March 20th 2013 – I’m sitting in a shady spot on a stone wall in the Agia Triada monastery courtyard. After the short, easy 15-minute bike ride to this peaceful green oasis I wonder why I don’t do this more often. I’ve been here many too many times to count but usually, on a nice warm day the sea beckons me and I find myself on the beach instead. Not too bad a dilemma, I know.
Today I find my favorite shady spot to do some reflection and writing. I have my favorite sunny bench, too, but anywhere within these ancient walls is a good place to sit among the scores of potted flowers, blooming fruit trees and cheerful birds. And, of course, there’s always a stray cat (or ten) looking for a lap to sit in. Unlike the harsh world outside these walls, the strays are taken care of (or at least tolerated) by the good-hearted monks. It’s nice to see a healthy cat in Crete – there are so few.
A Greek Mediterranean Island in the spring – sounds romantic, doesn’t it? It is…sometimes. But Crete isn’t untouched by the perils of this world (just read the news about Greece.) As with any romance, there are highs and lows, beauty and ugliness. No place this side of heaven is perfect. A friend once observed that this island is a harsh place to live and it will break you if you allow it. She meant this in a good way. We’ve all been through a romance at least once in our lives that was worth pushing thorough the trials, painstakingly peeling back the stubborn layers to finally reveal a sweet fruit. It takes time, patience, tolerance, compassion, humility and a huge sense of humor. But in the end it’s worth it. Crete is not perfect but it HAS romanced me like no other place towards the heart of God. It’s here in His presence where I settle in, relax and find peace and safety not in a perfect spot but in His Perfect Love.
“One day spent in your house, this beautiful place of worship,
beats thousands spent on Greek island beaches.” Psalm 84:10 (The Message)