It wasn’t really fire. I came home to Lesbos from a soulful Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete and a discouraging emergency meeting of the Green Party Greece totally exhausted and wanting nothing more than to rest. It was the hottest June on record and my house with its many windows felt like a furnace. Due to a dispute with the installer, it took eleven days to get the air-conditioning fixed. My little dog who could see when I left for Crete, was blind when I returned. I wondered if I would have to put her down and could not bear the thought. I was so tired and so hot that I could not think straight. It was beyond my capacity to even consider moving to a hotel. I didn’t have the energy to unpack. And I didn’t have a car as the old one had been sold and the new one was still at the dealership in Crete. So I couldn’t escape. Instead I tried to hold back tears.
After the air-conditioning was finally fixed, I was able to unpack, wash my clothes, and repack for my return to Crete. The night before I was to leave, I jumped the St. John’s day (midsummer) fires. The locals say they jump the fires for fertility (jumping fires does warm the nether parts) and health. In the photo I am sitting at a table directly behind the first fire, but I soon got up and jumped all three of them, affirming the powers of birth, death, and regeneration.
It is now nearly two weeks since I arrived back in Crete with the little dog the vet says has a very strong heart–in more ways than one, I would say. I picked up my “like new” white Suzuki Jimny hardtop and drove hesitantly to Pachia Ammos where I will spend the summer. At first I was too tired to do much of anything. I sat on the balcony or on the couch staring out to the sea that was almost close enough to touch, feeling a sense of peace I had not known in years.
I read three thick Irish novels, one of them by Maeve Binchy and the others inspired by her, in three days. Every hour or so I got up to reorganize the apartment to make it comfortable for me. I could only manage about ten minutes at a time.
The first thing I did was to hang the Tree of Life sculpture that called to me when I saw it in a shop in Krasi, Crete, home to a very old plane tree with roots in an underground river fed by a spring, on the recent pilgrimage. For me it symbolizes new beginnings, strength, and the renewal of life. Feather pillows, floral couch cushions, and other treasured items emerged the duffel bags where I had stored them, things of use and beauty. Slowly the apartment became my home.
Little Sarah sniffs her way slowly around the new space, finding her way. I am becoming used to carrying what I lovingly call “a ten pound sack of potatoes” when I take her with me to the nearby tavernas.
Last week the wind blew a gale, but this morning the sea was placid and cool and free of the plastic that comes in with the winds. (Yes we must do something about plastic pollution, not to mention the Greek government’s plan to let ExxonMobil drill for oil in the sea around Crete. This is why I am a still member of the Green Party Greece, despite all of its internal problems. Left-wing Syriza affirmed the plans to drill for oil crafted by center-right New Democracy, over Green Party opposition.)
My goals for the summer are to regain the strength of my body by swimming, walking, and doing yoga every day; to get a Greek drivers’ license; and to create a permanent home in Crete. My friend Breedge and I swim in the early mornings; I do yoga between breakfast and lunch; I have reconnected with friends I made over the past year and am making new ones.
I am restored in beauty.
Carol P. Christ is an internationally known feminist writer, activist, and educator currently living in Pachia Ammos, Crete. Carol’s recent book written with Judith Plaskow, Goddess and God in the World: Conversations in Embodied Theology, is on Amazon. A Serpentine Path: Mysteries of the Goddess is on sale for $9.99 on Amazon. Carol has been leading Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete for over twenty years: join her in Crete. Carol’s photo by Michael Honneger.
Listen to Carol’s a-mazing interview with Mary Hynes on CBC’s Tapestry recorded in conjunction with her keynote address to the Parliament of World’s Religions.