We had been walking for about two hours, leaving the town of Dilijan behind, heading into the surrounding woods, when we saw the ancient stones marking the entrance. We were standing before the Matosavank monastery, built in 1247. “Let’s go inside,” I nudged Daniel, my son, who had brought me to this place.
It was dark as we stepped around the rough gravestones on the floor, a small window on one side, a tree growing out of an opening in the roof. Without trying I began to imagine life in this sacred space more than 750 years ago. Something touched my soul as I pictured the monks studying the wisdom found in the manuscripts taken from the book depository in the adjacent building.
Yes, I had read about the many monasteries you can find throughout Armenia thanks to its long history as a Christian country. Yet there is something very different being physically present in the very space where history played its tunes and carved its marks on the tree of life.
It had been the same earlier on our trip when we spent long hours in Dachau at the concentration camp just outside Munich. Being reminded of the unspeakable atrocities committed by the generation of my grandparents and their parents hit me particularly hard because I was right there, walking the grounds, standing in the very buildings that had been the scene of the suffering.
Each space carries its own energy, an amalgam of the events it has witnessed, present regardless of our awareness, yet made palpable by the stories we tell. Our sanctuary is one of those spaces where you can sense a history of powerful moments, of celebration and heartache, of nourishment and transformation, of ritual and much music.
Yes we can livestream a service, a performance or meeting. Yet there is a dimension that is missing. No wonder many of us feel a real loss at the thought of not being able to reclaim our sanctuary as fully as we had hoped this fall. May we all hold on to the knowledge that our sanctuary is patiently waiting for us, ready to receive us, ready to share its storied past, ready to host our future – just as soon as “that which shall not be named” can be tamed or retreats. 🙂
With love and hope in my heart as we start our twelfth year together,