stopped by this gorgeous cafe, a green wooden door standing slightly ajar warmly welcomed the passerby. The aroma of traditional Mediterranean food mingled with the melodic sound of music beckoned one inside. Cautiously stepping inside, I glanced at the staff with their genuine warm smiles and open hearts ready to welcome a stranger with traditional Greek hospitality. Their warmth and generosity matched the beauty of the decor inside simple, elegant yet thoroughly authentic.
The trials that we face in life are many, varied and at times seem 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 for 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 at 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.”.”