I've started looking at images of these structures whenever I'm in a pooh-pooh mood---thinking my life is difficult, or running a little low on faith.
Because when you imagine constructing something several hundred feet in the air, on rockface, it puts things into perspective.
I'm talking about the monasteries of Meteora.
They are precariously perched on sandstone rocks that have eroded naturally into pillars.
For hundreds of thousands of years, monks sought refuge in these cliffs so they could practice their religion. Originally they lived in shallow caves in Meteora, but as they were persecuted for their beliefs, they moves skyward. And higher, and higher, just to be able to worship their God in peace.
Now that is dedication.
Then they started to build the monasteries.
Which was excruciating, to say the least.
The only way up and down from the rocks was with rope ladders tied together, or mesh nets.
And the monks had a saying that they replaced the ropes/nets "only when the Lord let them break."
So with every use, they were literally taking leaps of faith.
Imagine riding in a net with stones, being lifted painstakingly up the side of a cliff face, up hundreds of feet (some of these monasteries reach 1800 feet), watching the ropes strain, knowing that your life is literally in God's hands. It is a sensation we can only imagine.
Now these monasteries, centuries old, are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and on Eli and my bucket list. Nowadays there are stone stairs carved into the rocks that you have to hike up to reach the top, though that is definitely preferable to climbing a rope ladder without any harnesses.
One of the monasteries is only accessible by a rope bridge from an adjacent rock.
Currently, only 6 of the monasteries are intact, and one of them, St. Stephen's, is still used religiously by nuns. During WWII the Nazis believed insurgents were hiding in St. Stephen's and destroyed much of it, but the nuns rebuilt it.
The Holy Trinity monastery is where they filmed the climactic finale for my favorite Bond movie, For Your Eyes Only. I shared it with Eli last night (he had never seen it, nor seen Roger Moore as Bond!!) and we both were white-knuckled watching 007 rock climbing his way to the top.
Now these are what I call skyscrapers.
They embody determination and faith, and should be an inspiration to us all.
And should the zombie apocalypse ever happen,
I think these babies will be the best bet for a safe fortress.