Today is our day for ancient Delphi – a place of “mythic” legend. This is not saying much since I suppose most all of Greece is the stuff for mythic legend.
Perhaps what is most mythic of all is the quantity of food I am taking in! Large breakfast buffets followed by marvelous and unique lunches and of course breaks in between before finally concluding the day with a big supper. As they would say in Greece, “Opah!” – which no one knows what it means but somehow the collection of vowels and consonants succinctly sum it up.
Following breakfast and after loading the bus we gathered alongside the Harbor of Itea (which means willow) and held a brief worship service. I used Philippians 2:1-11 as the text and we reflected on not only the land in which Paul traveled, but the call of Paul to take on the mind of Christ. Together we prayed for those who lost loved ones on that fateful day 10 years ago as well as this world which is still filled with uncertainty. We closed with Keith leading us in singing “Holy, Holy, Holy” and after the benediction we departed. Several “old men” of Greece were near-by and smiled and greeted us after we worshiped. There presence and indulgence of all these tourists holding a worship service while they were visiting was a simple and nice gesture of hospitality.
Fifteen minutes later we were in the ancient town of Delphi, which was once a thriving town and is now just a small village of about 2000. Delphi, according to the Greeks, is considered the center of the world and alongside Mount Parnassus there is a marble cone called the “belly-button” which marks the center (yeah, I know, it sounds disgusting). The symbol of both Greeks as well as the Orthodox Church is the two-headed eagle which goes back to this notion of an eagle looking upon both sides of the word. While the morning was still pleasant in temperature we spent the time clamoring over the remains dating back more than 2500 years. We viewed ancient columns, Temples and Treasuries, most of which were dedicated to the mythological god Apollo. Several of us hiked up near the top of the mountain to view the ancient Stadium, where athletic games were held several centuries before the time of Christ. The Pythian Games were second in importance only to the Olympics.
This week I have felt rather guilty for not finding the time to jog or exercise, but today I burned a few extra calories with the walking and climbing. It was a nice “rest” for us to enter the museum and view the many artifacts recovered from the ruins. There was even a section of stone naming the governor Claudius and the proconsul Gallio, both of whom we read of in Acts 18:1-17.
I have traveled to Israel twice, Rome once, and now I making this journey through Greece. It is a big world in which we live and yet our culture has much indebtedness to the contributions of the ancients. Our art, politics and commerce has been shaped by these cultures. Even our faith has been forged out of the experiences, language and reactions to those who have come and gone before us. We are following Paul’s footprints, but I cannot help but wonder what footprints are we leaving behind? I certainly appreciate this privilege to travel here, for it is rounding out my experiences between geography and Bible. I will never read the New Testament the same way again.
This would not be a travel blog if I did not include some of our meals. Today was particularly special. Our lunch was held Angelo’s House, where we met the owner and his wife (who was the cook) – both of whom seemed delicately worn with age and hard work doing something they love. There expansive place looks and feels “Greek” from the moment you walk in the door. While viewing the gorgeous range of mountains we enjoyed fried cheese, Zucchini balls, meatballs with cheese, stuffed grape leaves, egg plant, Greek salad and several other dishes whose name (or identity) escape me. The dear “cook” posed with the group after our meal, and hugged and kissed the cheeks of many. I was offered a handshake – I must have looked a bit suspect.
After a little shopping across the road, we made our way to our hotel in Athens.
Early tomorrow we board a ship to visit four of the more than 200 populated islands that make up Greece. I am unclear about internet connection so it could be that postings for Day 7-10 may be delayed. Thank you for reading and keeping up with our travels. It is a pleasure and honor to share them with you.
Grace and peace,