Sunday, April 12, 2009

"Ris'n with Healing in His Wings"

The title of today's post is an Easter reference in the third verse of the Christmas carol "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing."

I awoke, ate breakfast, and read for two hours before bathing and dressing for church. Walking to the lot to get Klaus, I found its main gate well and truly locked, and retreated down the hill to Horea Street, where I found a taxi waiting to take me west to Manastur, and Calvary Church. The taxi driver was of Hungarian culture, but spoke idiomatic English, as he had worked construction for three years in New Jersey.

The old church (the first one was built here in 1060-63) was splendid in the bright sunlight of this perfect Easter morning. I sat in joy as the priest chanted mellow-voiced, and the choir sang beautifully in Hungarian. But the Mass is the Mass, and a Baptism is a pretty straightforward ritual, so I observed these sacraments with a joyful heart and spiritual comprehension, in spite of my inability to translate the liturgy literally.

Colleague Kinga Kerekesh had met me on the walkway up the hill to the church, and sat at my side during the Easter Mass. I was blessed by her beautiful soprano during the responsive chants.

The service ended with the congregation's unison singing of the Hungarian National Anthem, "God Bless the Magyars."

After church, Kinga and I went for our lunch to Chicago's Restaurant, a couple of blocks closer to downtown Cluj, in Manastur Gardens. Kinga hadn't known that I was a Chicago boy, but had known this to be the closest nice restaurant to her church. It was built by a man from Chicago, the waiter said, but sold five or so years ago to Romanain owners. The posters would have floored my brothers. The New York Central 20th Century Limited. The South Shore RR. The "L". On one post in the dining room was an old photograph of a familiar-looking piece of architecture, clearly of "The Chicago School." I went closer. Sure enough, it was The Rookery, the office building at 209 S. LaSalle Street that was famous as the only all-masonry skyscraper in Chicago, and the building in which my father's law offices had been when he returned to Chicago after his Navy years during World War II.

Our Easter luncheon opened with a Kerekesh Family ritual. From out of her purse Kinga brought two deep-red easter eggs. We were each to hold one, she explained, and bang them together to break the shells after one of us said, "He is risen!" and the other, smashing the eggs, "It is true!"

For lunch, I ordered steak. (What else, in Chicago?) And it was the best beef I have yet found in Cluj. But the meal, including soup and a salad, was too big to finish. Still, I will go back. Good restaurants are rare, and deserve to be patronized.

During lunch I asked Kinga about the Hungarian National Anthem at the church. "We sing it every Sunday," she said, "It has religious lyrics." There ensued a most interesting conversation on the difference between citizenship and nationality. I will not go into all my thoughts on this conversation, but they were many, and I believe I have learned today a new perspective on ethnic diversity, and on the Balkan/Central European mind as distinct from the American mind. I will share some of my thoughts with my Fulbright colleagues when we meet next month in Sibiu.

I close my Easter post with these wishes for my brethren and sisters in this land: May ethnic diversity be embraced! May His Healing mend all our hearts!

Spring Flowers and Leaves along the streets of Cluj


angad said...

happy easter :)

Dr Zach said...


Thanks for your frequent posts and our enlightening conversation regarding your Easter experience.