Pig tongue and icons

This morning we walked to church. On the way we stopped into an Orthodox church. It was visually overwhelming with every surface painted with iconography and incense in the air and everything was sung or chanted. There were no seats except for a couple of benches for the infirm. Everyone just picked a place and knelt. We stayed for about 5 min and then went on to our church. The church building was fairly nondescript and inside were just white walls and a tile floor and a balcony where we sat at the back so that we wouldn’t distract everyone with the translation. The song melodies were familiar hymns and contemporary choruses and I was starting to understand how to pronounce Romanian a bit better by the end and what the different marks on the vowels and under T and S mean.

It was a huge contrast with the Orthodox church. From the format of the service to the visual look of the building and probably to the hearts of the congregants as well. Christina is a roommate of our translator Cami and she grew up in an orthodox church. John noticed at one point while we were walking between churches how much everyone was gesticulating and I was asking what the flowers were for that one boy who looked to be about ten was taking to the front. She said they were singing prayers for dead relatives and for the heroes of Romania. Then she said something that took us back a bit. “They have now idea what they are doing or why. If you ask them they will tell you ‘because we have always done so. We are preserving the faith’. She said the priest would most likely tell you the same answer, ‘Because it is so.'”

She said she did the same things, going through the same motions and singing the same chants for years and never had any idea what it was about.

After the 2 hour service we went to lunch at a restaurant that serves more typical Romanian food. John ordered pig tongue and he let me have a bite. We both agreed that it was very tasty and unbelievably tender.