Pano Lefkara is one of the most picturesque villages in Cyprus and is renowned for its lace and silver handicraft. I made an interesting discovery today while talking to a Cypriot lady who sells this intricate needlework, known as lefkaritiko. When she heard I was originally from N. Ireland, she told me they use linen from Belfast! It is a small world!
Lefkara embroidery and lace making goes back to the Venetian period (15th - 16th century) when Cyprus was governed by the Republic of Venice. Venetian nobility would resort to Lefkara in the summer and the wives of the nobility most likely influenced the style of the embroidery. It is said that Leonardo Da Vinci visited Lefkara in 1481 and purchased a lace cloth which he donated to Milan Cathedral for use on the altar. Pictures alluding to the past display the embroiderers of the village sitting outside enjoying their craft. To this day, the locals sit outside their houses in cooler temperatures, embodying the character of Lefkara life as they demonstrate their skill.
Lefkara's charm lies in its narrow streets and traditional architecture. I wondered if the villagers ever get tired of having their houses and streets photographed. In cooler weather, many of them sit outside and greet those passing by. Today was much too hot, however, with a temperature of well over 30 degrees.
There are a number of cafés around the centre of the village which provide an oasis to the traveller. The local takeaway had an intriguing menu! Little shops offer the famous Cypriot sweets including Cypriot delight and soutzioukos, pictured second in the collage, in flavours of carob, pomegranate and grape.
A visit to Lefkara is a rewarding and memorable experience. Perhaps this art of needlework is a dying craft, including village life itself as technology and modern lifestyles replace the old. The world is becoming increasingly restless, yet this village helps us take a step back into time to savour a pace of life largely unchanged for centuries.
Many of us are weary with the demands of life. While it is beautiful to rest for a short time in the tranquility of Lefkara, we can experience true rest and peace in our souls from God's provision. As we go back to the roots of our faith, we remember the words spoken by our Saviour:
"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11: 28-30
He accepts us as we are with all our burdens and sins when we come to Him in repentance and faith. Accept His salvation and peace today! He will never refuse a heartfelt prayer.