Thursday, October 27, 2011

Talking to Father Iustin Parvu

One of my most surreal yet eye-opening conversations ever took place in the remote land of a forest oasis in the heart of the Carpathian Mountains this summer.

Romanian monasteries are well known for their instant quests into one-self-ness but this time was different. Surrounded by a good handful of people, I was diligently waiting for my turn to talk to and receive blessings from Father Iustin - probably the holiest man in Eastern Europe today.

Solid hours passed by: I took part in the morning lithurgy, then I was kindly invited to lunch by the nuns - food has so much flavour when eaten in simplicity - and then there came the long waiting. Each step was carefully taken, each time a little closer to the Father's humble room. Everyone was getting deeper into their own introspection. Words were useless anyway...And suddenly a group of tourists disturbed this silence - everybody was making way for them (it's tradition, by all means). Without waiting they were ushered next into the unpretentious room. The rest of us were skeptical - they were mere tourists without any connection to the process of self-ness we, the local people, were undergoing. As they were entering I was asking myself - are they gonna make anything out of this experience or just a tick on a sightseeing list of Romania? Eventually they got out - less cheerful and gay, more retained and pensive. Their eyes were alive with insight and meaning, their touristic giggle had turned into a subdued smile. I was proven wrong. They left in silence and respect.

After several hours my turn came. I had prepared my speech - fully logical and quite a mighty lengthy speech - well, such a complete waste of words! Here all was simplified to the quintessential. I got inside and sat in front of Father Iustin. He calmly looked at me and carefully searched inside my eyes - he got closer slowly and turned his head a little to the left as you would do with a magnifying glass to see the subject better - this time right into the furthest corners of my soul. He straightened up then and simply said: ''it's hard!'' - ''yes, it is.'' came my answer. Never had I been so subjected to a minute soul check-up! I spent 15 minutes instead of the five allowed for each one... Father Iustin quickly dropped all my civilisation shields I had been building for years: ''certificates are not important. it's the way you live your living moments that truly matters'', he said...

Here I was, one of the millions of people in a crisis today - the crisis of the soul, fundamentally. If only we could make this constantly our reason to go on - living our precious moments simply the right way.