This is a view from the path up to the stadium looking roughly east(?).
One of my favorite places in the world, Delphi, has some of the most amazing views "built into" the historical park. The Temple of Apollo was one of the most awe-inspiring places in ancient times, and being there, one can understand why this place became a place of spiritual reverence. [Journal entry: "A god must live there, the ancients had to have thought, as no mere mortal could afford such beauty."]
I visited Delphi two years before with the same professor and the same tour company, but my experience was altogether different. The first time my heart ached from so recently losing my Dad, and every beautiful site and sight tore at my soul that I would not be able to return home to share my trip with him.
This is a view of the Corinthian Gulf from my bedroom window.
The group of students on that earlier trip took me under their wings, though most were young enough to be my children. At Delphi that first time, I made the hike as far as the Temple of Apollo
and no further. Every beautiful thing made me cry, and the temple, even in ruins, is so beautiful that I found a small patch of shade and sat to cry a little, talk to my Dad in my heart, and to write in my site journal. When the group returned from the stadium on the hill above with enthusiastic tales of its magnificent views, I inwardly smiled that my own "journey", however intrinsically, was as rewarding. It was there in Delphi
, in the shadow of Apollo's remaining temple columns, that I reached a place in my soul where I could mourn my Dad without the loss crippling me.
This second trip to Greece
had personal and emotional obstacles of its own. Still reeling from my MS diagnosis and a severe exacerbation that left both of my arms and legs like electrically charged rubber bands and my body bloated from repeated corticosteroid treatments, I agreed to travel with our group, both as a student and an instructor, as well as receiving financial help by acting as our professors' daughter's au pair (she was 11 and more mature than many of the college students traveling with us!). I had just completed a graduate course on how to make a classroom accessible for disabled students, so I picked that professor's brain for tricks and tips for traveling with a disability. She didn't know as much as I felt I needed, so I put my historian research skills to work and while preparing my lecture notes I prepared myself to meet the obstacles I knew I would face.
In another entry, I will talk about those obstacles, though, as this is about Apollo. Or how the ancient god affected me.
This trip, then, I had a heartache of a different kind to contend with as I ascended to Apollo's shrine. While my students and my young charge raced ahead to see every rock and crevice, my professor walked slowly with me, strolling arm-in-arm with me while I maneuvered my cane with my other hand. We talked about and debated over the history of the site and gossiped about our handsome Greek tour guide. When we reached the temple, I found a place to sit to catch my breath and to take pictures and write in my journal. My entry at that point in my trek centered on the physical site, namely the ruins, and a really awful drawing of the temple. Looking back on that drawing (in 2007), I cannot even envision what the heck I was trying to depict, even though I know what I was looking at! I can see the ruins in my mind's eye and look at photographs, but it looks nothing like that pathetic drawing!
My charge returned with some of the group, and together with our professors, I was convinced to try the final plateau, cajoled with goads of "just to that next tree...that next rock...that next bend in the path." We rested often, laughed alot at my inhuman ability to produce enough sweat to water crops, and when we made it to the stadium I was so focused on getting there that I didn't realize I had achieved my goal. We laughed at that, and then they turned me around to see the direction from which we had come.
My heart convulsed in pain at the beauty of the canyon in which Delphi
was created. One can see for miles, out, up and down. Delphi is built on the side of Mt. Parnassus
, roughly half-way to the top, within a winding canyon, and overlooking the Xeropotamos valley, with the Corinthian Gulf
beyond. From the stadium level, you can see all of these features, giving you a feeling of being surrounded and inundated with splendor. Really, to me there are not enough entries in a thesaurus to describe the feeling of wonder that I experienced that day.
When I could speak and act coherently again, I presided over the 1st Northern Arizona University
footrace at Delphi
and crowned my young charge with a virtual laurel wreath for her victory. Making it down the mountain to the waiting bus was easier than going up, mostly because I felt I had left the weight of worry and woes with the Oracle, who so far has blessed me with good fortune!