Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Global Adventures and Reflections

Welcome guest writer Katina Vaselopulos.  Originally from Greece, Mrs. Vaselopulos has made her home in Chicago for the past 47 years with her husband.  Their four children and nine grandchildren offer countless adventures.  Katina is an accomplished homemaker, chef, baker, teacher, avid reader, perpetual student and the author of  the soon to be released book Sailing toward Ithaca, a Year in the Journey Nurturing Body and Soul. 

The Acropolis Museum
by: Katina Vaselopulos

Three summers ago, the Acropolis Museum in Athens opened its doors to the public. My husband Spyros and I witnessed the whole process, from the finishing touches to the opening day of this wonderful testament to Hellenic culture. We were honored to be among the first visitors that summer of 2009. It was both a need and an obligation to visit.  I would like to take you on a short tour to participate in this amazing experience.

No matter where we come from, all of us carry Hellenism . . . in the words we utter, in the sciences we study and practice, in the visual arts we  enjoy or create, in the government we elect, in the architecture that embellishes the world, in the philosophy and ideals we embrace. As I take you along this tour, step by step, I believe you will feel a connection to the Acropolis Museum   as well. I know I can instill some of the same feelings we felt on the magical day we journeyed through this space. 

My mom, husband, daughter Kathy, two grandchildren and I walk in the winding path of the museum garden, among olive trees similar to the ones that sprouted from the goddess Athena’s spear thousands of years ago.   We are filled with excitement and anticipation. The very impressive building in front of us, formed from glass and cement, at first sight seemed too modern for this ancient sacred site and, I have to admit, disappointed me.  As we come closer, however, it lends the feeling that it is suspended on the air, just above the centuries old ruins of Athens, with an unbelievable lightness. From our first steps in the museum, my heart throbs from excitement.  Never before have I seen so many sculptures and artifacts from the Acropolis, all gathered together under one roof, so close to their original position.  Overwhelmed and deeply touched, we walk around looking, reading, explaining to the children, and marveling.

The minimalistic lines of the building, as well as the modern materials used to build it, stand aside and bow to the magnificent classical sculptures, allowing them to shine on their own.  The diaphanous glass walls, ceilings, and floors lend the large structure light, air and openness, as it becomes one with its surroundings.  The Attic light, the brightest and most brilliant in the world, makes its way into the interior, flooding the immense space, whether in the cool, clear morning light or the warm orange and golden tones of the sunset. Light gives life to everything it touches, and at the same time, is important in and of itself. I notice The Caryatids, dressed in sumptuous draped gowns and with beautiful pulled-back-locks. Yet, they seem lonely and unhappy without their missing sister.

The view through the glass walls takes our breath away, especially from the last floor which is almost at the same level as the Parthenon itself. Then, the realization hits: the Parthenon, stripped and plundered, still stands erect after two and a half thousand years. In this room, the replica sculptures of its metopes, friezes, and pediments are assembled among just a few originals, while the majority of them are held at the British Museum in London.  Dimitris, my grandson, and I get ready to take a photograph of the Parthenon through the pane walls.  Before we even lift our cameras to our eyes, we are very politely stopped. Disappointed and embarrassed, we apologize and continue our walk.

My soul is flooded with pride in the human spirit and with awe for the divine inspiration.  I feel pride for the Greek spirit that created monuments like those in Acropolis, but also I am proud of the people of the world, who have opened their hearts to love, appreciate, and connect to the Greek arts and ideals.  I bow to the ingenious spirit of those who conceived the idea of this museum as well as all those who diligently worked for years to bring this magnificent building to the world.

As we leave the museum, my heart is filled both with elation and sadness. A lump gathers in  my throat and tears can no longer be contained.  I am sad for what is broken and violated, for what has been taken.  A silent scream and a plea go out to the world: “Bring back home what belongs to this land, so that the world will enjoy and be inspired by the Whole.”

The enjoyment of what we saw was immense.  Yet, it was clear, there is a very strong desire – a need – for the restoration of what has been “taken away.” To be polite, it is necessary to bring the missing pieces back to their home.  This is no longer an ethnic demand but a universal concern, and sooner or later, I believe, this idea will mature and the Parthenon sculptures will return to where they belong. Only then the Parthenon will be complete and truly appreciated.
  

Katina Vaselopulos' book, Sailing toward Ithaca, is the reflection and account of one specific year in the life of the author, filled with stories, poems and essays, prayers and exercises touching on topics such as nurturing a healthy body and soul, Greek food and culture, overcoming hurdles and conquering challenges, the benefits of optimism, compassion, faith and prayer, gratitude and generosity, reverence for life, love and friendship, Life and Death.

