I have been writing each day but between catching up from jet lag, the unpredictable internet connection, and sharing power adaptors it is more difficult to blog form the Ukraine than I thought.
If I could take five snapshots of my time thus far, they would be these:
We visited two Orthodox churches. The first was St. Michael’s which is an active church filled with worshippers during our visit. The interior was ornate and every inch covered with icons. I bought some candles, lit them and prayed for the people I love most. It was very moving and meaningful for me.
A monument is erected outside the church in honor of the 4 million (some sources say 10 million) Ukrainians who died in a famine in the 1930’s. The troubling fact is that the famine was created by Stalin as a means to further the oppression of these people. Their national story is a tragic one of dominance, war, oppression, and struggle yet I find these people to be open and pleasant.
This statue of the liberator Bogdan (which means ‘God gives’) stands in the square. He led the Ukrainians in war and won their freedom from Poland. The sad irony is that he went from hero to goat, being blamed for making it possible to be oppressed by Russia. “You freed us to become slaves!” There is much to explore here in the way of metaphor and I’m sure I’ll write more about this later.
St. Sophia’s church is the oldest building in Kiev. It was built in 1017, before the schism between Roman Catholicism and Greek Orthodoxy which was in 1054. It is also the only building to survive the invasion of the Mongols in the 12th century. We spend a few hours exploring the grounds, cathedral, and the bell tower. To stand in a place where God has been worshipped for nearly 1000 years was amazing for me. Yet it is now a museum…another metaphor that deserves more pondering.
We finished the day with dinner on the patio. It was prepared by our Ukrainian hosts.