- Brisbane – Sydney – Abu Dhabi – Athens
- Sydney never looked so good
- Abu Dhabi was when things started to look “foreign”
- But flying over Turkey was spectacular!
- In Athens at last
- Connecting with People
- Engagement with the Text
- Other posts in this series:
- Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: Day 0 Anticipation
- Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: Day 1-2 Brisbane – Sydney – Abu Dhabi – Athens
- Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: Day 3 Corinth and Athens
- Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: Day 4 The Oracle of Delphi
- Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: Day 5 Athens – Istanbul – Cappadocia
- Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: Day 6 Kaymakli, Sultanhani Caravanserai, Konya
- Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: Day 7 Mevlana Museum, Pisidian Antioch
- Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: Day 8 Hierapolis, Pamukkale Pools, Colossae, Laodicea
- Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: Day 9 Philadelphia, Sardis, Kusadasi
- Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: Day 10 Ephesus
- Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: Day 11 Patmos
- Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: Day 12 Smyrna, Thyateria, Pergamon
- Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: Day 13 Assos, Alexander Troas, Troy
- Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: Day 14 Gallipoli
- Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: Day 15 (and 16) Istanbul
- Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: In Review
Brisbane – Sydney – Abu Dhabi – Athens
But ultimately we landed in Athens.
Sydney never looked so good
Abu Dhabi was when things started to look “foreign”
But flying over Turkey was spectacular!
In Athens at last
The lifestyle is visibly different, partly because everyone seems to live in apartment blocks, but also because people move around these ancient monuments as part of their daily lives. This was to become something of a feature of the whole journey. Australians don’t have enormous monuments erected thousands of years earlier. The sense of “history” was more apparent in Athens than at home.
It forced me to reflect that, for Indigenous Australians, this sensation must be there in Australia, too. The “natural” landmarks in Australia can be identified with Dreaming stories in a way that connects their history with the contemporary people. Note to self: attempt to connect with that.
Connecting with People
We went for a bit of a walk from the hotel. I changed some money, and generally tried to get used to the idea of being in Athens. There were enormous amounts of graffiti everywhere, and the economic woes of the country were evident. The guide later explained that much of the graffiti is political.
Luca and I met an elderly lady by helping her across the street and we struck up a conversation in her broken English, and Luca’s minimal Greek. She was distressed and disillusioned. She was impoverished and in dire need of encouragement in the face of her whole country economically crumbling around her without any hope of relief in sight. We spoke about God’s providence for her, drawing on her already strong, presumably Greek Orthodox, faith background. We encouraged her in the certainty of God’s love for her and her whole country. We ended up praying for her on the street. She was convinced that I was a priest, and it was too difficult to explain otherwise.
She was concerned about a homeless man who had self-harmed, and whom she was trying to get to visit a doctor. I went with her to find him, just a few doors up the street. We found his bedroll but the man was not there. My friend was arguing with the proprietors of the property where the bedroll was located (a theatre), defending him and begging them not to chase him away. The lady in charge of the cinema was clearly not wanting to do anything heartless, but she was trying to run a theatre. I couldn’t understand their words, but the conversation was painfully transparent.
Eventually it became clear that the man was not returning soon, so I pulled out a One Euro coin, kissed it, and placed it in the man’s bedroll. The elderly lady instantly recognised this as a blessing, which was my intention, and she was moved to tears. I left her to continue pleading with the proprietor for a stay of execution on the homeless man, now armed with the authority of a “priestly” blessing over his case.
To me, the streets feel pregnant with the possibility for radical change. I reflected that if someone is not preaching a godly revival among the vast throngs of unemployed men, sooner or later someone will preach an ungodly one. One shudders to think. As for me, it sure would would be exciting to be preaching on the streets of Athens at the moment…
Engagement with the Text
The text for the day was Acts 17, with a focus on vv16-34.
This text became relevant later when we visited the Areopagus, but on day 1 I found no way to connect it with my experience.
I felt more connected to the experience of Jesus among the Israelites, preaching to them that the kingdom of God is come despite their awful poverty and affliction under the Roman yoke. I felt an urge to move around the streets gathering up the threads of faith that this community has built into its culture, as Jesus did, and preach a movement of radical hope, sharing, gratitude, forgiveness and transcendence, as Jesus did, manifesting the signs of God’s faithfulness to his people, as Jesus did.
Other posts in this series:
Expectations These are my thoughts as I pack for a Study Tour of Greece and Turkey with my Bible College: Intellectually My thinking process…
Brisbane - Sydney - Abu Dhabi - Athens Day 1 is mostly travel. In fact, it's hard to define what, precisely, is a "day" when you cross so many time…
Corinth and Athens We drove down the coast to Corinth in the morning, and returned to Athens after lunch to see the Parthenon and…
The Oracle of Delphi We headed out from Athens, and in a two hour trip we saw an amazing landscape change from cityscape, to countryside, to…
Athens - Istanbul - Cappadocia Just as we started to get used to Athens, we were off into the great unknown territory of Turkey. Unknown, that is,…
Kaymakli, Sultanhani Caravanserai, Konya For many in the group, the day began with a hot air balloon ride! They tell me it was amazing, and…
Mevlana Museum, Pisidian Antioch Beforehand, I would have expected Mevlana Museum to be irrelevant, and Pisidian Antioch to be somewhat interesting.…
Hierapolis, Pamukkale Pools, Colossae, Laodicea Oh my goodness, what a day! Hierapolis Hierapolis is mentioned in the Bible only…
Philadelphia, Sardis, Kusadasi Happy birthday to me! January 18th is my birthday, and someone on tour happened to ask, just a couple of…
Ephesus Just when you think you've got no more "wow", there's Ephesus... The whole site is like a visual feast. It reminded me of those…
Patmos We had an early start, so that we had time for the four hour boat ride to Patmos from Kusadasi... and four hours back again! We passed…
Smyrna (Izmir), Thyateria, Pergamon (Bergama) It's a big day when you visit three sites. On top of that, two out of these particular three were…
Assos, Alexander Troas, Troy Today we visited three sites, and all were impressive. It was another big day for all of us. He didn't let on, but I…
Gallipoli Without any hesitation I can state that this was the most moving and emotional day of the tour. Gallipoli is special. Here it…
Istanbul This is quite a town! It has twice the population of the largest city in Australia. The road rules seem to be taken as no more than a…