The landscape was absolutely lovely. It's springtime in Ephesus
Olive groves, tangerines, oranges, peaches all at or nearing blossom stage. Oh, and the occasional donkey feasting near a fruit tree. I asked the young man if this grotto was worth visiting and he assured me it was. He said he would walk with me until I was ready to be alone, so we asked each other the usual questions.... he was a resident of Selcuk and worked in hotels. He explained the Seven Sleepers a bit to me as we neared it after a long hot walk down a slightly winding road.
According to legend, and the young man... (before I had read the sign... so there is some slight disparity) there were six boys and a dog that ran away from some soldiers who were trying to kill them because they were Christians. They blocked themselves into the cave and dug graves then fell asleep in the graves only to awake two hundred years later. Upon their resurrection, many came to believe in Jesus Christ and eternal life. When the boys aged, and died again, they were re-buried at the same site. It has become a place of pilgrimage for many. The sign tells a slightly different story, seven young boys and a dog, but I can accept it either way. It was indeed special. http://www.kusadasi.biz/historical-places/seven-sleepers.html and like many places here... had an aura of holiness about it.
At this point, I wanted to be alone, to sit and think and have a glass of wine. The young man was heading into the hills on a path that was not tourist, so we parted company. I sat for a while and had a my wine and some gozleme and pondered life and death and how oral traditions can keep history alive for thousands of years. I also thought about my faith and the history of the place where I was sitting.
I left the Seven Sleepers and moved up the hill towards the Ephesus gate.
As I was walking along the road.... buses still whizzing by...
I heard the tinkling of bells and the sound of sheep
moving and calling. Stepping off the main road I followed
the sound, and sure enough there was a shepherd moving
his flock. I just sat there for a while listening and watching
and thinking about how we are like such sheep as well. We follow the bells of the world blindly, munching on whatever comes our way, rarely looking up to see where we are going and what we are doing. Without a caring shepherd, the sheep would blindly meander to unsafe places or places where sustenance is sparse or deadly. I too have need of such a shepherd, and I am coming up on the gate to an ancient Roman city where a few of His apostles actually walked and talked.
I wandered through this city....silently gazing, wondering, imagining, I really have few words for this place that was once a thriving Roman metropolis. It did strike me that the theater where Paul made his argument, was in it's day such an important place. I am sure the people thought the grandeur of their society would never disappear into oblivion, but here I am, and that once grand place in now a photo op for tourists. Long forgotten are the names of the wealthy, beautiful, entertainers, politicians (most of them anyway) and business men of the day. Instead, it's main claim to fame.... a Jew who preached the gospel in it's courtyard.
|Streets worn smooth by centuries of travelers and residents - Who walked here?|
View of the Theater
The grand ampitheater - where countless gladiators fought, politicians pontificated
and where Paul defended himself,
My day was overwhelming to say the least. I was quite overcome with my visit to Ephesus, and tired, and sunburned and thirsty. I headed back into town where I met Ferhad, the shoe maker. Like all Turkish merchants, he asked me to take a look at his wares, but that conversation eventually turned into an invitation to tea and a deep political discussion. I find, in spite of all the warnings not to discuss politics with Turks, they they frequently bring the subject up. Their country (as most around the world) is currently embroiled in a dichotomous struggle between those who would rule with the strong arm of religion and those who would remain free to live and worship as they please, free from the dictates of power and money. We shall see... the opinions are varied and depend on of course an individual's background and experience.