Approaching from the Sea, Santorini appears to be a snow-capped mountain. The closer we got, the clearer it became: “the snow” was white houses filling the top of the volcanic island. It’s rugged dark volcanic cliffs impede construction, so most of the buildings are on the top of the island. The dark contrasting white with the backdrop of the deep blue Aegean Sea renders a stunning, unforgettable visual! Breathtaking!
It is a very popular tourist destination among the Greek Islands (all of which are beautiful). In recent years, Santorini was voted one of the world’s most beautiful islands (2015 Travelers’ Choice Awards). I’d heard of its beauty and was excited to see it for myself.
We arrived via cruise ship and spent a mere couple of hours, but it packed a lasting visual punch.
I didn’t realize it would look familiar!
We arrived on a supposed “low tourist” day. Yikes, it was crowded! We walked at a snail’s pace into the town of Oia, at the western end of the island. The walking streets were narrow, like most Greek islands. You’ve likely seen them in movies with shoppes on both sides. We meandered/crawled shoulder to shoulder. (Not my ideal travel experience.)
When we finally arrived at the top, it opened into a square. I immediately had deja vous. “I’ve seen this before.” Mamma Mia, the movie, popped in my head. It was one of those halting moments; “wait, no one move till I figure out how I know this place!” No one listened to my inner dialogue, but I paused and lost my people for a second.
I later found out, they filmed “Mamma Mia” on a different Greek Island, but had similar characteristics, as most do. I have to admit, I was ready to twirl, dance, and break into song. It was that inspirational! I was scanning the crowd for Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Amanda Seyfried. Some movies were filmed there: Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (Angelina Jolie), to name a few.
The white tiered houses and blue domed chapels create a magical, ethereal landscape. And the view… Looking out on the Sea is gloriously magnificent. I can’t quite find the words to describe the color of the Aegean Sea. It is a deep, deep, deep blue. Not like the Caribbean, sky blue. It’s a hue all its own and quite captivating. Set against the white of the houses, it is a designer’s dream schematic! It simply takes your breath away: Pinch-yourself-real!
They claim the sunsets are the most beautiful in Santorini. People crowd to the western end of the island to watch them. We did as most tourists do, not wanting to return home missing the sunset of a lifetime. It delivered less than promised, although all sunsets have their beauty. I think I learned, fewer people = more beauty… which was a deterrent to this particular one.
Here’s the thing… this hunk of uniquely impressive astonishing creation
happened because of a volcano.
Volcanic Eruptions are violent disruptive consuming life-threatening events. In fact, this one, according to Wikipedia, was one of the largest in recorded history. They think it led to the collapse of the Minoan Civilization on the Island of Crete, 68 miles south, through a gigantic tsunami!
Yet, this jewel of beauty was a result!
It’s a paradox.
How could something so horrible create such a blossom of loveliness?
Destruction “yes”, but, beauty, as well.
This is a literal, physical example of:
Isaiah 61:3 “… To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion,
to give unto them beauty for ashes…”
Although this is a chapter telling of future things, it is a promise God made to His people regarding their future/our future.
Ashes symbolize grief, loss, pain, difficulties and Isaiah is reminding Israel, the future Messiah will take all the brokenness and make it whole. That is our hope, that is our future. That is what Jesus does. He takes the sorrows of this world and grants us the hope of eternal life where wholeness is restored and sorrow, grief and loss are our distant past, remembered no more!
Along this journey, some days it hurts, it’s hard, it’s dark and leaves stains like ashes (even burn marks) on our souls, but God is with us, He will not leave us and He has a restoration plan to lead us out of this mess!
He makes an island out of a volcano that attracts people like bees on honey,
to show them, in real-life time and space,
a mere glimpse of what His beauty can look like!
Beauty from Ashes!
A lesson in black/white … and blue,
Feel free to share with a friend(s).
“Subscribe” on the right or below to have all posts delivered to your email inbox.