There is a simplistic beauty and warmth about the Greek Islands. Uncomplicated, yet full of elegance and sophistication, my mind, heart and soul were won over by my experience of Greece. Inherent natural beauty, a rich culture, complimented by the warmth and hospitality of its people. For a country that has endured so much, the ability to show warmth and compassion was one of those experiences that I will forever cherish.
Walking along the sea shore all alone, a sensation of peace mingled with excitement suddenly gripped me as I looked towards the horizon. Only a few brief moments of precious light remained whereby I could experience the sun setting. Quickly climbing atop a rugged boulder surrounded by water, I looked out towards the ocean, overawed by its beauty. I stood still, a lone insignificant silhouetted figure, with eyes closed and outstretched arms in supplication. The sound of the gentle wind and splashing of the waves upon the rocks melted away as I turned inwards to prayer, offering praise to God for His beautiful Creation. There are special moments when silence manifests such a profound presence that it penetrates the depths of one’s soul, where silence is suddenly filled with a presence, both powerful and pure to behold.
Wandering along the seashore, I smiled as my feet marked out a path of desolate footprints along the fine brown sand; the waters of the flowing river lapped gently at my feet. I smiled with childlike innocence and joy as the sun’s warmth coursed through my body. All alone, surrounded by the beauty of nature I experienced an immense sense of peace well within me. Slowly looking up towards heaven itself, I was seized by the sheer beauty of what lay before me. The sound of flowing water coursing towards the ocean mingled with the soft wind that gently caressed my face, manifesting a heavenly chorus. The pure white clouds spreading their celestial beauty across Heaven struck a deep chord within my soul. Standing in reverent silence, I was humbled before such magnificence, rejoicing at the providence of God and His amazing outpouring of love expressed in His Creation. Deep within my the depths of my soul, the psalmists words echoed with profound clarity.
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! Psalm 46:10
Alone perched upon a ragged boulder I looked out towards the ocean, oblivious to the waves which menacingly splashed around me. It was if a sea of white foam coursed all around, engulfing everything in its path and then retreating albeit hesitantly into the depths of the Ocean. The winds danced wildly amidst the boulders rising occasionally into a crescendo in harmony with the sound of waves splashing around me. I was all alone yet an inner peace gripped my soul, awesome to behold. There are moments of sheer beauty when one must pause and be silent, for only in silence can one even dare to contemplate true beauty. A silence which commands our every sense and manifests the magnificence of Creation in all its splendour. I sat in silence for long moments; deep from within my mind, heart and soul resonated the words of the psalmist with profound truth and power …“Be still, and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10
The walk down the cliff face was arduous. Several hundred deep stone steps hewn out of solid rock, formed a long meandering path from the cliff edge to the shoreline. The muscles in my legs burned with the intensity of effort, nevertheless I carefully descended the stairs full of anticipation and joy. After reaching our destination I paused briefly and looked back from whence we came. Blue domed churches amidst white washed buildings overlooking the caldera captured my imagination, an awesome display of sheer beauty.
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 at how the creative beauty of mankind blended so perfectly with the majesty of nature
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 his boat alongside the quay. 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 heart, and in this man I sensed a deep sense of humility and serenity despite providing for his family in difficult times. Never before had I experienced such hospitality amidst suffering. I told Harris “May God bless you and always be with you”. Harris responded with a sad smile of conviction. “And that’s the greatest gift that one can ever wish for in life”
The climb down the sheer cliff face was arduous; high steps hewn out of solid rock wound their way down to the cave house overlooking the caldera. A beautiful view overlooking the brilliant blue of the aegean immediately transfixed me in a state of reverie. Looking back from our track I paused in a moment of profound awe. “The simplistic beauty of the white washed stone walls, contrasted against the beautiful blue domed churches were amazing to behold”. I was immediately transported back to a time far gone, yet mesmerising in its simplistic beauty.
Passing down a narrow cobblestone street I suddenly veered left towards the ocean, winding my way down a narrow staircase. The thought of exploring the unknown stirred my heart with childlike enthusiasm. Looking back from whence I came, I looked upon a windmill. Located on the cliff face overlooking the ocean, its white washed walls manifested a simplistic beauty contrasted against the blue sky. The wind swept clouds formed a beautiful mosaic adorning heaven itself. A lone figure perched atop a cliff face, I felt a sense of profound peace in that moment of solitude.