Suspended in air

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June 24th 2008
Published: June 24th 2008
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from the root word Meteoros "to be suspended in air"

we came in the night
Lights were trained on the rocks and it looked like fog to our tired eyes
we logged an 18 hour day and 400 some km
and as we approached we realized the scale of the rocks watching over these towns

seeing pictures of this place before we came here made it look like cliffs by the sea
but we are not so near the shore
and the masses of rock are parts of an ancient inland sea thrust up between more
docile hills and mountains millions of years ago

metamorphic rock
fist sized stones
are clearly seen naturally cemented into the rocks
at eye level
but i cannot acurately describe to you how towering they are
pock marks and caves dot their sides from where water
eroded out the softer shale and sandstone
and in the 11th century
monks lived in the caves

an ideal place for a solitary retreat

it feels godly/holy/sacred
the rocks stand stoically
but looking at them
you can feel the energy and motion
it took to shove them up so high

in the 15th century the monks,
with ample funding,
moved out of their humble caves
built monastaries atop some of the most
precarious perches
only to be reached by rope ladder
and net and pulley systems
extensive fighting in the region from the incoming Turkish invasion
made these secluded retreats the perfect place to
get away from it all

2.5 million visitors
swarm the 6 monastaries still in use(one is a nunnery, spelled "nannery" on the road sign)
on the paved roads and sturdy bridges
every year
as dad said, "a real practice in compassion for distraction"

building the monasteries and churches and courtyards seemed
to have brought these monks back to civilisation
all of the pomp and opulance
gold thread
and shiny priest hats
and painfully ornate frescoes of the torture and death of saints
fill the museums and chapel

the perfect place to remove oneself from
and it's filled with loud-mouth, scantily clad visitors
every day of the week but one
they have simple wrap around skirts, for women in pants and too-small skirts
and pants for
men in shorts

and instead of paying tithes
you buy religious memorabilia
in the monastery gift shop
i felt compelled to do the same
in a fit of appreciating
material spiritualism
and got a mini wooden double door
with mary and child on one side
and saint george on a horse on the other
what did st. george do?

although the visit to one monastery
in the heat of the day
crammed in with 18 too-big tour busses and drowning in a swamp of a french tour group
(2 minutes in each vestibule
10 minutes in the gift shop)
left me cranky and angry at humans
we ventured back up the switch backs in the evening
when it finally cooled down
and had a view of all six monasteries
and the rocks
and took a timed family photo which i'm sure will be on the next christmas card
although it's one of these places that is
un-capturable on film
and illicits
"this is so cool!" every five minutes

mom and i will venture out
in the morning for a trail that
winds through town
and to the base of
Big Rock
and a monastery which is not in use
we'll swing back to get Em and Dad
she's sick
and his knee is waiting to be replaced
and go to the biggest monastery
hopefully before the crowds
and then head to Thessoloniki
3 hours away

love and towering rock


28th June 2008

St. George
One Story: It happened that the lot fell on the king's daughter. The king, distraught with grief, told the people they could have all his gold and silver and half of his kingdom if his daughter were spared; the people refused. The daughter was sent out to the lake, decked out as a bride, to be fed to the dragon. Saint George by chance rode past the lake. The princess, trembling, sought to send him away, but George vowed to remain. The dragon reared out of the lake while they were conversing. Saint George fortified himself with the Sign of the Cross, charged it on horseback with his lance and gave it a grievous wound. Then he called to the princess to throw him her girdle and put it around the dragon's neck. When she did so, the dragon followed the girl like a meek beast on a leash. She and Saint George led the dragon back to the city of Silene, where it terrified the people at its approach. But Saint George called out to them, saying that if they consented to become Christians and be baptised, he would slay the dragon before them. The king and the people of Silene converted to Christianity, George slew the dragon, and the body was carted out of the city on four ox-carts. "Fifteen thousand men baptized, without women and children." On the site where the dragon died, the king built a church to the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint George, and from its altar a spring arose whose waters cured all disease. - Might be one reason why Mary and George are together- I Love you Charlotte

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