Sailing toward Ithaca is a journey of empowerment to which the reader is invited to travel along…to follow through the days and the months, the changes of the seasons and one’s own life, to discover the beauty and the joy of living in the moment yet sowing the seeds of a better future, connecting with self and others, with nature and God, enriching and transforming life for him/her self and others for a better world.

This book’s essays encourage and inspire the reader to a better relationship with self – body and soul –others, and God to enrich and transform thus their daily lives.

22 comments:

  1. This is very nice--I was really able to see what the museum looked like through your eyes. I wish I could have found such a personal experience for my son to read this year for his geography course. I might still have him read it. :) You did a nice job!!!

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    1. Katina VaselopulosJune 28, 2012 at 4:00 PM

      Lisa, thank you for visiting this site and my article! Thank you for your kind words! All of us, Greek or not, carry Hellenism in our hearts or in our minds...through the words we speak, the arts we create and enjoy, the sciences we study and practice, the goverment we elect, the architecture with which we embelish our cities, the ideals, values, and phylosophy which we embrace. What I mean is that you saw the museum not only through my eyes but from your heart and mind as well! Check this site...always something to learn on geography, history, and culture!

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  2. Your reflection at the Acropolis Museum inspires readers to go beyond the motions of life and experience it through heightened senses. I could almost smell the Mediterranean air while reading your post! Thank you for your contribution.

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    1. katina VaselopulosJune 29, 2012 at 9:30 PM

      Irene,I am grateful to you for encouraging me to take the first step toward publishing something I wrote. I am also grateful for giving me the opportunity to share this article with your readers. Glad you enjoyed it, but noone can play music in your own heart strings exept you yourself! You have first to give yourself permission and them you get swept away!

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  3. What a wonderful and expressive piece on the Acropolis Museum. I enjoyed reading it and appreciated your comments celebrating the Greek arts and ideals.

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    1. Katina VaselopulosJuly 3, 2012 at 8:13 PM

      Thank you Jim for visiting! I am glad you liked my post and appreciated my comments. To me, this means that you as well are tuned in and connected to both the Greek arts as well as ideals. Greece is the premordial mother that breasfed her ideasl to the western world. This means that we all are her children!

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  4. Katina, I can feel your emotional connection and deep passion for your Hellenic roots. It is inspiring to all of us to take the time to reconnect and to appreciate our Greek heritage. Your article expresses your actual physical experience at the museum but most of all touches the inner senses and expresses your true feelings in a very convincing and sincere way. Thank you for sharing your gift with us!

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    1. Katina VaselopulosJuly 2, 2012 at 12:38 PM

      Thank you Stella for visiting this wonderful educational site hosting my article and for leaving such a thoughtful comment! For a writer to be able to touch even a few readers is a great accomplishment! You and every one else have made feel that I am doing something right, giving me encouragement to continue growing!
      Connecting to our roots is important if we don't want to shrivel and die. It is the nourishment from our roots that help us branch out, absorb light, and reach to heavens!

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  5. I had the pleasure of visiting the Acropolis Museum last year and can truly appreciate your indepth reflections of such works of art, beauty and history. Reading your article brings back wonderful memories of walking through the museum and the feelings I had experienced. Thank You for sharing it from the heart and with such great detail!!!

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    1. Katina VaselopulosJuly 2, 2012 at 12:07 PM

      Sandy, Thank you for visiting this site and my guest post! I am glad my reflections brought back memories and connected you to feelings you experienced while visiting the Acropolis Museum!
      "Connecting" is imperative to living a full life, if we don't want to reach our Ithacas as empty cells but rather full and satiated of life's gifts, no matter where they come from.

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  6. I myself have visited the Acropolis Museum in 2009. I felt the same kind of honor, ambiance, vibes and respect to the Ancient Greek history, art and the like. You did wrote an excellent reading on the magnificent state-of-the art Athenian museum for me; that is, I sensed for a moment that you read my mind and soul. I recall that the striking museum opened to the public on June 21, 2009. Nearly 4,000 objects are now exhibited. It covers an area of 14,000 square meters. The approach of Mrs. Vaselopulos catches and focuses squarely on the findings of the archaeological site of the Acropolis of Athens. Mrs. Vaselopulos travels us from the Greek Bronze Age to the Roman one and, then, straight ahead to the Byzantine Greece. Thank you Mrs. Vaselopulos indeed for the wonderful mental and sentimental trip to the old Athenian times, art and life. Well done!

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    1. Katina VaselopulosJuly 2, 2012 at 10:56 AM

      Elias, what a wonderful comment this is!
      I appreciate, as I am certain other readers do, the fact that you expanded and complemented my post by contributing not only your own reflections from your visit to the museum but other facts that add to the understanding and appreciation of this great place.
      Just as Greece is built on layer upon layer of antiquities, perhaps more readers could add another layer to this post by sharing some other facts or experiences, not just about The Acropolis Museum but Greece in general. Wouldn't that be very interesting?

