Friday, 7 October 2016

Patmos - A Place of Healing for The Soul

This blog has the same title as a book written by Peter France, an inspirational writer who has a home on Patmos. One of his other books, Hermits, I referenced in my Masters' dissertation.

Patmos has been an important part of our life since 1988 when we first visited - it is a magic and healing place and we return as often as we can. It is worth the 48 hour journey. Every year we arrive in the middle of the night and get a warm greeting and smile from the same man who is on night duty in the Hotel Scala where we stay. The morning brings another greeting with a hug from the same lady who lays out the self service breakfast. We then take our trays out to eat on the terrace under the same bougainvillea. We are creatures of habit! Our first eccentricity is to walk to the beach at Agriolivado just over 4 kilometres away. There we rest under the same tamarisk trees, have the same lunch in the taverna there, now run by the great nephew of the man we first met selling grapes from the verandah of his home. Back then in 1988 the taverna food came from a very basic kitchen and was served on tables on the beach itself. Now there is a much more stylish taverna bar and restaurant. The evenings are spent eating at family-run tavernas we have come to favour - now run by the children we have watched growing up. Time passes, patterns of living stay much the same.

The island is dominated by the monastery, an important one in the Greek Orthodox Church. Its spirituality does seem to impact on my thoughts and the sense I make of my life. This year we returned with a gift from the owner of the hotel where we stay - a painting of the view from the hotel up to Hora and the monastery which was part of a series that used to hang in the hotel before its revamp.

Looking up to Hora and the monastery from Skala

There is a story I heard many years ago which reflects what I feel I reconnect with in Patmos - a reminder of what is important.

A Patmosian bay

My story:

Once there was an American businessman who spent his working life building up a successful enterprise, providing for his family and employment for many. His wife and children, however, would have liked him to work less hard, to have seen him more, and to have had holidays with him. He promised his wife that when he retired he would take her on a long trip to visit all the place she wanted to see. And this he did - they set off on their journey of dreams. Yet being the businessman he researched the work and employment of all the places they were visiting. They finally came to a small fishing village on the Mediterranean - the place his wife had most wanted to go. One morning he went for a walk along the coast where he found a fisherman asleep in his boat. He woke him and asked what he was doing to which he was told, resting. So he asked why he was not out catching fish - the reply came "I have done that". The businessman knew that the conditions were favourable for a good catch - so asked why he was not out catching more - and the fisherman replied why would he do that - he had caught what he needed and after his rest he was going to meet his friends to play boules, then go home for lunch and play with his children.

The businessman was unsatisfied. But he could make more money if he continued fishing which would mean he could get a bigger and better boat. Again the fisherman posed the question why would I want to do that?
So you could go out further and catch more.
Why would I want to do that?
Then you could buy more boats and employ others. And then you could build a fish processing plant on the shore and employ even more people ..

To all of his suggestions the fisherman replied why would he want to do that. Then the businessman delivered his final clinching argument:

When you have done all this, you can sell your business at a big profit and retire. Then you can buy a boat and find a good view by the shore, spend time with your wife, children and friends, and play boules ...

For me this story and my time on Patmos remind me of what is important in life and leave me determined to live true to that core. For me that means living my creative life. This year I have returned with the hope of my own exhibition in the Cultural Centre in Scala and work on Patmos-inspired pieces has now started. More news on that later ...

1 comment: