Sunday, September 23, 2012

Turkey Day 4: Diana and St. Johns

I know these posts are going up fast and furious—I haven’t had WiFi all trip. I know they are long and packed with detail, but for the most part this blog is doubling as my journal so the details are important. Thanks for bearing with me. Over and out.
We started the day looking at the red brick ruins of the church of St. John. It is meant to commemorate the area (Ephesus) where John the Beloved is said to have died. Modern revelation tells us that John did not in fact die at all, but was translated—but the Catholic church leaders who built St. John’s didn’t know that. It was a good specimen of a ruin for the most part—we even saw an old circular baptismal font sunk into the floor, probably used for sprinkling but deep enough to stand in, reminiscent of the immersion fonts we use in temples. We had a devotional nearby overlooking the spot that once was graced by the magnificent Temple of Artemis, one of the wonders of the ancient world. All that remains is a single column (much was destroyed and what was intact was used to build St. John’s). We talked about how worldly things are not lasting—the things that “moth and dust doth corrupt,” and so forth. I know it was a pagan institution, but I wish I could have seen the temple of Artemis in its splendor. It must have been breathtaking.
I also got to visit Ephesus today. It’s amazing to think that Paul once walked the same streets we walked and preached to the people who lived in those houses. There were a lot of beautiful restorations, including a bath house (where, yes, we all got out pictures of the ancient Ephesian potties) and an immense library. Only the façade of the library was reconstructed, but was glorious. Of course I’m a sucker for the library, even when there are no books in it.
The best part of Ephesus was the theatre. It was immense—the same seating capacity as the Marriot center. We sat inside and read the story of Paul’s companions being hauled to the theatre by the mob incited by the Diana shrine makers. At the appropriate part we all shouted at the tops of our lungs “GREAT IS DIANA OF THE EPHESIANS! GREAT IS DIANA OF THE EPHESIANS! GREAT IS DIANA OF THE EPHESIANS!” The acoustics in there were incredible, truly. The scriptural account says that Alexander (one of Paul’s companions) raised his hand to make his defense but when the people saw that he was a Jew they drowned him out with their cries. I can imagine how scary and overwhelming it would be to have the entire theatre shouting and screaming overhead with him and the others in the middle of it all, and for several hours. I can also see why they couldn’t do anything about it. Nobody would have been able to get a word in edgewise, let alone a whole defense, over all the commotion. It was so neat to be there, though. Most of the sights we visit are on a basis of something happening nearby or somewhere in that vicinity—but Ephesus has only one theatre, so without question that was the very place where Paul and his companions were assailed by the mob. And I was there, shouting like the mob and reading scriptures and singing hymns of praise. How amazing.
We were able to get back to the hotel at a decent time that afternoon, and we all mutually put on our suits and retreated to the pool for a dip. The Ephesus Princess is a resort-type hotel on the Aegean, so I could have gone to the beach—but I felt I had got in my fair share of saltwater at the last hotel, so freshwater pool it was. Because we were hotel guests, we could go over to the drink bar and ask for any drink we wanted for free. I was leaning toward my old favorite fallback—pina colada—but finally decided to be an adventurer and try something new. I ordered a Cinderella—peach juice, orange juice, pineapple juice, and something else (not sure what—club soda maybe, but no alcohol for sure). It was very sweet and very cold and absolutely delicious. I played Marco Polo and underwater tag with some friends, then joined up with a group practicing synchronized swimming. We had a go at lifting up one of the guys between us—Andrew, who is pretty bit—and actually managed it, but after that ordeal they decided to try with me instead. So I got hoisted by a dozen pairs of hands and just spread my arms and look pretty. We did some other moves as well, and ended up doing a whole routine which included a Neverland Crocodile sequence (if you feel you were missing out, don’t worry—somebody filmed it). Another group that had been practicing in the indoor pool did a routine as well that was a lot better organized than ours. I think I sense a competition in the making when the Jordan and Galilee field trips come around.
After another lovely dinner and beautiful sunset we all turned in. I stayed up and worked on these posts and did some reading and made some phone calls to get someone up to fix our toilet (long story) before turning in. My roommate, Lindsey, is sort of quiet but is a fantastic person—I’m so glad I have had a chance to get to know here.
TTFN! Ta ta for now!

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed reading about Ephesus. It brought back memories of when I went there with my mom and Aaron. The experience in the theatre, reliving Paul's companion's persecution, must have been incredible. I'm sure you got a lot more out of Turkey, with your great teachers and guides, than we did.