My Trip to Turkey: standing where others stood

An arch beside the "ecclesia" in Ephesus

First, stood is an odd looking, sounding word. Just saying.

I haven’t blogged in a bit mostly because I took a trip to Turkey during our college’s spring break. You can have Florida. I’ll take a spring break in Turkey any day.

I have a lot to say about my trip, especially the things I learned about Islam in Turkey. But just a brief reflection today on what an amazing thing it is to stand in  places so historically important to the Christian faith.

I’m not the curious type, at least not about this stuff. I’ve had the good fortune to travel places like Italy, Germany, Belize, Brazil, Uganda, Singapore, and now Turkey. On none of these trips did I get online to do a little pre-trip reading. Never bought a travel guide book to anticipate what I might soon experience. That would require way too much effort and planning.

So, I’ve often been surprised at how overwhelmed I am at the things I see. Before this trip, this was particularly true of Italy. The walled cities of Tuscany with their old churches gripped me. It was profound simply to be touching and seeing that much history. Italy, however, has nothing on Turkey. In fact, to the contrary, Turkey far exceeded the experience in Italy for me.

Istanbul (not Constantinople), Ephesus and Cappadocia simply blew me away. My son told me today how jealous he was that I stood in the streets of Ephesus, the very place where the riot occurred as recorded in Acts 19. He should be jealous. It was very moving to stand where Paul had once stood.

With my friend, Robert Chambers, in Cappadocia.

But I was more blown away by Cappadocia. To move in the underground caves where Christians once lived to avoid persecution; to see the caves in which the desert fathers and their monastic communities lived and worshipped; to stand in the region that produced Basil, his brother Gregory of Nyssa, and Gregory of Nazianzus (not his other brother, Gregory). Unbelievable.

In recent years, Eastern theology has become more important to me. And what you make of the Cappadocians is pretty important in all of that. They changed the game in terms of how we think of God as Triune in ways that have profoundly influenced our imaginations about God.

So, today, in addition to getting over jet lag, I am thankful for the opportunity to put my feet where others have stood.

About Mark Love

I am the Dean for the School of Theology and Ministry and Director of the Resource Center for Missional Leadership at Rochester College. Part of my job includes directing a master's degree in missional leadership, a situated learning degree. I am married to Donna and have a son, Josh Love, who is a practicing new monastic in Abilene, TX. With Donna, I have also inherited three great daughters and two amazing granddaughters.
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3 Responses to My Trip to Turkey: standing where others stood

  1. Rondi says:

    Thank you for sharing about your trip. I would absolutely love to visit Turkey and Cappadocia one day. Of course I love learning about the Cappadocian Fathers, and also the lesser known sister (Macrina) and mother (Emilia) of St. Basil and St. Gregory are dear to me being such wonderful women Saints that I look up to. During Lent we celebrate the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil every Sunday (whereas the rest of the year it’s the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom) and it’s wonderful to be worshiping God with words written by these incredible early Church Fathers.

    I’m glad you got to experience that place first hand…truly a life changing experience, I would imagine!

  2. I agree that of all the places I have been: Egypt, Italy, Greece, France, Great Britain, other European countries, none compares with Turkey. To stand in Ephesus, Cappadocia, Konya, Perga, etc., and know that the apostles John and Paul stood there sent shivers down my back. Also the fantastic history of Istanbul is overwhelming to me the historical bug. I would return again in a minute! So glad you got to go.

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