An ancient arena of dreams


Many developments happening today are kind of scary. I’d like to take a few moments to talk about something that can make us, human beings, feel hopeful and proud. As I write this sitting close to the ancient theatre in Larisa and look at that theatre, I do feel hopeful and proud.

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A lot is said about the beauty of nature. But much more impressive is the beauty of the human spirit, capable of thinking great and noble thoughts. Time has worn away the stones of this ancient theatre of Larisa, which was able to seat ten thousand people. It is now little more than a ruin, although it is in the process of being restored.
But the plays, consisting just of words and thoughts, that were performed there 3000 years ago remain a living force in our society. This is because the reality we live in is essentially great and noble. When we express great and noble thoughts we express reality When we live great and noble lives we become more real. When we strive to give beauty to our experience, we are acting in harmony with our Creator. We are created for beautiful lives.

Even if our lives seem confusing and perplexing, they have a deeper design and order. They are as beautiful as the plays of ancient Greece. They are set in a stage as beautiful as perfectly designed and symmetrical amphitheatre.

As I write this now, there is no play being performed in the stunning theatre, just a few people working on restoring the stone steps that lead down to the stage. But there are conversations taking place all around me. I personally count it a great achievement of Greek people that they still sit together for hours on end and talk, talk and talk about their experiences, problems, hopes, share their stories, argue sometimes, agree other times. It is out of conversations like this that clarity comes. Out of clarity comes art. Plays like Antigone by Sophocles come out of a conscious culture. Never before or since has the conflict between the free human being and the tyrannical state been so clearly expressed.

The mystery of the universe is veiled in confusion for us until we become conscious through words and speech of its underlying laws and ideas.

The ancient Greek theatre brought into focus the importance of choice. What does it mean to adopt a course of action? What standards do we use? What consequences will there be?

Too often we do not ask if our actions are right or wrong. We do something without thinking through the consequences. The dominant drive of our society is to get us to make comfortable choices. But we are free human beings capable of making excellent choices, of seeing the absolute truth, expressing that truth and living that truth as the perfectly formed dramas of ancient Greece show.

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