Monday, November 14, 2011

From Russia with Love

Христианская не прощаемся, мы говорим: "Пока мы не встретимся снова." К. С. Льюис

(Christians do not say 'goodbye'; we say, 'until we meet again.' C. S. Lewis)

"The Church is not a temple or a building. The Church is a community of God's people."
Rev. Ludmila Garbuzova, pastor of the First United Methodist Church of Moscow upon visiting Mississippi again this week.

My heart is filled with her music and that shared by Valentina, as well as folk tunes with Ivan and the two Elenas. Russian music is filled with both power and tenderness; such darkness and richness in minor keys fill in the spaces where lilting tunes might prevail in North America. My untrained ear tells me that even in familiar music, she changes chord structure to create more depth and intensity in the accompaniment, though the melody line is the same.

She says it best in a beloved Russian-tinged expression: "It is AMAzink." Amazing Grace indeed.

My daughter and I took conversational Russian language and culture a few years ago, and I at least had been exposed to rudimentary phrases for travel and greetings, but upon meeting our guests this week, I suddenly forgot anything I might have known and stifled the broken Spanish phrases that dared to surface. How embarrassing! I had to laugh at myself. My one chance to show a touch of hospitality and kindness to visiting Russian friends, and I blew it.

But warm hugs work in any language, no translation needed. Eyes speak when words do not flow. There is a language of the heart all its own. Why do we not used it more often? Sometimes our words just get in the way. There are those beautiful moments that come to us in life when we get to be present and connect with others on a plane that transcends conversation. This weekend was filled with a string of those beautiful moments laced together in memory.

Ludmila speaks lovely English and shared the amazing story of a dream that would not die. Stay tuned....I can't wait to tell it.

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