Thursday, January 8, 2009

God of Eastern Europe

I have not been to mass much here, not in a very long time -- and I never went to mass in Eastern Europe either. But the churches there are so old, with such history and they dominate the skylines of every city...and when you walk in there are invariably people kneeling, sitting, lighting candles, praying. The churches are in the city, they are part of the city, easily accessible to all. Downstairs the crypts are hushed and well lit but softly. Sts Peter and Paul in Krakow in particular stands out -- there was a fellow there in the crypt who was on the way to sainthood, or folks were pushing for that anyway, and his crypt was literally covered with slips of paper filled with prayers and supplications, written in every language and by hands old and young. I left a prayer too, but now I can't remember the fellow's name. The prayer for me was wrong; I knew when I left that I shouldn't have but what was done was done and God may well have agreed with me for all I can tell. But I digress. The churches there are part of the life, they are always full of people, and the people who are there are using them. Even a magnificent church like Sts Vitus and Adelbert in Prague which is very much a tourist spot (they sell medals from a vending machine in the church itself!) had many people there to pray. I wonder if I moved to the Czech Republic or Poland would it be easier to be religious or closer to God, or maybe these are the same things?
I would love to move to Prague -- 'cept when all the tourists arrive in the spring I would probably hate it. Maybe Krakow...
And too for all the distancing the Eastern Europeans do between them and the Nazis, and all the preservation of the ghettos and the old Jewish towns, there really aren't many Jews ... because there isn't much tolerance. Still I felt closer to God in those places than I've felt anywhere else in a very long time. I fail in trying to express with words what it was like, but I know it was something different and special....and I don't know if or where it might be here, or where I am here that makes it all -- everything important -- seem so removed and inaccessible.

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