09 October 2012

Coming together

One summer evening, many years ago, I was sitting with friends after a lovely dinner out under the stars.  We were all exchanging stories of the most memorable experiences we'd had as travellers. One gentleman smiled and reminisced about the time he took a year off to travel with his family to the smaller islands that surround Greece. He was an academic and, as is often the case, had brought his research along with him on their journey. "Ah, but the true purpose of our year-long odyssey," he said, "was to grow closer as a family. To take the time to know one another better, and to come to know the world around us a little better, too."

On the first evening of their arrival in the small village where they'd rented a house, the family had hoped to enjoy a traditional meal in one of the taverns. But as the supper hour neared, they suddenly noticed that the doors of all the shops and stone houses opened and everyone stepped outside.  They watched with some confusion as the villagers came together in small groups, meeting and talking as they walked up the road and then vanished over the hill that led down to the sea. "We had all but given up hope of enjoying our first meal together in Greece," he laughed, "and were scavenging around the kitchen to see what the previous tenants might have left behind." They needn't have worried, however, because within the hour the villagers returned, straggling up over the hill and down the road, returning to their homes and reopening their shops and taverns. 

Thinking this event had to be an anomaly, the family was surprised to see the very same thing happen again the following evening! Shops closed, taverns were tightly shuttered, and the entire village made the slow and amiable walk to the sea at twilight. And so it was every evening, and always at the same time. 

The family observed this ritual for several nights, wondering what their fellow villagers were doing. One night, they decided to walk down the road as well, keeping a short distance between themselves and the villagers so as not to intrude on whatever event drew everyone seaward.  As they crested the hill they stopped and looked down at the sea. All the townspeople were grouped in random clusters along the shoreline, staring out at the horizon, where the sun was lowering in the sky.

"They're watching the sunset," the man whispered.

Indeed, they were watching in silence as the sun sank into the sea. And as the last of the sun's rays faded, some of the villagers clapped, chatter resumed, and then they turned back to the village, where the shops would open again and suppers would resume.

The man said he knew then that he had chosen the best possible place for his family to spend their time together.  "Any town where the townspeople take the time to come together as one and watch the sun set, must be a remarkable place."

I smiled and told him I could not agree more. 

Sunset over the Mediterranean from Thira. [Lighthouse Internet image]


  1. What a beautiful story. It may be a lesson to us all :)

  2. What an extraordinary story!! Beautiful! :)

  3. What a wonderful blog you have. I love your writings and the story you told today is so special. :) Thank you so much for visiting me and I hope to see you often. xo P.S. You have a new follower :)

  4. Hi Haworth!
    I've seen you do a number of posts at MHC... I've just come over because you've been faith to visit my blog twice~~ and I wanted to visit you properly!

    I read your shotgun house post...loved it.
    This post was sweet too. I love the sunset...and loved the story that went with it.
    I don't know if I have stopped lately and watched the sunset.
    I did stop and notice that the setting sun was turning the sky a beautiful shade of pink and pointed it out to my grand-daughter (who is 3) ...I suppose that counts. But we didn't linger to watch it completely.

    I'll be visiting some more...thanks for popping in at Corn!


  5. Thank you, Laura! We were all very quiet after he'd finished his story. I think the peace and simplicity of that lesson silenced us.

  6. Thank you, Debra. That dinner was quite awhile ago but I've never forgotten that story and was happy to share it here.

  7. Hello Lynn! Thank you for your kind words, and for following my blathering. :) I enjoyed visiting you, as well, and look forward to reading more.

  8. Thank you for stopping by, Pat! I've enjoyed your blog as well. (And I'm glad you liked the Shotgun post. Those are some of my favorite houses in New Orleans.) I point things out like sunsets and stars to my grandkids as well. It's a way to make *me* stop and look, too! Take care.

  9. What a truly lovely story! That sunset shot is delicious. I'm going to be spending the weekend in New England visiting my son! We're going to get more of that gorgeous fall color! I'll be thinking of all my New England friends!

  10. Thanks so much for coming by, Jacqueline! I hope you enjoy your weekend here in New England. The sunlight on the trees has been so beautiful and we're starting to see the lovliest shades of red and gold. (Dress in warm layers -- it's going to be in the 50s and 60s during the day but could get close to freezing tomorrow evening and Saturday evening as well, depending on how far north you are!)