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  7. Well done Katina! Great use of imagery. Sounds like a wonderful place!

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    1. Katina VaselopulosJuly 2, 2012 at 10:35 AM

      Grayson, how wonderful to see you here!
      Thank you for visiting as well as for your encouraging comment.

      The Museum trully is an amazing place!

      Have you ever gone to Greece? Greece is amazing!

      If you ever decide to go, I'll guide you to my home-town's beauty and antiquities!

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  8. What a beautiful and articulate article written on one of the more recent and most magical jems in Athens. I had the pleausre of going to the measum and experiencing all it has to offer. Your article not only takes me back, but gives others a chance to experience it as well. Thank you very much for sharing.

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  9. Katina VaselopulosJuly 12, 2012 at 9:12 PM

    Thanks Sophia for visiting as well as for affirming my enthusiasm by sharing yours!

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  10. Dimitris H

    I have not had the opportunity to visit the museum as yet,but after reading your article,I look forward to do so the first chance I get.Thank you Katina,for so eloquently expressing your thoughts and feelings about your experience at the museum and the Hellenic ideals!You made me feel-once again-proud of my Greek heritage.
    Proud of the valued,lasting and irreplacable contributions
    Hellenism has made to the world and its indellible mark left on humankind.I thank you for that Katina ! I am proud of You !
    Now,with the Olympics approaching,the long outstanding injustice to Greece and the world-the removal of the Parthenon sculptures-comes again into a magnified focus with the hope that they will be returned to their rightful place !

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  11. Thank you Dimitri for visiting this site and reading my post! Thank you for your wonderful comment! Visiting the Acropolis Museum truly was an experience I will never forget. It seems everyone who visited felt the same way. I know you will too when you visit. Whether the world wants to admit it or not, we are all Hellenes because, as you said "...of the valued, lasting, and irreplaceable contributions Hellenism has made..." I hope the Olympic Spirit that soars over London these days will inflame the British Hearts with the Hellenic values and ideals so that they show the due respect to the ancient immortal Greek Soul by freeing our bonded sculptures and returning them back to their home!

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  12. A very articulate and beautifully written piece about the Acropolis Museum! It is written with the eyes of the heart and signed with the tears of the soul, to emphasize the injustice which still exists with regard to the Parthenon marbles being away from the mother land.....
    This injustice should cause pain to everyone, not just the Greeks. Mrs. Katina Vaselopoulos is the best Greek ambassador for our Greek heritage.
    Taking this opportunity I would like to mention that I have had the great honor and pleasure to read Mrs. Katina's book "Sailing Towards Ithaca". It is a wonderful book, a great piece of literature and a triumph of living which I suggest to everyone to read upon its release.

    Maria Papadopoulou

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  13. This article by Mrs. Katina Vaselopulos, detailing her family's visit to Athen's Acropolis Museum, is truly heartfelt and touching! For too long, Great Britain has used as an excuse for not returning the Parthenon Sculptures it holds illegally in its British Museum, that Greece didn't have an adequate museum to hold them! This obviously is no longer the case, and it is my hope that the British government won't simply come up with another lame excuse for disobeying the laws regarding the return of antiquities to their rightful place of origin. One could just imagine if some country had taken the Royal Jewels from England, how the British would be screaming bloody murder for their return!

    From this example of Mrs. Vaselopulos's writing, I look forward with great anticipation the publication of her forthcoming book, "Sailing toward Ithaca"!

    Howard Rosenzweig

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  14. Beautiful article with a passion and vision for the future that only brings forth the best in human qualities. Imagine a gift of return and a gift of a world monument. In reality, The Acropolis continues to inspire people around the world over two and half thousand years later. One more reminder, the Greek ideals, philosophy, democracy, arts, culture are still in demand. Lovely article.

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  15. Keri, wonderful to see you here! Somehow I missed your comment! Thank you for thoughts and words that touch my heart and add value to my own words. It is a pleasure and an honor knowing you! I am grateful for your love and appreciation for Greece and Hellenism. For your contributions as well, all of which widen the awareness that "the Acropolis continues to inspire." That we are all Hellenes because of the treasured, lasting, undeniable, and irreplacable gifts Hellenism has enriched Humankind with. Indeed, " the Greek ideals, philosophy, democracy, arts, culture are still in demand" but we still need to remind people because many of them don't know. Especially when it comes to the thousands of Greek words that have impregnated the languages of the world, most people think of them as indigenous to their own language or at best as Latin.
    Blessings and light Keri, to continue being an ambassador of the values and ideals of all the people of the world!

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