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ITHAKA ON THE HORIZON: A Greek-American Journey



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    Saint Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, Saco, Maine, USA 10-12 July 2009

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    The Patriarchal Theological Seminary of Halki is located on the Turkish island known as Heyelbiada in the Bosporus straits. It was closed in 1971 by the Turkish government and is the subject of much controversy since it is the only seminary in Turkey and the position of Ecumenical Patriarch can only be filled by a Turkish citizen. Sign the petition to reopen it at

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24 July 2007



So nice to know someone is having a good holiday in Greece!

We've had two dramatic encounters with hospitals in Greece. First when a (British) godson cracked his head open falling from rocks on day one of the holiday and I had to use my rudimentary Greek to find a doctor and then a hospital an hour away, and then when my delerious daughter had suspected meningitis and my husband had to race with her in a taxi to the Athens Children's Hospital five hours away. Makes my hair stand on end even thinking about the latter. Both children survived, received excellent care, nobody needed a bribe, and nobody ever asked how we were going to pay, or asked us to produce any papers...

Still enjoying reading Markides, btw. Even tempted as a result to go to a "Taize" service at a nearby church. So beautiful and so peaceful, lit only by candles and the long stretches of the evening sun through leaded windows. Tiny congregation, of about ten people.

I had been meaning to go there for ages.


I'm glad you took time to write a post and let us know how your visit to Greece is going. While I was reading, I flashbacked to times when the "Greek reality" was only a temporary charm lasting a few weeks or a month. Now it's 24/7 and not so charming.

It doesn't surprise me that you went off on a tangent regarding healthcare. It's easy to tangent because time in Greece inevitably has its moments, even if it is vacation.

Will be e-mailing you, but the dates you mentioned sound absolutely fine. :)



What a beautiful church. I always like evening vespers when our church is lit only by the candles and the fading light. Have you read both Makrides books or are you still working on the first?

Speaking of vacations, hope you have a great one in Colorado.


I love it when a plan comes together. I will let you know the exact time. Look forward to meeting new and old friends.



Thank you for your holiday wishes. My elder daughter came home from the mall (:)) with a cowboy hat today, so I guess we're all getting in the mood, though my younger vegetarian animal-loving daughter resolutely refuses to countenance the idea of a rodeo next Friday ...

I'm reading the second Markides book and have almost finished it. I've been reading his book about the Magus too which is a bit different ... I'll let you know what I think properly when I've finished both books on Orthodox spirituality. I've also been reading a couple of books by Kallistos Ware which are fascinating and provoking on Universal Orthodoxy! I'm looking forward to my Greek friend coming back from her holidays in Greece so we can have some interesting discussions ...

The area around our house here is full of early Roman and Christian history (and one of the most famous USAF sitings of a UFO). A few miles away is the Anglo Saxon burial site, Sutton Hoo, supposedly containing the remains and treasure of the Anglo Saxon king, Raedwald who controlled his kingdom from here and converted to Christianity. Venerable Bede, writing almost contemporaneously in the early 8th century, described Raedwald's settlement as having a great wooden hall. The ancient field name on early maps of the land at the bottom of our garden is Great Wooden Hall Field. The church is on the far side of the field. My husband, being first a historian, enjoys imagining that Raedwald's settlement was here. The land owner will not allow the land to be excavated so it remains just an exciting thought or hope, but one that offers the potential of a spiritual connection with very early Christians. A rationalist would see St Gregory's church as just stones, but I find it hard to believe that it is just that.

We enjoy hill walking and came across several beautiful isolated churches in the Mani, often high up in the hills overlooking the sea. Agia Sophia, a couple of kilometres into the maquis up a cobbled donkey road behind Kardimyli will always be a favourite. A simple, small, whitewashed structure, hardly ever used for services but still harbouring the history of hundreds of prayers.


Stavros, you might be interested in this article.

Some of the works of the aforementiond Hellenic architects and artists

And a good article on Russian presidential hopefuls and Orthodoxy.



I'm writing from a small Internet cafe in a place called Palia Loutsa, an Athenian getaway for the downtrodden such as yours truly. The weather is tolerable today, below 40 C., however the last few days have been a diificult adjustment. I've befriended a small fan which usually sits close by and makes things bearable. The cafe offers a bit of air conditioned comfort and affords me the opportunity to check email. Most of the other customers here are adolescents who spend their time playing various online games and snicker at my constant two fingered typing. I'm sure they are muttering under their breath: "what's this guy possibly got to write about?"

I envy your trip to Colorado, a place I've never been able to visit but certainly look forward to seeing someday. In fact, there is a Greek Orthodox monastery right outside Denver at the foot of the Rockies named after St George that I would like to visit for the sole reason of talking again to a priest-monk there named Christodoulos. I met him in Maine and was quite impressed by him. So much so that I am contemplating a trip someday. Father Christodoulos spent ten years in a monastery on the island of Rhodes until he was summoned to Colorado to start a monastery at the request of Bishop Isaiah of Denver. Orthodox Monastacism in America is making amazing strides and I pray that it continues to thrive and grow in our country.

Your descriptions of Mani interest me, especially since many of my friends in Maine have roots there. Perhaps next time when they plan to join us. This year we are planning to visit the island of Aegina where the church of St Nektarios is located. I just finished a book about his life and plan a future post about him. We will also visit the Mount Olympus area. I'm also planning a side trip to Ioannina. I'll keep everyone posted.

The English countryside and history have always held a special fascination for me. Probably because I enjoy Jane Austen. That's not the kind of thing an ex-Marine often admits too. I spent some time training with the Royal Marines a long time ago and unfortunately I spent most of my time off duty in pubs and not enough of it exploring the delightful countryside of southern England. Your historian husband is lucky to live in Great Britain where you can't help but bump into history at every turn. That's one of the reasons I find Greece so entertaining.

Please tell you animal friendly daughter that American rodeos are much tougher on their human participants unlike Spanish bullfights.

Take care, hope each member of your family finds something worthwhile in Colorado,




Thanks for the links.


Glad to see you're enjoying your holiday. I liked the bit about your pethera and the bikini. I understand you may be meeting up with our mutual friend, the USAF LtCol. Tell him hi from us and that we hope to see him one day soon as well!


Antigone Sis,

I will be meeting with our mutual friend tomorrow. I will relay your greetings. All my best to you and your family.

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  • Keep Ithaka always in your mind. Arriving there is what you're destined for. But don't hurry the journey at all. Better if it lasts for years, so you're old by the time you reach the island, wealthy with all you've gained on the way, not expecting Ithaka to make you rich. Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey. Without her you wouldn't have set out. She has nothing left to give you now. And if you find her poor, Ithaka won't have fooled you. Wise as you will have become, so full of experience, you'll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean. C. P. Cavafy


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