Firstly, apologies to all for missing the last two weeks; preparations for heading to Cyprus to lead some day-retreats cut into the time for preparing and posting a blog; and having arrived at the Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf’s retreat house at Katifiyio, deep in the Machiaras hills southwest of Nicosia, we had no internet connection. No means therefore to post blogs.
The Greek lady next door was most concerned to hear of Mary’s health problems, and advised fresh thyme tea, ginger root, celery, licorice, to counteract her high blood pressure, and was dismissive of modern pills. The ancient wisdom contained in herbal remedies is widely available in the many monasteries which dot the island, all with a gift shop selling the usual higher (and lower) tat usually associated with Christian sites. (Let me say I am not dismissive of it all, but I draw the line at ‘hand-made icons’ which have obviously rolled off the production line in their thousands).
Along with all this there are rows and rows of dried flowers and herbs, all packeted up with a label bearing witness to their healing properties. In the west this wisdom is largely lost; who will remember the recipe for my grandmother’s raspberry jollop (good for sore throats) once I am dead?
The ancient wisdom with regards to the truths of Christianity is being lost in the west too, with its headlong rush into the short term joys of the shopping religion taking over the whole of our culture. If not that, it’s a dash into the new. ‘Life in all its fulness’- a promise of Jesus- means more than ‘more’, where more is confined to material goods. What price wisdom, serenity, joy- all of which are hard to find at the bottom of a shopping bag, however recondite the label.