J2A Greece Pilgrimage 2008

Monday, June 23, 2008

There is a great moment, when you see, however distant, the goal of your wandering.

Over the past couple of days, the idea of dedication has stood out to me. As I walked through the monastery museum in Patmos on Friday a design in one of the old books stood out to me. I recognized it but not as a Greek symbol.

"Phil... this looks a lot like a Celtic Knot."

"It might be..."

And he proceeded to tell me the story of the lives of ancient monks. Each monk would specialize in one thing. One monk would be amazing at applying gold leaf; another would focus on calligraphy. Despite being held inside, to this day, impenetrable walls, there was a sense of security. Everyone knew what they were good at and followed that path from the age of fifteen or sixteen, (the age of the majority of our group), until they died.

But the story of the monks doesn't end there. A monk would spend a lifetime working on one book. One. And when that book, filled with the monk's life work, was finished he would be asked to take a pilgrimage to deliver that book to another monastery. A monk could be asked to travel to some distant city in Europe. It was highly probable that the book I was looking at had been brought from somewhere in Ireland and had been copied and then carried to this monastery in the far reaches of the Aegean Sea.

I tell this story because of the depiction of dedication.

Next our travels led us to Delphi. On the bus ride there I read a passage in Phil's book about a woman who called herself Peace Pilgrim. She travelled for nearly thirty years with only her message of peace. Pure dedication. At Delphi we were invited to present a question to the site of the Oracle. I remember reading a book of seers, fortunetellers, and prophets when I was in fourth grade, (the Oracle of Delphi was mentioned in the book of course). While my librarian disregarded the ancient prophets' accuracy, I was entranced with the idea of these people with this special gift. I remember telling my mom back then that when I went to Greece I had to go see Delphi. And here I was.

I was originally very agitated with the whole question thing. I loved the idea, but I had no clue what to ask. I was at a complete loss. After a troubling day of heat rash and a long bus ride, I was not too happy or spiritually in tune. By the evening I managed to find some peace of mind. The question would come to me during our time of silence, I thought, and I went to sleep.

I woke up Sunday morning with the question bursting from my rested head. "What should I do with my life? What should my dedication be?" It's a fairly open question. I wasn't exactly looking for a profession, but more of a purpose. The monks inspired me. Peace Pilgrim inspired me. No, I'm not planning on entering a convent or traveling for the rest of my life with no home. But, this was definitely the question I was dying to ask.

As the All Saints' pilgrims took turns going up to the entrance of the temple to present our questions, the direct sun was swelteringly hot. There was no shade to be had. Despite the peace our silent walk brought me earlier that morning, I was starting to get agitated. When my turn came, I walked up to the six columns that remain of the temple. As I looked up at them and, like in a surreal dream-sequence of a movie, they seemed to grow, the harsh stone contrasting with the brilliantly bright blue sky. I closed my eyes, starting my prayer. Suddenly, a breeze came straight through the entrance and provided the first bit of relief from the heat I'd had that morning. I went on to ask my question. I whispered it to the Oracle, to God, to myself, and to the land.

There was perfect stillness in my mind and all around me.

"You'll find it. It'll come to you."

And that was all I needed.

Stay open.

Listen for God's answer.


I will.

Alice Berry


At 6:29 PM, Blogger vw said...

YES! You rock, sister.

At 8:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The pictures are wonderful, as are your descriptions of your journey! We can't wait to see you all when you get home in two days! Enjoy the journey home.
The Newtons

At 10:16 PM, Blogger edge said...

What a lucky bunch you are. The memory will live forever.

The Edges

At 10:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great writing all. Thanks for the efforts - they are appreciated.

Carolyn - you have been "paying attention." And, you have obviously inherited your thought provoking and insightful writing skills from your father.

OK - Alexander - I'll bite - what in the wide wide world of sports was the question?

the Harris Family

At 11:21 PM, Blogger Laurie Haynes Burlington said...

Alice- thank you for your insight. I felt the Grecian heat as I read your entry. Atlanta isn't very hot. But it will be by the time you return. Rob- I was looking for a water bottle to send with Esther to camp. Then I saw you holding it in the photo. There it is! Ha.
love to all-
p.s. John and Rob- Keri and I could use some serious spa gift certificates.

At 3:59 PM, Anonymous S.E.'s mom said...

It is hard to believe that you are all almost on your way home. Your words and pictures have been a gift each day - thank you for sharing them. Safe travels and thank you Rob, John, Cathy, Courtney and Phil for the gift that your presence has been for our children.
S.E. we miss you babe - can't wait to squeeze your neck.


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