“Oh For a Pair of Clean Dry Warm Socks” by Carol P. Christ

Stories about refugees in the island of Lesbos (where I live) are no longer front page news. Yet according the United Nations Refugee Agency, 12, 742 refugees arrived here in 2017. This number is equivalent to 15% of the year-around population of the island. Though this number is huge, it does not compare to the estimated 91,506 arrivals in Lesbos in 2016. In January 2018, 7572 refugees are estimated to be stranded in the island waiting for their applications for asylum to be processed. The government-controlled reception center has a capacity of 2000, but up to three times that number are being housed there at any one time, in conditions that must be described as inhumane. It is suspected that “someone” in Greece or the European Union is slowing the asylum process in order to discourage refugees from attempting to enter the EU via Lesbos.

Recently I have begun to work with the Starfish Foundation, a local non-profit helping refugees on the island, using my skills as a writer to help with outreach. Today I share with the FAR community a blog I wrote to contextualize the desperation of the situation the refugees find themselves in.

Think about it. Before you go out walking in town or countryside, you put on a pair of clean socks and then a pair of athletic shoes or boots. Your socks, which you take for granted—except when they get wet—protect your feet from blisters, callouses, and foot infections. Now imagine yourself as a refugee or migrant who has come across the wine dark sea, fleeing war. Your socks and shoes are soaking wet when you arrive. If you are lucky you will be given new shoes and socks, but then what happens?

You are taken to a refugee camp to wait for your asylum papers to be processed. While you are waiting, and it could be months or even a year, what happens to your socks? For sure they will get dirty, for you often have to walk on muddy and even sewerage infected paths in the camp. The toilets are filthy and when you have to use them, you try not to step in the muck, but sometimes you do.

You keep on wearing your socks, because you do not have a second pair. One day you decide to wash them and on that day blisters appear on your feet and become infected. You have always been a clean person, washing socks and underwear and all sorts of clothing for yourself and your family every day. But now you are facing the unknown, without even a clean pair of socks to put on your feet.  You bind up your wounds and pray that your one pair of socks will not be stolen from the wire fence where you hung them out to dry.

There is an urgent need for socks in the refugee camps of Lesvos where thousands of refugees wait to learn if they will be granted asylum.  It is hard for us who take our socks for granted to understand the difference a pair of clean dry socks could make in the life of a refugee.  A pair of clean dry socks could make all the difference in the world.

A plea for 300 pairs of socks for men and women from Euro Relief was one of the first postings on Starfish Foundation’s web page Needs Hub,  established  to connect organizations helping refugees on the island of Lesvos with donors. The request for 300 pairs of socks may soon be answered, but the need for socks in the refugee camps is on-going and immense. And socks are only one of the many things—from baby strollers and wheelchairs to shampoo and toothpaste–that the refugees need. Your gift, whether large or small, really could make all the difference in the world to a vulnerable person who needs your help.

Starfish Foundation is a Greek non-profit organization. Founded at the height of the refugee migration to the Aegean islands, which was called the greatest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War, Starfish Foundation works in co-operation with other organizations dedicated to helping refugees and migrants in the island of Lesbos. Please visit Stafish’s web page Needs Hub to learn what you can do. Donate to Starfish Foundation here.


Carol P. Christ is an internationally known writer and educator living in Molivos, Lesbos, who volunteers with Starfish Foundation to assist with writing and outreach. Carol’s new book written with Judith Plaskow, is  Goddess and God in the World: Conversations in Embodied Theology. FAR Press recently released A Serpentine Path: Mysteries of the Goddess. Join Carol  on the life-transforming Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete. Carol’s photo by Michael Honegger

Drowning in the Flood of Migrants and Refugees by Ellen Boneparth

ellen boneparthOn June 22, 2015 Carol Christ translated an article on the refugee crisis in Greece for her FAR blog. I have been visiting Carol in Lesbos this September and have been observing the crisis close at hand.  This blog describes what Carol and I have witnessed and our reactions.


It’s one thing to read about the flood of migrants and refugees to Greece and another thing to see it.

I have been in Lesbos for ten days this past September and have been stunned by the mass of humanity trying to escape war and destruction in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries in the Middle East and Africa.

