I can hardly believe it but today marks Day 365 of my daily blog about death and dying that I resolved to do as a project throughout all of 2021.
My first post was about my motivations for setting this new year’s resolution in order to “move in that momentum” of living with my end in mind.
I quickly learned that, by doing a daily blog about death, I would need to be more alert to reality, awake to ideas, and attentive in conversations in order to come up with the consistent content. This made my visits richer, my discussions deeper, and drew me out myself in surprising and uplifting ways.
Today I visited the site of ancient Troy.
Many associations came to mind, but my favourite recollection was of Alfred Lord Tennyson’s beautiful poem, “Ulysses.”
Here are some of the best lines:
There was so much to see at the site of ancient Hieropolis. One of my favourite experience was trekking up to the Martyrion of the Apostle St. Philip.
I walked up on my own, silently praying some psalms, shortly before sunset.
There was no one else there as I stood and looked at the rough remnants commemorating Philip’s martyrdom.
As I was exploring the ruins of ancient Hieropolis in modern Turkey, I looked up some information about the extensive cemetery.
That’s how I came upon this blog by Leon Mauldin about a particularly grand tomb among the necropolis.
In God’s providence, I had the opportunity to visit the Basilica of St. John in Ephesus on his very feast day.
There was once a massive basilica here and I walked among the ruins of the site. Here are a couple snaps:
During my travels through Turkey, I visited the site of ancient Hieropolis near Pamukkale.
It was thrilling to meander through the ruins of the ancient cemetery with its many tombs from the 1st and 2nd century AD.
On Christmas Day, I attended mass at 11:00 a.m. for the Feast of the Nativity and at 6:00 p.m. for the Vigil of Sunday at a small German Catholic parish in Antalya, Turkey.
The morning mass was in German and the evening mass was in English. After the English mass, I heard the ‘Hail Mary’ prayed in Turkish.
Here’s what the priest said during his homily:
Many people live in a lockdown of thinking without an open heaven but Christmas is when God opens up the lockdown of our small existence. And he’s doing it because he is the redeemer of the world. It’s a real renaissance to become a child of God – to be a witness of God coming down into the lockdown of this small world is something new. He changes everything. But he comes in povety and, as an adult, he is beside those who are lost. At Christmas we exchange gifts because it’s a birthday but it’s not our birthday, so what can we give Christ? The only present we can give to him is our love.
I found it interesting that the German priest used the term “renaissance” in connection with the Nativity. From death and darkness, life and light has come forth – Merry Christmas!
Today I had an opportunity to visit a Muslim cemetery (Üçler Mezarlığı) in Konya, Turkey.
Perusing the graves, I noticed the words “Ruhuna Fatiha.” At first I thought it was a common name like “Mehmet” but then I realized that this phrase is on almost every tombstone whether in full form or abbreviation and that it is a kind of Islamic equivalent to “Rest in Peace.”
I took a stroll through the cemetery across from the Mevlana Museum in Konya, Turkey.
This was my first time exploring a Muslim cemetery.
The grave above attracted my attention because I am nearly certain that it had the only tombstone in the entire cemetery with a photograph of the person buried there.
But this is not just any photo – it’s a photo of the deceased dressed in his white doctor’s coat with his arms crossed. His title is also listed on his tombstone.
The doctor died in 2019 and it does not seem like his LinkedIn profile-esque tombstone has caught on. It did, however, catch my attention.
During my travels through Turkey, I had the opportunity to visit the Mevlana Museum, which is also the mausoleum of the Persian poet and Islamic mystic generally known as Rumi.
According to the Encyclopædia Britannica: