Today I write to you bearing good news . . . . We have safely traveled from Kusadasi, Turkey, to Athens, the heart of Greece. Our morning started as we left our seaside resort at 5:30 a.m. After a short fifteen minute drive, we arrived at the smallest airport I have ever seen. We are talking about checkin, security, corner market, and waiting area all within a single room about the size of two basketball courts. From there, we flew from the island of Samos straight to Athens. That's right, we did it. After more than two weeks of touring two countries, we have arrived at our final destination.
Although I sit safely in this gorgeous city, I must admit I feel in danger. In fact, I wold dare say that this is the most dangerous time of our trip. In danger of what? Not of crime, not of getting pick-pocketed, not of physical harm, but in danger of missing the full picture. The fatigue of traveling is with me at every site. The temptation to tune out the tour guide and dream about returning to the hotel is stronger than ever. The time and distance between al of us and home is smaller than ever. The challenge before me, as I approach the final three days abroad, is to be present and not miss out on the final pieces of the trip. So this is the danger, missing out on the end of our trip.
I'll let you into my mind a little bit. Every time I arrived at a site this last week I had this thought, "Oh . . . great . . . ruins of another ancient Roman city. I guess the last ten weren't good enough." After waking up at 4:00 a.m. this morning and traveling all morning, my thoughts upon our arrival at the Acropolis were no different. Thankfully though, I was walking through thousands of years worth of history. I couldn't help but find myself intrigued and immersed in the ancient world around me.
Our tour guide here in Greece is amazing. Her name is Andie. She is super fun and has incredible amounts of knowledge and wisdom about Greek culture and history. The first place she took us was Mars Hill (see picture below). The biblical story of Mars Hill can be found in Acts 17. In this passage, Paul arrives in Athens and preaches on Mars Hill before the council of Areopagus. Andie made the story come alive by teaching us what life was like for the Athenians during that time. Paul walked into a society that deeply intellectual, critical, and which worshipped the goddess Athena, among others. Athens was physically, spiritually, and physiologically exhausted and Paul came onto the scene believing he could convert them. You can find out how the story plays out for yourself if you want, but the point is, through visiting Athens today I gained a deeper understanding of the biblical world that we find in the New Testament. That biblical world is what we are discovering here everyday. Even in the danger we are facing, we stay safe as we daily take a step deeper into the first century world and find ourselves that much closer to home.