By Abigail Castro
Sitting atop Mount Lycabettus, the highest point in Athens, and looking out onto the surrounding city was breathtaking. As I came up the stairs and the view of Athens began to appear over the top of the stone wall, it was like nothing I had ever seen before. The view put into perspective the span of Athens as the buildings gradually rose and spread out as they encroach on the mountain sides. The wind ruffled through my hair, blowing it across my face, and caused my papers to fly up as I wrote across the once crisp pages of my journal. To my right, the sky stretched blue into the ocean; the adjacent islands were dotted with little puffs of clouds. To my left, the sky cried softly leaving drops that evaporated as they touched my skin.
Another group of tourists arrive and the women speak with thick southern accents. As they reach the top of the mountain they slow their ascent up the stairs moving closer and closer towards the railings leaning over as though they are compelled. A mother and son search the skyline for the Olympic stadium and point down toward the ground below. Two other tourists approach them and the mother comments on the man’s Tennessee hat, to which he responds, “Go Vols!” and asks the woman where she is from. The woman says her son went to Tennessee, but they are from just outside Charleston, Virginia. This interaction reminded me of my mother and her family from Kentucky, and it made me feel just a little closer to home.
The church at the top of Mount Lycabettus stood bright against its surroundings, a vivid white in contrast to the city down below. A single sign placed outside the church was etched in Greek and English. It read, “Chapel of Saint George, Lycabettus, Founded In 1834.” It’s door stood open, but inside it was dark, as the shutters blocked out the colorful view of the city and sky. Stepping a few feet into the church the light was gone and the room was dark, dismal almost. I do not sense my God here and step back as a reflex. Back outside, sitting atop the highest point in Athens, I wonder do Greeks find their God here at the Chapel of Saint George amongst the clouds?
Though I do not feel him in their church, I sense him as I stand atop this mountain. A feeling of peace floats down as a blanket over my body after two days of my mind attacking itself feeding the void of anxiety. I have been lost, seeking my home and my family, but reaching out to grasp this presence of God, I breathe a sigh of relief. I am whole again, rejuvenated and revitalized here in this place in the sky. As I prepare to leave the beautiful scene before me a butterfly appears, yellow and black dancing, weaving between visiting spectators.