Continue reading “Drowning in the Flood of Migrants and Refugees by Ellen Boneparth”

Coming Together to Honor the Mother by Carol P. Christ

petra churchcarol-christFrom the evening of the 14th through the day and night of the 15th of August, thousands of pilgrims ascended the Holy Rock of Petra to honor the Panagia—She Who Is All Holy. 

There is “something really beautiful”* in being among them.

Six of us set out from Molivos at 7:30 on the 14th to meet in the square of Petra to ascend to the church.  Petra was already full of so many pilgrims that police had forbidden traffic in the main square and were directing cars into a nearly full parking lot in a field.  When we got out of the car, the two others who came with me and I had a perfect view of the steady stream of pilgrims climbing the rock, which was already lit up in the twilight.

When we found the others, I said that we would climb to the church on the top of the rock where we would light candles and approach the icon of the Panagia to silently pray or express a wish for the coming year.   The others followed me through the square into the winding streets lined with stalls and gypsy beggars to the bottom of the rock.  While we waited for our turn, we saw the sign advising pilgrims of proper dress (read carefully).


Continue reading “Coming Together to Honor the Mother by Carol P. Christ”

Rituals Of Spring and Greek Easter by Carol P. Christ

carol p. christ 2002 colorThough I am not a Christian any more, I don’t want to sit home alone on Easter Day.  Besides being a Christian ritual, Greek Easter is a time to eat lamb with family and friends, and to celebrate the coming of spring by feasting out-of-doors in flowering fields or in a garden filled with flowers, bees, butterflies, and birds.  Such rituals have been celebrated from time immemorial.

lavenderGreek Easter came late this year, only yesterday, May 5.  I prepared for an Easter party in my garden for weeks.  My garden is planted with herbs and aromatics—lavender, thyme, oregano, rosemary, curry plant, rue, sage, cistus, rose-scented geranium, sweet william, cat mint and several other kinds of mint, bee balm, and roses and fruit trees, including lemon, bitter orange, pomegranate, olive, quince, and cherry.  Everything blossoms in spring, attracting bees and butterflies.

purple sageI began weeding and pruning about 6 weeks ago.  This year I had to remove many overgrown lavender plants.  For the last 3 weeks in addition to ongoing weeding and pruning, I have been replanting lavender which I have promised myself to prune “way back” in the fall, along with purple sage, blue daisies, and thyme.  Though there is bare ground in some parts of the garden, in other parts mature plants and trees are in full flower. Continue reading “Rituals Of Spring and Greek Easter by Carol P. Christ”

Bird Watching and Geology in the Body of Goddess by Carol P. Christ

carol p. christ 2002 color

The notion of the earth as the body of Goddess has taken on deeper meaning for me in recent years.  I have felt connected to nature all of my life.  Yet often, though not always, I have related to nature in general rather than in specific ways. Some years ago, after reading Hartshorne’s essay “Do Birds Love Singing?” I stopped for the first time in the wetlands of Kalloni, Lesbos, to see the flamingoes that live in the salt pans there.


One thing led to another, and I met someone with whom I spent the next six weeks visiting every pool and puddle where birds were stopping in Lesbos that spring.  Continue reading “Bird Watching and Geology in the Body of Goddess by Carol P. Christ”


Greece is in the throes of a terrible economic crisis. National elections were called last week and will be held on Sunday May 6.

I am one of the 5 candidates for the Greek Parliament on the Green Party ticket in electoral region of Lesbos. We are a small country of only about 10 million people. The Lesbos district includes about 100,000 people. It is truly amazing that I as an immigrant have been asked to run. It is also amazing that though most of our politicians are corrupt, our electoral system has not yet been completely bought. No polls are allowed during the last 2 weeks of the election. The final poll indicated that the Green Party will have a voice in parliament for the first time on May 7. No Green candidate from Lesbos is likely to become a member of parliament, but all of the votes we gather will be counted towards the party’s total representation. Unfortunately two right wing fascist parties are also likely to get seats, and no party looks poised to gain a ruling majority. What will happen next is anyone’s guess.

Ecofeminist Petra Kelly was one of the founders of the European Green Party of which we are part. Due in part to her good work, the Green Party’s goals include: sustainability, social justice, nonviolence, and participatory democracy. Not a hard platform to run on! Continue reading “WHY I AM RUNNING IN THE GREEK NATIONAL PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS ON MAY 6 by Carol P. Christ”

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