I've owed this post to you for a long time. Way back in November - like, in the BT days (Before Trump) - I travelled to Athens, Greece with about two dozen other North American women who live and work in Europe. This is the second such spiritual retreat I've been on, where you awake to sounds of the ocean, spend a good portion of the day journalling and/or weeping openly, and laugh until your sides hurt with women you've only just met.
Last time, we were in the Costa Brava area of Catalonia, Spain (which was simply stunning), but this time we were in Vouliagmeni, Greece on the Athenian Riviera.
The most important thing I should probably tell you about a trip like this is that it isn't all spas and swimsuits (though there were some late night dips in the Aegean). These retreats are more like spiritual workshops, with an emphasis on connecting with God and one another. We worship and pray together, laugh and eat together, and share with one another in the spirit of imago dei: we reflect the image of God to each other, and we name it, honour it, and explore it. We also spend a good deal of time on our own, journaling or resting or doing whatever it is our spirits - and our bodies - need. Sometimes that's a nap, other times it's a very dark, very strong cappuccino freddo.
We also spent one glorious afternoon and evening in Athens, exploring some of the sites and relics that have so haunted our worldview and our faith. Some of the more neighbourly facades in Athens felt more Parisian than I'd expected, with terraces and flourishes adorning windows and doors all along the pedestrian boulevards.
And we ate. Sweet Lord, oh how we ate. I have to tell you that "gyro" just doesn't do justice to the souvlaki I inhaled without a second thought. The food in Greece was absolutely sublime: rich, fresh and sweet.
In many ways, Athens reminded me of the trip I took to Israel at the ripe old age of 19. The landscape seemed to prod and prompt me, shouting, "See, see? It's all true!" And for a Christian lady who feigns uninterest in the Acts of the Apostles, standing atop Mars Hill overlooking the rooftops of this ancient city filled me with an otherworldly longing.
So that's as brief of an overview of my time in Greece that I could attempt. It was definitely a bucket-list destination, and I highly recommend a visit -- for the food, if nothing else! (did I mention fried feta, filo pastry and honey? Yummm....)