Things Paros Taught Me

In an email exchange with my mother (who deserves an award for being so wonderful and beautiful and coming all the way to Greece to see me in TWO WEEKS!!) I told her about how 5:00 pm is the weirdest time of day for me, because I always get a little homesick – right when it’s officially “evening”, right when the whole family would be home from work and school and practice and we’d be starting dinner and watching crime shows and getting our dog riled up to play because he’d been inside all day. She responded to said reflections with “Why don’t you made a list of things you’ve learned in Europe during your lonely time?” – did I mention she deserves an award?

So here it is – at least the beginnings – of a list that I’ve learned from being in Europe:

1. Greek people do what they want when they want and they always have something else to talk about. I love that about them.
2. Anyone can make art – art is not reserved for “artists”. We force ourselves and each other to “grow out of it”, but we must keep creating.
3. What it means to be in love with Jesus.
4. What it feels like to only have Jesus, nothing else. I’d recommend it to anyone wishing to see Jesus more clearly – just take everything else away! He’s pretty clear in those moments 🙂
5. That sometimes, you just need to write a poem. And that poem needs to be raw and rough and maybe even a little sexy. Trust me, it helps.
6. That I’d never once celebrated the human body. What a treasure it is!
7. How to develop and print black and white film photographs.
8. That I’m really, really bad at updating my blog.
9. Who Apollo was.
10. What being free feels like. Truly free. Jumping in the ocean all alone and smiling while you avoid the sea urchins. That kind of free.
11. How I don’t want to parent my children.
12. How valuable being quiet is.
13. That I hate the sound of loud motorcycles.
14. That the Law and the Gospel are not the same nor are they different, but that they are in a beautiful dance together glorifying Jesus on the Cross, the Resurrected King. I haven’t really learned that yet, but it’s coming along with a few brain explosions on my end.
15. Letting go is worth it.
16. Everything is going to be okay.

That’s all for now. This will be continued.

(Unbelievably) Early Morning in Piraeus

As I write, five of my dear friends rest their eyes and bodies in rather uncomfortable chairs in a cafe in this dingy little corner of Athens. More and more locals join the line for their daily cappuccinos, gazing curiously at our dreary bunch (probably judging us, but..YOLO). We’ve been at these tables for an hour or so, before that, on a boat for roughly 6 hours – we’re all exhausted. Today, we’ll board a plane to Prague for our spring break trip. We’ll stay there a few days, then to Paris, then back home to our sweet little Paros. I’m starting to love that island more and more each day. It has a charm all its own and that reminds me of Oxford and of my family. I’m forever thankful for that.

I’ve finally adjusted to life abroad, I think. More than “life abroad”, it was island life that took the most adjustment. Siesta time every day — EVERY DAY! No one’s in any hurry. Running for exercise doesn’t even make sense, but I’ve been doing that anyway. What a blessing to sweat all over the world! #meatheadprobz

Here are a few things that I’ve been learning/experiencing/living that I didn’t expect:

1: I LOVE CAPPUCCINOS! I thought I hated them at home, maybe they’re different, but I’ve been getting (at least) one, almost every day. Uh oh.
2: I’ve started being able to communicate – in the most elementary, one and a half year old manner – in Greek! I ordered a donut and a cappuccino at this cafe this morning all in local language. I’m loving that.
3: A band called Wake Owl. Look up their song “Wild Country”. I’m listening to it now and it’s smoothing out the rough edges of my tattered, tired soul. Also look up “No Silver” by Chris Bathgate. In love over here!
4: Greek women’s style is so interesting, and I’m buying into the trend. I went shopping for the first time the other day and bought a “greek sweater”, which isn’t really a thing, but I bought one anyway. A few things are hard for me to understand, such as the abundance of sweatpants, at least in Paroikia (the city in Paros where I live). Everyone wears sweats, all the time. Still not used to that. But they all look so cool! One day, maybe..
5: I’ve learned that when I get excited, particularly about a landscape (i.e. a visual representation of the greatness of my Creator, which are all over the place in the Cyclades) I start running. For example, last weekend we took a trip to Naxos, a neighbor island. We took a bus up into the mountains and parked about half way up the tallest peak, Mt. Zeus. Our plan was to check out an artisan fountain built at the foot, but I couldn’t help but jet up the side of the mountain on a trail covered in sheep tracks (and evidence of the efficiency of their digestive systems..). I made it about half way to the peak before I turned around to see the most beautiful, majestic, God-filled landscape I’ve ever had the honor to behold (Behold!). Tears filled my eyes, and I didn’t run anymore, because I was alright and I didn’t need anything more than knowing just that. I am alright.

I’m about a third of the way through my stay here in Europe. A month has gone by, can you believe it? It’s an odd reality, the one I’m living. It’s an adventure, and I’m having so much fun. I am learning, however, that I value so much my home and a routine and familiar eyes to look into when I come home. But my God is faithful and faithful and faithful, regardless of my circumstance and THAT is my comfort and joy.

Kisses from Greece (and Prague, and Paris, and wherever else I end up today). And look up those songs!