Last summer I met a lovely woman, Natalia Corlean, in the village Bucium, in Ţara Făgăraşului.
My first impression of her was her omni-present kindness, humanity and optimism !
Read her views here on the spirituality of Romania.
What is the spirituality of Romania?
Indeed, Romania is a spiritual place. Nevertheless, being born here, I didn’t notice that until recently. It is true that we often take things for granted and treasure them only when we loose them. However, during the last 5-6 years, the spirituality of this country came to me in waves and waves of revelations. For a long time it seemed like I had a huge chest of hopes that I wasn’t so interested in opening, but once you get interested, the things you find inside are gorgeous. And it’s amazing that they actually belong to you, by legacy – you are free to enjoy, use and share everything.
As far as I’m concerned, I began to discover this treasure by listening to some stories about the people who lived before Communism or about the ones who fought against Communism – incredible true stories about values, verticality, great cultural richness, bounding, simplicity, and about the beauty of life and humankind.
It was the moment when I understood that the Communist regime simply erased the Romanian intelligentia, by sending it to political prisons and exterminating camps. In contrast, the regime promoted for top positions, the most abject characters they could find, uneducated and evil-minded people who came to lead the communities and eventually the whole country.
After decades of living under these circumstances, Romanians came to believe that this is what we are as a nation, that we never had good leaders. But having a closer look upon the old Romanian art and culture, than researching about the actual life of communities before Communism, I realized that this can’t be true.
This change of perspective enabled me to discover another Romania. It was a journey within myself and a meeting with my ancestors. Furthermore, I got to meet so many beautiful Romanians, who are doing extraordinary things these days.
After some time, I finally understood something that a Greek Orthodox priest told me once; when I was complaining that Communism destroyed the best of us, he said: „Yes, but the roots are still there.” Indeed, these roots are growing and they are bearing fruits. My journey has just begun; there is still more to discover.
If I had to choose something that represents the spirituality of Romania, I would point out the following:
– The true stories about the people who stood up for something they believed in – amazing stories about values such as strength, verticality, family, faith, sense, beauty.
– The Romanian folk costume – it bears a whole universe in it; beyond a strong bound with the ancestors who created those pieces of great art, every pattern embroidered on the Romanian traditional clothing has a meaning: the sky, the earth, the faith and the entire life is in each. Wearing these costumes connects you to who you are, to your actual identity.
– The folk art – every handmade object is alive and has a story to tell.
– The kindness and hospitality of Romanians, not to mention their humor and helpfulness.
– The wonderful landscape, lovely old architecture and beautiful villages – all these connect you to an ancestral universe, so hard to find in western industrialized countries.
– Orthodoxy – which is a part of my country and of who I am. Considering the fact that one of Christ’s disciple, Andrew, came to what is today Romania and spread the word of the Gospel, we can say that Romania is a Christian country from its beginning. Christianity didn’t just occur by accident at some point in our history, but it was here and flourished along with the forming of our nation.
From my perspective, faith and spirituality were always the backbone of my country. For instance, the Orthodox clergy established the first schools and the first hospitals; priests and monks printed the first books… In other words, the Romanian culture is strongly bounded with the Church in all its aspects – literature, art, architecture. As far as I’m concerned, Orthodoxy is a great undiscovered treasure that could balance the confused modern people of nowadays.
It is faith that offers the perspective of a life that we crave for; when I say Orthodoxy I think about the call to Beauty, the call to embrace everybody and the whole world, the call to unity and responsibility for each other. This is a call to a new life style that brings you a tremendous joy, the real happiness that no one can take away from you, no matter what life and future brings.
Father Marius and Natalia.
What do I do about all this?
First off, I try to live of everything I discover. Secondly, I try to spread the word, to talk about these values to others. For instance, in our small village community that is gathered around the church, we have a cultural center. Here we have a parish school – like a training center – offering the children workshops on spirituality, personal development, practical skills – sewing, knitting, and woodwork –, patrimony education, musical education, foreign languages and many others.
On the other hand, children and adults participate together to a weekly creative traditional workshop – called “Atelierele de meşteşuguri şi dichiseală”. We also love to get together to the choir for singing traditional old songs.
All these empower us as a community. We are more and more like a big family, our parish’s family. This couldn’t have been done out of the spirituality we inherited.
By: Natalia Corlean
Bucium, Ţara Făgăraşului