Recently the online world has been filled with images of people in desperate conditions, images not from Pakistan or Syria but from the Greek islands closest to Turkey: Chios, Lesbos, Leros. One picture showed a migrant raft landing near sunbathing tourists on Kos, an island I once knew well. It was a way station on my yearly visits to the nearby island of Patmos, where St. John was once a refugee himself. I went there to visit another immigrant to Greece: a spiritual poet named Robert Lax, who was Thomas Merton’s best friend.
When I travel, I like to bring treasures home with me. I have four carved wooden masks I bought in Kenya, and one of the Buddha I found in Katmandu. I have an eyeglass case made out of frog skin from China, a prayer rug from Turkey, and two woven reed baskets from Ethiopia. I collected so much booty in Israel that I had to ship it home in three separate boxes.
Churches in Athens have been told by Archbishop Christodoulos, head of the (Orthodox) Church of Greece, to organize Bible readings in modern Greek. The move reflects concerns that worshipers do not know the old form of the national language traditionally used in services.
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