A Letter From the Church at Ephesus
Trip Start May 19, 2012
79Trip End Ongoing
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So this morning did come way too early, rolling out of bed at 6 after not really getting a chance to catch up on sleep, but so it goes. We had to be on a bus towards the airport at 6:45, so that was time to get breakfast and packed up for the day. It was a productive couple hours in the airport and on the plane, knocking out a little homework that had backlogged and getting another small meal on a 45 minute Turkish airways flight. Still, it was strange planning to fly out and back in the same day to a city you've only been in for about 28 hours, but I suppose that's how Holy Lands works. We flew into Izmir, the home town of both our Turkish tour guide Oz and Homer (perhaps not entirely coincidental-I found out in a later conversation that Oz studied as a playwright in university), which is about an hour's drive from the ancient city of Ephesus. One of the more mortifying things of the trip happened about the time I got onto our bus I realized that I had left my iPhone under the seat on the plane and there was nothing I could do about it
Fortunately, few things can perk you up like a drive along the Aegean Coast to a huge awesome ancient city. The Turkish country side is really something to behold; it's a good bit more rugged than the good agricultural land in Israel but more agricultural than the mountainous spine there. It'll show up in the landscape of a few pics probably. We arrived in Ephesus around 11:30, which my body, on JUC time, interpreted as just about lunch time, but was a solid 3 hours away from it. Still, I can think of worse ways to spend 3 hours. Ephesus was the 4th largest city in the Roman Empire, one of the richest, and one of the most culturally influential. A few high points: the temple to Artemis at Ephesus was one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world, the Celsus Library was the 2nd largest in the ancient world, the amphitheatre could seat 25,000, the 3rd Ecumenical Council, one that articulated some of the important ways we think about the Trinity and the nature(s) of God, was hosted in Ephesus, and we some of the best preserved Roman Terraced houses were found there. In short, it's a city with a lot to offer and one that I loved walking around. When asked the entirely unfair question over dinner what was my favorite part I had to reply the library, because even though it was broken down a lot, you could see how impressive a structure it was in its heyday and because hey I'm a nerd
We eventually left Ephesus for lunch, which was about the only thing which could make me want to leave, because at that point the energy level of the group was running very low. Fortunately lunch was awesome, even if it started around 2:30. We finished with enough time to run to St John's Basilica (home of the traditional and not entirely improbable grave of the apostle John) and the Archaeology Museum, which again we only had about 30 minutes at and which again was not nearly enough time. This time we were on arguably an even tighter schedule because we had a flight to catch at 7 back to Istanbul. If there's something nagging at the back of your mind as to why this day was less than great in spite of all this, it's because, as you'll recall, I lost my iPhone (read, lifeline) earlier. If you want to know why today turned out to be great, it's because some wonderful stewardess found it and put it in lost and found, where, with the help of Oz and God (probably not in that order) I got it back. There was a little party in my chest. Flight back was uneventful, got done some journaling, and then it was back to the hotel for a late dinner, which didn't get on the table until about 9:15. Still, as has been the norm, it was delicious and almost worth waiting for. Then I sat downstairs in the lobby, not feeling particularly like buying desert to justify my sitting in a coffee shop, and wrote this blog.
Tomorrow should be yet another awesome day. We start the day in another museum, then have an audience with either the Ecumenical Patriarch or one of his representatives. Once again, to my readers who might not be inclined to think this is a big deal, this is a big deal; when you read Ecumenical Patriarch, think Pope of the Eastern Church. After him we're looking at lunch, a stroll through the grand bazaar, and a boat ride across the Bosporus. These days just keep getting better. I think that's as good a benediction as any, so peace, blessings, and may your days just keep getting better.