Day 8: The village. Church.

Women and men enter the village church, built in 1798, separately and sit on opposite sides. Some of the women are in modern dress, Ibi in a colorful blouse, gold necklace, short haircut and slacks, but the old women wear long skirts and headscarves. The men wear short-sleeved shirts and dress slacks, some—fedoras or bright white embroidered shirts with embroidered black vests, no ties. Thomas and the new Transylvania mister, twenty-nine year old Laurent, walk in last wearing black robes. They take turns in the pulpit under the opulent pulpit crown. Levente translates: One language—love. After the sermon, Laurent and Thomas sit together in a pew. Laurent strums a guitar, while Thomas improvises on a Native American flute, the only time smiles and cameras appear during the service.

After church, we retire to the village center. Men shake the hands of other men, I forget and shake the hands of one or two, they generously accept my ways. Normally the men kiss my hand, a charming tradition.

Two kettles of gulyás have been cooking for hours over a fire. The men assemble tables and benches under the oak trees; the women set them with tablecloths and china, small palinka glasses, homemade red and white wine in water bottles, baskets of the fire-baked bread, and bowls of cabbage salad. Also, a platter of vegetarian foods rests on the table: eggplant mash, boiled eggs, battered yellow squash, mushrooms, tomatoes, cucumbers and yellow peppers. Surprisingly, there is a Hungarian vegetarian, a Hare Krishna that had left the town.

Finally, I settle into the pace of these gatherings. Hours drinking and eating, someone bursting out in song. Friends talking and laughing. The men will not let the cups run dry. One fellow with a magyar (Hungarian) mustache, black trouts on either side of his mouth, sneaks behind Thomas and pours more wine into his cup. Soon, Thomas is singing.

I join a table with people I have never met and yet cannot call them strangers. Levente translates. One of the men expresses their good wishes to the people of St. Louis. Maybe the wine, maybe because it means so much to the small village, tears stream down his cheeks and also of old Calman beside him. Many have never been out of the village, or boarded a horse cart. Horse carts are still a regular feature on the roads.

One young man speaks perfect English; he lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and is the brother of the Hare Krishna. He too left the village as so many people did when the communists took over. Transylvania was so isolated, he did not even know that there were languages outside of Romanian or Hungarian until he was fourteen.   Furthermore, the Romanians tried to oppress Hungarian. Levente explains a deluge of Western literature and new ideas came to the people. In Hungry the young man, who had previously had a promising career as a chemist, was approached by the Hare Krisna and gave up his career. A third brother, who remains in the village, has prospered building green houses and now employs twenty villagers. He could not understand the brother who gave up his career. The thin, young pony-tailed man replied, “You take care of the body, our brother the mind and I, the soul.”
The village accepts him. Levente, who is also worldly, said that he would try to make connections for him in the service when he was minister here. Also, that when he first came to the United States how he was shocked that a UU minister said that she was a Unitarian Universalist Buddhist, “but slow by slow” he came to see that Universalism, which the Hungarians do not subscribe to, is a bridge.

The brother, from Phoenix, said the village bustled with people when he was young, but now is so small. However, the Nolans, who visited four years ago, see a great deal of growth: indoor plumbing, the remodeling of the minister’s house and houses newly covered in bright plaster: orange, lime, and rose. Purple and white flowered trees lining the road to Colman and Ibi’s house; who both work, although Colman on the farm. A cell phone rings in church.

After dinner people drift away, and the women wash dishes. Finally, we sit in a circle of the core community. I look at each tanned and rosy face. Realize I have fallen in love. We sit and talk, and hours later, unbelievably, two quiet tables are reset under the trees for the remaining guests and hosts. We sit as the telehold (full moon) rises. Six storks return to sleep in their great nest perched on a high tower. We talked all day, but there are no words to express this journey.


One Response to “Day 8: The village. Church.”

  1. stanley Veyhl Says:

    Great! I hadn’t realized how eloquent you can be. Thanks.

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