Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Matters That Matter

In the days before I left for Greece, I was so travel weary, I couldn't fully appreciate what lay ahead. I figured I'd been there before, and the only way I could enjoy the journey was through the eyes of  students--which I looked forward to-- in the same way when one takes their children to Disneyland--the adventure is not for the parents' own pleasure but for the parents to watch the delight in their child's eyes.

I assumed this is how I would experience Greece and Italy. I even volunteered to be the adult who, if needed, would sit at the hospital or stay at the hotel with a sick child, or stay behind in Athens if a student got lost. I was looking forward to a rest rather than tramping through ancient cities like a tourist. I worried about my capacity to keep up with jet lag.

I'm not as worn and weary as I had thought. I had misjudged the fighting spirit of life--of my life.

I knew it when we climbed up the first Roman, marble stairs of the Greek Acropolis. And when I resented Marco Polo for placing all his gun powder and weapons in the Parthenon and it blew the roof off. I knew it when I looked down on Mars Hill and saw Paul teaching the Athenians.

When I want to hear a foreigner's story, or sample five different pieces of baklava, or find a pomegranate in the open market, I still thirst for understanding, for adventure.

I knew I still had things to see, to enjoy, to learn when we reached the village of Meteora and the smell of apple wood permeated the city and delighted my senses. I knew it when I stepped out on the little balcony in the moist morning air and saw the rock formations in the distance.

I know it as I sit in the ferry lounge and watch the Ionian Sea roll and cap and I feel the helplessness of a sailor thrown overboard, or the fear in an overcrowded boat of Syrian refugees. I feel the wind at my face as if I were Odysseus searching for Ithaca.

But, the years have made a difference; the difference is: as important as seeing the museum treasures,  finding the leather gloves in the market, or ascending the stairs of St. Barbara Monastery, is taking care of the needs of a student in discomfort. There is an equal joy that comes from serving myself as well serving others.

It's as much a place of discovery as the geographical and historical wonders of the world.

The Acropolis doesn't care if I walk its ancient steps; a student who can depend on a teacher--does.