Posted by: ritagone | August 20, 2014

My Last Blast About Russia

Russia

“On a visit to Leningrad (St. Petersburg) some years ago I consulted a map to find out where I was, but I could not make it out. I could see several enormous churches, yet there was no trace of them on my map. When finally an interpreter came to help me, he said “We don’t show churches on our maps.” Contradicting him, I pointed to one that was very clearly marked. “This is a museum,” he said, “not what we call a ‘living church.’ It is only the ‘living churches’ we don’t show.” – E.F. Schumacher (British economic theorist and philosopher -1911-1977)

 

“Every traveller to Russia seems fated to describe vast spaces, an extreme climate, and the extraordinary drinking capacities of the Russian male.” – “Red Fortress: History and Illusion in the Kremlin” by Catherine Merridale.

 

I could go on and on presenting to you amazing and provocative quotes about Russia from books and magazine articles and those who have visited this vast and mysterious country.

What is it about Russia that I and so many others find so captivating? Because, truly, of all the countries I’ve been to (and granted, there are quite a few I haven’t been to, in Asia, Latin and South America, but I have seen much of Europe and North America), I find Russia to be the most fascinating and intriguing, the most complicated, surely, and the largest, for sure!!

Right now I’m reading a book about the four Romanov princesses, daughters of Tsar Nicholas II, who were all assassinated together in 1917 when the Bolshevik Revolution escalated to the point that the leadership felt that allowing the Tsar and his family to live was a political and logistical mistake. The book, entitled “The Romanov Sisters,” by Helen Rappaport, tells the life stories of these four young ladies who never were allowed during their short lifetimes to experience much of anything because their parents (Nicholas and Alexandra – their mother was the granddaughter of Queen Victoria) lived in fear, ironically, of assassination. Then, when they were put under house arrest, their world shrunk even more from palaces and fine homes to a small house with minimal servants to look after them. (You can see this story played out cinematically in the great movie “Nicholas and Alexandra,” which won many Academy Award nominations in 1971 and really fills out this time in Russian history, if you’re interested. And of course if you are as fascinated by the Russian Revolution as I am, there’s always the movie “Reds,” 1981, which was co-written, produced, directed by and starred in by Warren Beatty. An interesting insight into the men who brought Communism to Russia and did away with the tsar, from the viewpoint of an American journalist, John Reed. Again, great moviemaking, and judged by the American Film Institute as one of the Top 10 American films in the “epic” genre.

All of this to say: Russia is not only fascinating to me, but she has been intriguing to writers, historians and filmmakers for decades, even centuries. There is so much to see, so much to learn about this country, in her major cities, that you could spend literally years in only one of the museums housing relics and precious items from her past. The guidebook to the Hermitage in St. Petersburg (the Winter Palace of the tsars, built by Catherine the Great in 1764), for example, carefully notifies the reader that it would take 11 years to see everything that is available for viewing there if one were to stroll leisurely through the vast number of rooms and really soak it all up.

That’s only one historic place in one city in Russia!!

But beyond the locations there are the people of Russia, and I must confess to having a special place in my heart for these dear people. They have suffered so much as a nation (much of it brought on by their own evil systems and self-centered leadership), yet they have a rich heritage of emotion and appreciation of the fine arts. Ballet, literature, classical music have all thrived in Russia over the last three hundred years. Scientific achievements have been stellar. While the average citizen has enjoyed little of the benefits of the latter, still, many great minds and thinkers have come out of Russia in modern times.

But even better are those Russian people who have been redeemed by Jesus Christ. They seem to have a genuine zest for life and an appreciation for the fact that they have been rescued from a life of potential nothingness and brought into a life of spiritual richness. Many have a keen sense of what it means deep down to belong to Jesus. Maybe this is because so many of them have been displaced as children or young adults, so many have parents who have divorced or separated, and so many of them battle the demons of drug addiction and alcohol abuse. The statistics are staggering for these things. So while we are horrified about the abuses, they do cause people who really do “come to Jesus” to appreciate even deeper what it means to have a relationship with the Savior. Their lives truly are turned around, turned inside out, and saved, and you can see it in their eyes and in their smiles. They now have something profound to live for whereas before they did not.

I am praying for the stamina and good health to return to Russia in 2016 and maybe years beyond that. I miss my friends there, I love seeing something new each time, and I am struck with wonder and awe when I turn around in circles and see churches and buildings – inside and out – that are a part of the history of this amazing nation.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the last few weeks of my blog as I’ve shared with you just a tiny slice of what went on and what we all experienced on our July, 2014 trip to Russia. It’s a trip I won’t soon forget.

Please, pray for the spiritual health and physical safety of Russia as you pray for your own country.

 

 

 

 

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Responses

  1. Rita, I am so impressed (and not just a little envious) of your intelligence and attitude when it comes to taking advantage of life. I don’t know if that makes any sense to you, but it does to me. And I appreciate your sharing it with the rest of us the way you do. Keep it coming. Cathy


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