Santorini Nancy
Nancy, with Santorini as her stunning backdrop.

Santorini

 

The only time I ever got motion sickness was in a helicopter as the pilot kept turning it in circles over the coast of the Big Island of Hawaii. He wanted the passengers on both sides of the copter to get a good view of the lava pouring into the ocean. It was an amazing sight, but I felt a bit queasy for the rest of the outing.

Some of the most gorgeous places in the world were created by cataclysms like volcanoes. In fact, the Big Island of Hawaii is still being formed by two volcanoes—Mauna Loa and Kilaua.

Perhaps the most stunning island that I have ever seen was formed by what scientists believe was one of the largest volcanic eruptions in history. This volcano erupted on the island of Thera sometime between the years 2000 and 1000 BC, wreaking widespread havoc. Today, that Greek island is called Santorini, and it is a major tourist draw. If you’ve ever seen postcard photos of the otherworldly white buildings with blue roofs beside the blue Mediterranean, you were probably looking at the island of Santorini.

Some say the Santorini eruption inspired the legend of the lost civilization of Atlantis. And some historians believe the island’s massive eruption contributed to the destruction of the Minoan civilization on the nearby island of Crete.

As the Minoan civilization vanished, the ancient civilization of Mycenaean Greece rose up out of the ashes. You know the Mycenaean Greek civilization as the setting for the most famous stories about ancient Greece—the Iliad and Odyssey with heroes like Achilles and Odysseus.

Which brings us to the topic of coming home.

The story of the Greek hero, Odysseus, was all about his attempt to find his way home after the fall of Troy (the city of Trojan Horse fame). It took Odysseus 10 years to get home, and I think when he finally got there, his luggage was lost. When I read about how his voyage home kept getting foiled by giants and sea serpents and monster whirlpools, I decided I would never again complain about airplane delays and long lines in security. Odysseus had to battle a one-eyed giant called the Cyclops, and all I ever had to deal with was getting my carry-on luggage inspected by a one-eyed scanning machine.

Santorini DougOdysseus’s return home initially didn’t go so well because he came back to find his wife being threatened by men who wanted to marry her. But, fortunately, my returns home have gone much better. In fact, I have to say that as much as I love seeing stunning places like Hawaii and Santorini, there’s nothing like pushing open the back door of our house, where we’ve lived for 30-some years, and walking inside.

If it’s been a long trip, the house feels strangely different. It feels familiar, of course, but there’s also a new feeling, almost as if I had never seen my home before. Trips will do that for you. They are fun, but they also give you an appreciation of home. You see your home in a fresh, new way, and I think heaven will be a bit like that.

Heaven will be new and amazing, but I suspect it will also feel like coming home. We were created to live in heaven, and our time on Earth is like taking a very long trip to a land with volcanoes and monsters and great beauty too. Our journey through this life is like Odysseus bouncing from Greek island to Greek island on his way home, or Moses and the Israelites wandering in the wilderness before finally reaching the Promised Land.

SantoriniHeaven is our Promised Land, and when we pass through those gates, we may have that same mixture of feelings, both new and familiar, that we get when we cross the threshold of our house.

Homesickness can be even worse than motion sickness, but there’s no better antidote for what ails us than coming back to where we truly belong.

By Doug Peterson

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