Saturday Morning Post
This morning began early. I wanted to talk to my dearest of all friends, Brian Carlisle before he went to bed, so I had to be up before 5. Normally I consider such behavior to be unhealthy if not outright sinful. I hope he was as encouraged by our conversation as I was. I am going to have to find some other means of calling than pay phones when the weather drops to negative integers.
As early as I was up though, I seized the opportunity to hike my favorite mountain, the Magura (pron. MUG-u-ra (I think)). It was till dark when I started up, so I was assisted by my headlamp. The temperature was in the mid-forties or so, perfect hiking weather. As the sky lightened, I came into a field, from which I caught a glimpse of the top of the mountain, which is around 4,000 feet in elevation. It was dipped deep into a low silver cloud, but below it, where the mountain fell off into the valley, trees were capped in copper and gold.
From that field I ascended steeply a trail hidden by gold the trees had unleaved. I shed my toboggan and long-sleeved shirt, though the temperature was dropping, if anything. MY temperature was certainly not dropping. When I crested that hill, I came to a rock outcropping on my left that was very easily scaled. The trail to the top bent to the right, but I opted to stay a while and catch the sun rising out of the lower clouds from this spot. At a later date I will include the prayer I read that morning from The Valley of Vision, a delightful collection of Puritan prayers. My Bible reading had brought me to Psalm 84, which reads:
How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of Hosts!
My soul longs for, yes, faints, for the courts of the living Lord;
My heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.
To think, how lovely was the sight before me, the rising sun gilding the already God-gilded leaves that pooled in the folds of the mountains; and how much more lovely still must God's dwelling place be. So much more that the psalmist goes on to say:
One day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.
Truly, I can say that there was no place on earth I would rather have been this morning than on the Magura, on that rock, in silence before the ascending sun, yet there is a more beautiful place still....
It is a good thing that I made that my dwelling place for that morning, anyway, since when I got to the top the fog had not cleared in the least and I could only see, maybe, 20 feet in front of me. I did not stay long before I headed down the mountain on a trail I had not taken before but hoped would bring me out at a certain place in Codlea. I don't know to date where that trail ends up. It brought me out into a field a tenth of the way down the mountain, and it was not possible for me to find the trails continuation at all. I searched for may be 45 minutes before I decided to subscribe to an ancient bit of wisdom: down is out. I proceeded then to do a very Romanian thing, and something I would never have done in the States. I ducked into the trees, pointed my boots downhill, and ran, slid, and tumbled down until I hit a trail. From there it was easy.
One last thing. I decided today that I LOVE Romania. I was walking on a side road back to my apartment building when a line of cars with blaring horns coasted by me and down another side street. My curiosity could not resist following them, especially when I heard a brass band crank up. All the cars had stopped at one house and blocked the road entirely. I could not tell where the drivers had disappeared to until I remembered a wedding tradition here, that the entire wedding party goes to the bride's house to pick her up and take here to the courthouse to have the official papers signed before her wedding.
So. I was standing there, an obviously American hiker filthy from sliding halfway down a mountain. My hair was dishevelled from my hat, and I had blood in one of my eyebrows from a knock I had taken from my hiking stick. And out came a lady with a plate of homemade pastries. Behind her follwed a man in a suit with a tray of glasses. Everyone on the street was offered food and drink, INCLUDING THE DIRTY AMERICAN WHO CAN'T EVEN SPEAK ROMANIAN. Not only that, but the pastries were delicious, and the glasses were filled with chilled white wine. This hiker could not believe it. They even came around for seconds. People would walk up the street, presumably on their way home or to work, and the lady would rush to them before they could get by and insist that they take a pastry. The guy with the wine did not take no for an answer. Amazing.
I turned to the Romanian man next to ma and said, in my best bbroken Romanian, "Is this normal in Romania?" He gave me a look that inquired something as to my planet of origin and said, "Da. Sigur (of course)."
Days like this make me thankful for my calling to this particular mission field.