Day Two. Lentas, Crete
From my journal:
Tuesday, October 3, 2017 (before dinner)
I have learned some things about this land which answer the riddle of why it feels so intrinsically special to me. According to an archeologist, this very spot I am staying at, (which is now a modern yoga resort a 5 minute walk from the village), was a cemetery in the ancient days before christ. (I love that there are things people discuss in the wide open, where they date them to a period ‘before christ’! But I digress.)
I knew this land was sacred! She said the bones have been moved to a new museum, which is expected to open in the next 5 years. I would like to return for that opening celebration.
In ancient Hellenic times, it is my understanding that the town was a port town, but was also a healing site, complete with a Temple to Asclepius, the Grecian God of Medicine. The other women and I will visit the ruins of that Temple tomorrow and hold a small ceremony. I can’t wait.
The thing that really strikes me about being here is the feeling of submergence in the mythic. I am quite comfortable in the mythic, it is my favorite place to reside. LA isn’t particularly mythic by nature, except maybe in Hollywood studios, now that I think of it. That might be the modern equivalent? At any rate, I just love that it’s perfectly natural to visit the platanus tree in Gortyna where Zeus, disguised as a bull, impregnated the abducted Europa! (This is the tree)
I am starting to really like these women, a lot. At first I was shy and unsure of myself. But now I am starting to feel a part of it. It’s a small group, I think 9 of us? They are all remarkable in their own ways, and I have this deep sense that there is so much we can teach and learn from each other. I want to take down the walls I have built around my heart and allow myself to get close to these wise women. They are just so special, every single one of them. It’s funny, they are all older than me, which makes me laugh because I was feeling old before I came here. It’s all relative, I suppose. The one woman, my favorite of the group, has taken to calling me Persephone. It makes my heart sing when she does that.
Oh, this is interesting. In Gortyna, there was a wall of ancient Greek laws in the walls lining the theatre. Conveniently located in the center of town, if you had a dispute with someone, you could both together visit the wall with the laws inscribed and resolve the issue immediately. No need for lawyers or interpreters. It was an empowered and informed citizenry, and how I wish we had more of that now. Knowledge truly is power.
After Gortyna, we visited Phaistos (location of the famed Phaistos Disk). I wish I had taken better notes. The archaeologist leading the tour was a wealth of information that I did not seem to capture. What a shame. I just remember the feeling there; I kept holding my hands in an almost prayerful pose, feeling reverence and calm, curiosity and wonder. I wrote almost nothing down, instead I was just experiencing it.
We ended the day with a swim in the Libyan Sea by way of the Agiofarago Gorge, (Gorge of Saints), which we reached by walking through an area that was once home to hundreds of hermits. The archeologist told us that they believe that for thousands of years hermits lived here in complete isolation in these cliffside caves. They would gather one time every year and that was it.
I have long romanticized the notion of a hermetic life, devoting existence to meditation, art, and pondering the nature of the universe. Something in me is shifting, though, for looking at these caves and being with these women full of life and heart, I am not so sure I want a solitary life any longer. After a couple short days in this little community of wise women, I want more community, sharing, support. I want to bring the experience of sharing back to where I live. How do I do that? Do I start a women’s circle?
J (my friend who is on this trip too) is having a hard time, a family member is in the hospital fighting for his life. I do not know how to comfort her. I put my hand on her back in support and she asked me not to touch her, as that makes her cry. I feel bad for not knowing how to comfort my friend. Having space to think and reflect in this precious time in Crete, I notice myself feeling rejection. If I am not careful, I will pull away from her when she needs support the most. Or maybe she needs to be left alone? Who am I to know what another person needs? How do I support my friend and not give into my ego who is feeling embarrassed and ashamed at not knowing how to comfort her? How can I have lived so long and still have so much to learn about being a good friend?
Later that night, around 8pm
We had a mighty, delicious feast of epic proportions for dinner in a tiny remote village. I think the first ingredient in each of the many dishes that we ate family style was love. I don’t feel so sad right now, I feel nourished and full of energy. Realizing how little I can do from here, I have pulled myself out of the suffering spiral and back into the moment. This beautiful moment, which leads me to think about him…
I do not want to be a stereotype. In fact, I have rebelled against any kind of label my entire life. You expect me to go right, I must go left. Even still, I think I might be a stereotype right now.
I have gone on vacation and fallen in love. Can I call it love? It was all so fast, just last night! I’m definitely falling in something…for a beautiful, handsome man in a village far away from where I live. We met for the first time late last night in a tavern under the waxing moon. We talked and talked at the table of Goddesses and got swept away together. I am not so naive as to think this is nearly as special to him as it is to me, but I allow myself to dream a bit that maybe I am wrong, and perhaps it is special to him too. I brush aside the reality check that this is probably something he does, and I allow my self to tumble on in to the feeling.
We share a birthdate, and I joked that we share a home in the stars. I hope something was lost in translation because that was the most ridiculous thing I have said to him yet! Yikes! Of course I said something so silly. I am scared.
I am so scared. I feel deeply, that’s my way. And because of that, I have locked my heart away for far too long. I witness the intensity of my feelings, as irrational as they are. I just met him! I have fought the urge to write about him all day long, but I cannot resist any longer. I am drunk on the moon and on him. It has been so long since I heard the sound of my own longing being answered. It is so rare to be in that moment of mutual attraction that I am lost in it. Will we meet again tonight? Oh my, what am I doing here? This was supposed to be a meditation retreat, not a secret lovers tryst. What am I doing?