Time and Olive Oil Heal All Wounds

Now that I have returned to the United States (briefly) I have had a bit of time to reflect on my experiences in Greek culture. There are a few aspects of my experience that have stuck out more than others.

First is the emphasis on creation. The Greeks have achieved so much in the way of creation, even when they had no power tools or vehicles to aid them. I was constantly in awe of the beautiful creations made by ancient Greeks, and the abundance of these creations. Great temples like the Parthenon and the Temple of Zeus in Athens were breath-taking, not only because of their beauty, but because of the implication of hard work that went into their construction. It made me sad to realize how little we Americans have focused on creation just for the sake of creating, and how the focus is constantly on consumption, productivity, and ultimately money.  I was really in awe of the many ancient structures we had the opportunity to see. In some ways, it made me feel empowered. Surely if ancient civilizations could construct such great statues and temples, I can do anything.


Another great perspective of this creation obsession was in the Orthodox churches. Churches were significantly more extravagant than any Christian church I have ever seen. I have mixed feelings on this. Part of me feels like God would not wish for his people to put such a focus on appearance and precious metals, but that God would want a simpler church and a focus on experience with God. However, another part of me was intrigued by the idea of the decoration as an act of worship. Putting large amounts of gold and silver in a church seems a bit sacrificial, as that gold and silver could have been used for personal benefit elsewhere. Also, putting all of that time and energy into manually decorating the church (especially with hand paintings) seems in itself an act of worship. It shows how dedicated the Orthodox church was. I still haven’t decided which feelings are strongest for me, and whether I like the extravagant churches or not.


Another aspect of Greek culture that stuck out to me was the simplicity. People seemed to overall have less concerns. There was plenty of marketing, but materialism hadn’t taken over Greece the way it has taken over America. Maybe part of that is the hardships the Greeks have faced in recent years, but it was refreshing to see people so personable and not concerned with building huge mansions, owning tons of land, or swindling the most amount of money out of each other.

A major aspect of this trip that also stands out to me as I think back and reflect is the depth of Greek history. I found it very humorous when our tour guides referred to structures built before the birth of America as “modern”. Greece has had a much lengthier, richer history. Pre-established America has only genocide. It was so intriguing to dig so far back into history to before the times of Jesus and see 2400 year old temples and 2600 year old lions, and to dissect the complexity of ancient civilizations that evolved to today’s societies.


Now, I am back in America (although I am currently 30 feet from the Caribbean Sea in the Virgin Islands….) and I will not be in the presence of such amazing things for a long time, and I already feel withdrawal. I think I have found a new hunger to observe and understand cultures so important and so ancient.

Thank you, Greece. It was real, and it was fun, and it was real fun. We out.


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