St. Mary and the Incredible Town of Ephesus

I’m thinking of Ephesus today and how much more of Turkey there is for me to share before I slip back into the wonderfulness of here. My wanderlust has me itching to venture out of town again. Out-of-town is a small bandaid for the gushing wound that is eternal wanderlust.

Something I don’t think I’ve mentioned while chatting about our Turkish adventure is that our Turkish trip was initially supposed to be a trip to Israel.

I was incredibly keen to go to Israel, but one thing was making me balk: religion.

You see, I’ve kind of lost mine. This thing that used to be a massive part of me has kind of dissipated a bit and I’m struggling to get a handle on it. When we went to India last year I had it in my head that maybe a little bit of spirituality might find me (Eat, Pray, Love much?) but while I was most certainly overwhelmed by a stronger connection to the here and now (as always happens when I travel) I can’t say that I found any of our gods while I was there. This is just a long-winded way of saying that the reason I decided to skip Israel and go to Turkey instead was because I am not yet ready to visit a place that is of such huge significance to the specific religion that I follow. (I’m having an overwhelming desire to delete this last bit, but whatever. Transparency, right?)

The basic point is this: Ephesus  and St. Mary’s house acted as sort of a mini-spiritual experience, which was kind of perfect for this confusion-plagued traveller. 

To say the least, experiencing Turkey is overwhelming. Each time one experience ends there is barely a moment to catch a breath before the next one is upon you. And so we came to be in Kusadasi, one of the most glorious little seaside towns, a stone’s throw away from the Greek island of Samos (seriously I think I could swim there if I wasn’t void of muscle tone). “We should live here,” I said to my husband for the 17th time. I must admit, of all the places we went to I loved the general vibe of this place the best. Possibly that had everything to do with being right next to the ocean. The ocean kind of does that…

I particularly loved Ephesus and St. Mary’s House. Perhaps it shows a weakness of character on my (spiritual) part but sometimes I find it kind of exciting to be reminded of the biblical things that tie in with actual tangible history. I always wanted to study theology, not from a religious point but from a historically objective viewpoint. I’m not sure that’s even an option, really.

These two places definitely did hit me in a more ethereal way though, which in itself was a bit of a relief. Walking through Mary’s recreated house didn’t do much, but I always loved the idea of lighting candles in prayer (not something that is not done on the more charismatic side of the religion spectrum!) and I got to light two of my own while I was there. And then we turned the corner and were met with The Prayer Wall. For an empath, something like this can be a punch in the gut. Things like this are such a reminder of why religion can be such a space of comfort for people, and even though I myself have lost my ability to find comfort in religion, I could never fault anyone else for turning to whichever god soothes their fears. How beautiful to be able to look up and say this is what I need without feeling hopelessness in the effort. Mary, bless me with children. Mary, help me to reconnect with my family. Mary, help me find love. All these prayers tied to the wall. So vulnerable. So innocent. I do hope she is listening, dear ones.

Feeling fragile as we arrived in Ephesus I was delighted to discover that the ancient city is home to all the cats. With cats playing a vital role in my real-life wellbeing I have to admit that finding cats to pet all over the place is quite a treasure. This is why you were worshipped as gods, I think to myself, you have powers of serenity. Of course the city itself is a treasure as well, and our wonderful guide, Begum, painted us an amazing picture of long ago by sharing her vast knowledge of the area.

All I want to do is go back. I want to go through all of it again. I want to take in all the moments and absorb them with my skin and soul, drinking it all in like water.  Let’s do it all again. Just slower. And quieter. And with no thoughts of what is coming next…

More pics: #nayesexploresturkey

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