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  • Writer's pictureJanetJoanouWeiner

Fig & Vine: Greece, part 2

Waiting is never easy. At least not for me. In this season of a worldwide pandemic, a prolonged election, mounting terrorism, and so much more, it's tempting to embrace the idea that once this is "all over," everything will be ok. But as time goes on, I believe we're all beginning to see that there's no going back to "normal." And actually, that's always been true. Life moves forward; we change, make choices and grow–now more than ever.

Our second week on Lesvos was meant to be a time of rest. Vacation. And it was but mixed through with a collective unsettledness and continuing awareness of the massive shifts going on throughout the world.

We arrived at our friend's small hotel near the coast on the weekend. Forty minutes earlier, he'd received a call from the local government requesting the use of his building to process 1500 of the island's refugees. Germany has agreed to take them in, which is wonderful. May they truly find new life.

Also, due to covid restrictions in their former location, a humanitarian service set up shop in the apartment below ours. Truckloads of clothes and food arrived in the night and were unboxed and packed in up to the ceiling. Refugees, mostly families, came throughout the following days to "shop" for free, filling the available duffle bags and suitcases with needed items.

Photo: newest refugee camp–tents but no running water, toilets, heat

Refugees have been on the island since 2015, but with the burning of Mória camp in September, plus covid, everything is shifting in an already highly unstable and volatile situation.

We moved for our last few days to clear space for the refugee work and take a break before returning to France. It was nearly impossible to relax with a constant stream of people in need outside your door. We wondered if we could help, but there were plenty of volunteers.

Of course, there were lovely moments mixed through, as is so often true in life. Suffering and joy, struggle and beauty, made all the more poignant by the contrast.

Even as I write, I feel a latent sense of guilt...why do I have such abundance when there's so much lack in the world? There are no easy answers. But I do know that we are designed to live in gratitude for the good gifts we are given. And they are everywhere, large and small, if only we take the time to notice.

Thankfully, we landed in a lovely little Air BnB, with a breathtaking view of the harbor and the Aegean sea beyond. The coast of Turkey, always visible in the distance, caused me to wonder and pray about developments there. Greek and other EU nations' anti-aircraft boats patrol the waters during the night…looking for refugees? Watching out for aggressive actions? 

It occurs to me that we're experiencing the "new normal" in an intense microcosm. International events are visible around us and on our computer screens. We attempt to carry on with our plans for rest, rejuvenation while being aware that the world is in tumult. We listen, learn, watch, and pray. 

Unprecedented challenges mixed with everyday life. Spectacular beauty with questions and uncertainty. Gracious gifts in the midst of it all: an invitation to spend an afternoon with a local family in their elegant winery. 

Oinoforos Lesvos sits high on a hill, with expansive views of the sea…and the new refugee camps below. Natural beauty flowing over and around human misery. Again, more than a bit jarring to relax with our Greek friends and enjoy getting to know our hosts, tasting their wines. But what's the alternative? To sit and stress and worry and wait for "things to change?"

We rest in the tension, maintaining awareness of what's going on around us and entering into the blessings of life, large and small, as they come our way. And for that, we are thankful.

La vie est belle!

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