Thursday, May 29, 2014
Before the pilgrimage to Lourdes, I went by myself to Greece. My first evening in Athens I went for a walk around the Acropolis. I came upon this large rock that many people were clambering over. I thought it was just for a good view of the city, so I climbed up on the rock myself. It was a good view, but what I discovered to my dismay was that thousands of years of people clambering over it had polished it and made it extremely slippery. To get back down I had to sit and scoot myself to some metal steps.
The next day when I read the guide book, I found out to my delight that this was the Areopagus where St. Paul spoke to the curious Athenians (Acts of the Apostles 17:16-34.) Half of the road that I had taken around the base of the Acropolis was named St. Paul and the other half was named Dionysius Aeropagite after a man St. Paul converted by his speech.
I went back to the large polished rock, took a safer way up, stayed off the areas that were most slippery, and spent some time with St. Paul 2,000 years earlier. When I came down I noticed a large metal plaque embedded in the rock with the Greek text of the sermon that St. Paul preached there. This sermon is the source of the phrase "in him we live and move and have our being," which found its way into the liturgy and had become one of the short prayers I use every morning to settle myself for centering prayer.
Though St. Paul was not successful in converting the Athenian philosophers (there is no Letter of Paul to the Athenians,) he provided us with a wonderful little prayer and gave me a good spiritual experience standing on the spot where he stood.