I found rest, joy, calm, beauty…
I found a simplicity…simplicity that was confounding. It was both good and challenging. I saw eyes defiantly filled with hope and yearning yet shrouded in impossibility. And there were eyes of suspicion – wrought iron eyes where the flicker of hope hasn’t been in years, if it ever existed.
We live on the divided island of Cyprus on the South/Greek side of the island. We recently vacationed on the North/Turkish Occupied Territory of North Cyprus – an article on the division here. We often hear the side of the Greek Cypriots about the atrocities that were committed in 1974 by the Turkish forces who mercilessly invaded – these stories bear much truth. But, is there ever one side of any conflict story that reigns solely in truth? In the North we saw evidence of equally horrific atrocities including the slaughter of unarmed Turkish Cypriots by Greek Cypriots. It seems one person’s illegal invasion is another person’s rescue from oppression – watch a graphic video from the Turkish Cypriot point-of-view here.
My point in bringing this up is that we experienced the other side of the island this last week – and, it was, for the most part, breathtakingly good. The Karpaz peninsula of Cyprus, where we stayed, is the end of the world in some sense. It is where life has remained simply stagnant and wonderful at the same time since 1974 – or longer. The villages reminded me of remote Mexican villages with open doors, open shutters, children playing with whatever lies around, an occasional scraggly dog, people joining together in the semi-cool evening to have coffee, chat and watch the last of the day go by. The simplicity of life here is beautiful.
I met a man, K, who is a Turkish Cypriot – one born in Cyprus – not an invader (people like him made up approximately 1/3 of the population before the invasion). His eyes were kind and full of hope. It is inconceivable. This man, born on this remote peninsula, had the energy and vitality of someone about to take on the world without limitations. In his late twenties or so, his “world travels” as he called them, consisted of entering the south side of Cyprus twice, only to be turned back. He worked as a waiter at a barely alive resort in the North. Yet, this man, while longing for conversation, had hope that was palpable. It strikes me that he wasn’t delusional. He seems to have made a conscious decision to veil his life in hope, in spite of the desolate reality in terms of job prospects and opportunity. Regarding faith, he was searching – born into the dominant religion of the region – he was seeking. So, perhaps his hope wasn’t in the unlikely prospect of employment and world travel. But, perhaps it was that he would find his purpose and place in a kingdom. He has my email address. I hope he uses it.
We spent time on the beach, in the sun and let our minds and bodies just come to a place of rest. The sound of waves crashing, the feel of the sea breeze and the warmth of the sun – these have restorative powers that come from above. The God of creation planned these things for His glory and our blessing. It had been far too long since we enjoyed this. The kids chased crabs, snorkeled, dug in the sand and were free to romp around unencumbered on the beach. This was as good for Sarah and I as it was for them. To see our kids experience joy in this land that isn’t their own produced a joy in our hearts.
We now enter back in to life, ministry and work with skin temporarily stained from the sun, minds clear and bodies weary from joy and adventure. We find ourselves with a new appreciation of our home that feels even more so. My office chair seems ready for intense work. Our perspective has been realigned and reset to the reality of living under the reign of a King who loves us.
It’s good to be back.