Today’s been another great day… a bit slower than most of the past two weeks. After a 7 AM wake-up and a quick breakfast, 2/3 of our group grabbed taxis to the south-west corner of the island. Our destination was a beach called Psili Ammos.
Our taxis dropped us at the end of the road, from which we started our 45-minute hike on a goat trail weaving over and around the rocky hills, and through the rugged vegetation (many prickly!) that cover them. When we arrived at the beach, we were completely alone.
If we’d wanted just a place to swim or sun ourselves, we could have saved some trouble. One of the island’s most popular beaches is mere minutes from our hotel. But we didn’t go to this one for swimming or sunning—we had a specific exercise in mind: A group reading of the book of Revelation. Besides Patmos being the island where John received his visions, Psili Ammos is thought by many to be the shore on which John stood when he beheld the vision of a beast coming from the sea. The text makes mention of John standing on the “shore”, with some pointing out that the word carries with it the idea of sand. There are only two spots on Patmos that are sandy shores. Most speculate this site to be the more likely of the two options.
And so we sat on that sand.
Reading a half-dozen verses each, around and around our circle we went. Did you know it only takes 45 minutes to read all of Revelation? And that’s out-loud reading. I’m not saying one needs to read 20+ chapters of Scripture a day, but as we moved through the text, it did occur to me that I should really shut my mouth anytime I’m tempted to say, “I don’t have time for that.”
As we read, I also thought this several times: “Huh? Have I read this before?” And yes, I have. I know I have. I’ve read Revelation at least a few times in its entirety. But it is a different thing to read a Bible book from start to finish in one setting. It flows better than when you chop it all up—imagine that!
The group that I’m traveling with has people from all over the board in terms of denominational backgrounds and experiences. Enough of them come from traditions more liturgical than mine that we’ve adopted some of their practices in our devotional times. One of them is this: Whenever we read Scripture, it’s followed up by Charles saying, “This is the word of the Lord,” to which we reply, “Thanks be to God.” I like that. It sets the Scripture apart, as though they’re worthy of our highest levels of attention, as if the reading of these words is different than any of the other words that enter our ears today—and it should be that way. Somehow, after reading the whole of Revelation, those words just seemed even more appropriate. “This is the word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.”
After a few quiet moments, we simply transitioned into our free time: Swimming in the Aegean Sea. Yesterday, our Greek guide (named Nicholas, of course!) said this exact sentence: “If I had to characterize the waters of the Aegean, I would say that they are always refreshing.” Nicholas was very articulate, with great English, so I trusted him. What I found out this morning is that “refreshing” means flipping cold! Once the point of numbness was surpassed, refreshment was found… if hypothermia didn’t get you first!
Our “polar bear plunge” was followed by a hike back to the taxis, which returned us to town. The rest of the day was ours to do with as we pleased. My “as I pleased” was simple: Eat and drink something good, browse the town on foot, check out the shops, and get a bit of computer/book time. I’m just nearing the end of my list as I type this, and it’s just coming up on 5 PM. Supper isn’t until 8 PM (yes, the Greeks like later suppers too, it seems), so time is on my side for now!
Tomorrow will see us return to the Turkish mainland and continue our path back towards Istanbul. We fly from there only 7 days from now, so it’s time to make sure we’re grabbing all we can from this trip—and I’m not talking about souvenirs.
Wishes of peace from the land of Patmos!