Romanian Grace

The dragon sits by the side of the road, watching those who pass. Beware lest he devour you. We go to the Father of Souls, but it is necessary to pass by the dragon. -- St. Cyril of Jerusalem

09 July, 2007

sense of wonder

Coming back into Romania has given me a sense of wonder that usually is only experienced upon first exposure to something new. I say usually, but I think it should not be so. But I have been walking around Romania lately amazed by the place that I live and astonished that I actually live here. Driving reminded me of that. I go to the States and get a ticket for driving like a Romanian, and I come to Romania and get yelled at for driving like an American. I forget that aggression is the rule here. They would scoff at our defensive driving courses. In fact, I more than wonder if they do not penalize problem drivers with "offensive driving" courses. The instructor says, "Wait...wait...don't pull out yet...NOW!" While the oncoming Audi swerves into the next lane, throws up a gesture out of the window, and pulls back in in front of the student. "Well done. Now we work on roundabouts...."

There are also all the things that we get worked up over in the States, like making safe environments for children to play. Not so much here. I arrived back at my apartment to find the playground revitalized, and full of kids. They have this one piece of equipment I have come to call the battering swing. It is a hundred or so pound log hanging from a pivot by four steel supports. Kids stand on the log and get it swinging to a point that their feet are actually above horizontal. It also is designed to swing, at its point of greatest force (mass x acceleration) at about 3 year-old noggin level. Survival would be unlikely at best...but those toddlers should know not to walk in front of the battering swing.

I went running up in the mountains behind my home. I know missionaries are not supposed to do things that bring them great pleasure, or if they do, they are not supposed to tell about it. So we will just say that I was running to stay in shape and to pray in a solitary place (though missionaries are not supposed to lie, either). But I guess I started thinking back to...I mean praying about...the days when running really did give me great pleasure. I am sorry for people who are unable to experience such a thing, but perhaps everyone has such a thing in his life. Euphoric would not be too strong a word to describe running for me, I have decided. And in strange ways. My pulse elevates and when I am driving, say, on the freeway and see a dirt road curve up the side of a nearby mountain or hill. I have a hundred or so pictures in my mind of these ideal running roads that I will never get back to. This particular day in the mountains, I was exploring new territory, a new trail. Impossible to describe, and sacrilegious to pretend that a picture would suffice. Every step I ran made me want to go farther in that direction, farther from my starting point, and I quit caring about how long I was supposed to be running. I kept making compromises with myself on the time and distance of this run. "I'll just run to that...stump. Oh, I need to know what's around that curve ahead...what if the bottom of the hill is really just a minute ahead?" Things like that. It was as if I wasn't running at all. It was pure pleasure. I hope it was what Eric Liddle was talking about when he said, "When I run I feel the pleasure of God," except that he said it with a Scottish accent.

As I was walking back to my house after the run, my sense of wonder continued, even in my urban setting, when I saw this. Now, in spite of the fact that we are neither in NY, nor does this car belong to the PD, I guess NYPD just lends a certain credibility in the eyes of many of my countrymen here.

And, can anyone reading this site give me some help here (seriously) identifying this plant? It looks like one of my favorite plants, called Indian Pipe, which I have seen in the southern Appalachians and is beautiful, with near transluscent pink or white stems and petals. This is similar, but not quite the same. Any guesses?


At 17/7/07 06:39, Blogger saravan said...

A pleasure to read - thanks for sharing. Say hi to Derek and Shannon and the kids. I think I'm correct in thinking that they arrived this week.



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