Thursday, 10 February 2005
This morning dawns bright and clear, not quite
The caves are filled with the coffins of saints, and there is a very serious message – live right or die a terrible death and be tortured by demons. There are a number of stories related about saints – how they lived and died, what miracles attended their lives – but nothing that any child would believe after Santa Claus has been debunked. I notice one woman is praying over the coffin of one, something that is encouraged there, so that the saint might intervene; she comes away with tear-stained cheeks, and it makes me sad too. You have to buy a taper, a candle in order to enter in; they do the whole thing by candlelight. Immediately Alene and I think, this would never happen in the states – lawsuits galore. Mid-tour, Oksana leans in to translate something to Alene, and she catches the fringe of her hood on fire; Alene puts her out with quick thinking, and we spend the rest of the tour laughing and making jokes about how Oksana’s face was aglow during the excursion. Afterwards we have coffee and baklava at a cafeteria and head home. We have more coffee at Jim Dumas’ place, and Nina and Oksana tell us how they came to know the church and the Bible school. Nina is a former Greek Orthodox person, so she has many reflections on their curious ways.
I am told that I look sort of like a Ukrainian, but everyone knows that I’m an American because I am so pleasant, always smiling and laughing. The point is, everyone is so darn grim here. No smiling or laughing aloud. There is no Russian word for fun!