Today I arrived in Delphi, and it is more beautiful than I thought a place could be. I have moved out to the roof of the youth hostel. The moon is a brilliant semi-circular disk and the stars are shining brightly. This is the place of the Oracle, which was consulted for thousands of years by the ancient Greeks. Great hills rise in several dimensions and a great gorge falls 1500 feet. The columns of the ruins stand against deep blue and rich green during the day. The air is pure here and a light wind is blowing. While I walked among the wildflowers and chunks of marble, birds were singing all around me, and some are singing now. I saw two birds with blue heads and yellow breasts flying close among the bushes together.
The bus ride from Athens was a little over three hours long. One of the first things I saw on the trip was a camp of gypsies. Large tents were spread in a muddy field and a gypsy girl in a long brightly-colored dress stood on a little hill to the left of the tents. She was facing the road and she clasped her hands behind her neck and stretched her elbows up as two similarly-clad girls ran toward her. To the right of the tents several boys played in the mud.
I am, according to Greek legend, at the center of the earth. Delphi is the navel of the earth, the meeting place of the two eagles that Zeus sent forth from the opposite ends of the earth, the home of the Temple and Oracle of Apollo. This is where Pythia sat, chewed laurel leaves, breathed in the vapors of the earth, and gave out prophecies in a frenzied tongue. Since the seventh century B.C., she was an old woman seen only by the priests. Men would travel from distant cities to hear the Oracle’s utterances.
Tonight I see the moon and stars, and the dark outline of a section of the hills. I hear Greeks speaking and laughing in the street below and I hear a dog barking from far away. There is a smell of a wood fire in the air and a truck just rumbled up the steep road in front of the hostel.
Today I thought, perhaps word of the oracle was received as far away as Albion. Could the great stone ring that I saw and touched in the Orkney’s be a rough duplication of the circular temple that I saw in ruins before me? I thought about the gypsies; how far will people wander? Could not an ancient Greek Traveller get to England, with enough persuasive charisma to infuse in the people there a reverence for his gods? Of course it could be the other way around, or it might not be at all, but the question is, how far did men travel, and what did they bring with them? Or do we come from a common center; are we all indeed really brothers from one ancient family?
Today as I approached a portion of the ruins, down a brown winding path among green bushes, I saw a woman sitting alone with long hair gazing into the tangle of fallen columns and at a remaining limestone wall. She was old, but she looked young and as she was sitting it seemed that she was receiving some remembrance for the place before her. I did not talk to her, as I was afraid to, so I left her there, sitting and looking, looking, looking.
I would like to travel to Egypt and India, as well as to Mexico and South and Central America. I think that there is a lot to learn in these places. And in Lewiston, too, there is much to learn–different things, but of the same quality, for the things in the best degree are faces, and there are faces in Lewiston, faces to see and become with. There too the sun rises and winds breeze and cats cry in the night. And so it is up to us–the quality of our language and the quality of our vision, our capacity to imagine, to see and become, to know, to connect–these sustain us and will continue to sustain us.