Thursday, October 26, 2017

Ludke Visits the Solovetsky Monastery

Apparently Chicago's climate is too mild for my friend Ludke.  She's always traveling to the less temperate places in the world - including this journey to Nepal that I recorded here ten years ago.

This Summer, she was off to the arctic circle by the shores of the White Sea - about  650 miles due north of Moscow.  Damn - but that must be a very cold place.

Though as you can see above - it can be quite beautiful -- in a grim sort of way.

The only people crazy enough to live there would be religious fanatics.  Knowing God as a cold, judgmental, and rather distant character -- that's where some monks went looking for him about six hundred years ago. And they built a monastery on the Solovetsky islands.

It's astounding to me that anyone would want to build a home here - and even more astounding that anyone would want to take that home away from them.

But that's why the monastery needed such thick, heavy walls.

Despite them -- the place has been besieged and sacked many times over the centuries that followed.

How did the monks keep these buildings warm in the arctic winter?

As you can see - some areas are still in need of restoration.

And some areas need repair more than others.

Being so cold, dark, remote, and forbidding -- it was an ideal place for the Tsar to send political prisoners.

Comrade Lenin turned it into the USSR's first Gulag.

Above are some relics from that era.

This hall seems to have been recently restored.


Here's the best reason to go there.

Obviously, this gallery is glorious -- but from these photos, it's hard to tell the quality of the paintings.  They seem to come from different eras.

I might become a monk myself -- if I got to live in this room.

What could possibly be behind this doorway
that is anywhere near as wonderful as the doorway itself?

It's like all the poetry, music, and art
that marks the path to eternal salvation.

Even if there is nothing behind that door
 other than a brick wall,
it was still worth building it.


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