23.12.2008 - 23.12.2008 -3 °C
Merriam Webster defines solitude as
1 : the quality or state of being alone or remote from society : seclusion
2 : a lonely place (as a desert)
It is an easy thing to find in Cappadocia, Türkiye. I came her partially because I just love this country. It speaks to my spirit. It certainly has spirit of place. There is not much that I do not love about Türkiye. So, I found a way to come back, once again, and do some soul searching. My goal, besides getting credit for J-term, was to let go and cleanse the mind of all negative and extraneous thoughts. I knew that it would be quiet here this time, and the landscape exudes closeness to the Divine, so I thought it the perfect place to spend close to a week, just walking, thinking, reflecting, breathing it all in. I've mentioned to several people here that I was staying for almost 6 days and they all gave me looks as if I were crazy. You see, most people come here to see the sites. The come crammed on tour buses, everything planned for them. The get little time to explore on their own. That's OK. That's sort of how I was introduced to Türkiye the first time around, although I wasn't crammed on a tour bus...we had ample room. It's a wonderful way to experience a lot of the country in a relatively short amount of time. But it left me wanting even more. It whetted my desire to see the things I did not see. I was reading Dick Osseman's FAQ on his website last night and he said something that struck me as familiar. (Dick Osseman is a frequent visitor to Türkiye who has put a very large collection of photos on his website - http://www.pbase.com/dosseman). He said "To me it is more satisfactory to really know a country, then to “collect countries” like I see many people do. I also love to return to places I like, gradually feel less of a foreigner" and I think I agree with him! When I thought about extending my stay past the fall semester, I thought that maybe I should go somewhere I had not been. But why? If I really love a place, why not go again? If it speaks to my spirit, why not spend more time there. Here I am....spending Christmas in Cappadocia. The snow is falling outside and the quiet is almost deafening after being in Athens and Istanbul. There is a peace and beauty that has fallen and it captures the Christmas spirit perfectly.
Yesterday, my first full day here, I ventured into Zemi Valley. I wasn't really sure if I was taking the right path or not, but I walked and walked. I explored a few cave churches, found secluded spots high in the valley, traipsed through mud and icy water, saw a fox scurrying high up on the rock, sat and listened to nothing but the wind and the birds. It all brought me just a a bit closer to God. I did get that cleansing that I sought. All thoughts were gone except the wonder of it all. I can see why this place too was chosen for monastic life. It makes you realize how small, how insignificant you are when you sit in such a great valley surrounded by miles and miles of nature's sculpture and far from any other human soul. I suppose some would find it disconcerting to be so very far from home and so very alone. No. It is empowering. It nourishes the soul. It empties the mind. It brings peace and contentment. I found my place.