Monday, December 27, 2010

Mary's Home and Saint John the Apostle's Tomb

As Christ was dying on the Cross, He asked Saint John to care for His mother.  Saint John brought Mary to Ephesus, where she spent the last years of her life.  We had the opportunity to visit this modest stone house where Mary lived after Christ's death and Resurrection.  By far, this was the most incredible experience we have had in Turkey.

Mary's home rested at the top of a breathtakingly beautiful mountain outside of the city.  As our car drove up the mountain twists and turns, we took in the natural beauty around us.  I can see why God chose this mountain for His mother, we marveled.  It was too beautiful for words.  We parked our car and hiked the rest of the way up.  We felt an intense peace as we hiked through the evergreen trees and listened to the cool breeze blowing through the pine needles.  The warm sun peaked through the branches and the fresh mountain air smelled sweet. 

As we came closer, we saw a baptismal font for early Christians.  We hiked further down the path and came to Mary's home.  It was a humble stone house nestled in the trees.  We entered the main room of her home.   It was simple and humble.  There was a statue of Mary, a nativity scene, and several chairs.  To the side was a little bedroom.  In the corner were crutches and leg braces, evidence of healings that resulted from pilgrimages to this home.  A Franciscan brother and sister quietly cleaned and decorated to prepare for Christmas (Dan helped the Sister by holding the dustpan for her while she swept.  He was so excited to say that he helped clean Mary's house!)

  I stood in the little room, closed my eyes, and took a deep breath.  Peace.  Incredible peace.  My heart felt at rest.  During all of the trials and challenges of this year, we have placed ourselves in Mary's arms and asked for her intercession.  When Peter got sick right before our trip, we placed our trip in Mary's hands and asked for her help.  Now we were here, in Mary's home, and we felt loved, we felt safe.  We were at home, with our Heavenly mother.

I could've stayed there forever.  I considered it.  But reality hit in the form of a little boy yelping "Ma! Ma! Ba! Eh! Ah!"  Peter had been so good and quiet on Dan's back, but he was gently reminding us that it was time to go.  As we left, we stopped at a natural spring next to Mary's home that she may have used.  We each took a sip and filled a bottle.  Next to the spring was a wall filled with notes and intentions for Mary.  We sat down and wrote a note to Mary, rolled it up, and placed it in the wall. 

We drove down the mountain and stopped at our final spot for the day: the tomb of Saint John the Apostle.  A Church was built around his tomb.  We explored the ruins of the Church as the sun set over the village.  We asked Saint John to pray for our family.  It had been a long, amazing day. 

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