Once in a while in life we are able to catch wind of something deep in our bones that God is doing. We feel a breeze brush our skin and realize that if we open our eyes we will see a whirlwind of soul-shifting intention coming at us. And every once in a while, we go ahead and open them…
Ancient Assos is set above this forgotten little fishing village of Behramkale along the Aegean, nestled in a crevice of the sloping and rocky shoreline. It was close to sunset when we arrived and the vehicle we were in could not fit down the winding road, so we opted to walk in the breezy late afternoon air. As we descended, we silently snuck into a former age. Walls of stone and mortar began to meander by dressed in seaside colors of grey and taupe. Once we reached the harbor, a narrow road led off to the left where we could see the name of our hotel set onto the stone of one building. In spite of the impending evening, we settled that if we were going to swim in the sea, now was the only time to do it.
So, we immediately changed and walked along the poky rocks at the water’s edge until we were a little distance from the pier along the harbor upon which sat tables covered over for dining. And we plunged in.
Really, we did it as quickly as we possibly could because slowly languishing in inch by inch felt like torture. There was about one minute in which I truly had trouble catching my breath in the late May chill of the salty water… and then I was free of it. I looked up at the stone town, lights beginning to glow yellow just noticeable in the falling dusk, and behind me at the naturally protected cove of coastline, and tipped my head back, floating for a moment, gazing above at the stretching sky cut short by the rocky rise of mountain… And I thought to myself (in one of those rare moments in life when you find yourself fully aware of the very same rarity)… there is no place I would rather be at this moment than right here in this small crevice of the world with these other small and wonderfully ordinary people. Floating.
That winding road that led down into the town by Assos… the one we walked in on… is named the Way of Love. Paul wrote to the Corinthians that the way of Love is the most excellent way and then describes to them a Love which is a far cry from the twisted and sexualized concept of love that they (and oftentimes, we) worship. The day after visiting Corinth and stewing over clusters of these small thoughts, and floating with it all for a while, I wrote the following in my orange, raggedy journal, scrawled in purple ball pointe:
Sometimes the Way of Love is so easy, so natural to stroll down, like a familiar place, like home. Other times it is inexpressibly difficult, feels time-consumingly futile and takes every ounce of our attention to stay the course. I am grateful for both. The one reminds me that I am made in the image of God, with an immense capacity to give and sacrifice myself daily, and the other reminds me that I am nothing, nothing special, and can do nothing of lasting substance myself. But rather, I become priceless only at the feet of the One who walked this Way first. Please guard my feet like sandals, wrap and protect them and cushion the hard places… But don’t enclose them or restrain them, please… Let them get scratched or grimy with others who are stuck in the mud or when I stumble into the ditch myself. It will call me always back to the cool and cleansing torrent of your love, presence, forgiveness and peace.