It seems appropriate that my 100th blog for Cretan Chronicles is also my last. Even as I write this, we have departed the island and are journeying across America to our home in Evergreen, Colorado.
I can’t even express the mixed emotions I feel as I think about our five years living on Crete and the realization that we won’t be returning, except for the few future visits we hope to accomplish.
My last day on Crete I wrote this journal entry:
July 30, 2014 When I look at photos of Kai and the rest of family and friends in Colorado, I know it’s time to return to the States and I am excited to see what God has planned for us there. But right now, as I look over the calm blue morning sea of Crete and take in the sounds of cicada’s songs and the lilt of Greek conversation around me, I feel a tug at my heart that feels like homesickness. I realize that in opening my heart to a new culture, I have also opened myself to the vulnerability of heartache. I have let Crete and the people here get under my skin and it all has become a part of me, shaping and changing me in ways I never imagined. So, it’s not without an ache of loss that I think about leaving this place. God has bless us immeasurably in our experience here especially with good friends (many of whom have moved on.) But I know that He has prepared us, fashioned us, tested us and refined us in this place of extreme harshness and beauty for His purposes.
What have I learned from my five years living in Crete? From the simple and curious to the profound and serious:
1. There is power in simplicity; freedom in the unencumbered; joy in living for each moment; peace in a slower pace.
2. There’s always time to visit a friend or extend kindness to a stranger.
3. Eat REAL food – if it’s wrapped in plastic or boxed in cardboard, avoid it.
4. Organized chaos works as long as everyone knows and abides by the rules. Case in point – driving the streets of Chania.
5. Be prepared to laugh a lot at yourself if you’re brave enough to try to converse in Greek.
6. America is a great country but it could (and should) humble itself and learn from other cultures.
7. The only true Christian nation is not identified within borders, but rather by the diverse community of rag-tag believers around the world who simply desire to follow Christ and belong to God’s Kingdom.
8. There is a reluctant beauty in the hard places.
9. I’m stronger than I thought I was but the more I learn, I realize, the less I know.
When we accepted this assignment with the US Navy at Souda Bay, Crete, we thought it was a two year stint. Sure, we thought, two years is just about perfect. Any longer might be a problem. So, we ventured ahead with a prayer on our lips for two things in particular…1. travel adventures and 2. a deeper faith. Watch out what you pray for. Seems we got what we asked for but it took longer than we expected. Now we look back and realize that two years would have cut us way short of the amazing blessings God had in store for us. We think about all we would have missed if we had left three years earlier. But we also think about what we missed back home in America during those last three years. Bottom line, what we have discovered is that you can’t live your life to the fullest if you are paralyzed by the past or fearful of the future. All any of us have is this moment right now and we are charged with living in this moment with wisdom and gratitude. What a pity to miss the beauty of the here and now because we are blinded by the “if only’s” or afraid of the “what if’s.” So, with that in mind, we forge ahead with great expectations of the next adventure, deep gratitude for the dear friendships left behind and a fresh wonder of the beauty in each moment. Who knows? Maybe the next blog will be “Colorado Chronicles??”
Happy trails, Kalo Taxidi and God bless,
Melanie and Richard