Seeing as how today is Sunday, I thought I would post about the church in our village. This Orthodox church is acually the third and newest of the churches in the village. The oldest was built in the late 1700’s. Another just before the war. And this one about 15 years ago. It is a typical Orthodox church, built in the shape of a cross, filled with artwork and gold icons depicting images of saints and Christ.

Much of the Orthodox service is sung. The priest sings and a quartet of women usually sing along. Maria is an older woman in the village who sings for the church. She is always so sweet to me when I see her. She’ll kiss my cheeks, hold my hands, and stand really close to me when we’re talking. It’s after this close contact that she usually tells me she’s sick. She was in church on the morning I was taking pictures, and this is how our conversation went:

Maria: “Hello Susan, It looks like you’re taking pictures. Bravo.”

Susan: “Yes, it’s a beautiful church.”

Maria: (Smoothing her skirt out and fixing her hair) “Well you can take my picture next to God.” (Stands next to an icon.)

Susan: “Oh, sure, ok. Thank you.”

1 week later…

The phone rings in L and E’s house. E is cooking, so I answer the phone for her, something I usually don’t do.

Maria: (Seaking in a raspy voice) “Susan, this is Maria. You shouldn’t have asked me if you could take my picture.”

Susan: “I’m sorry, Maria. I don’t understand.”

Maria: “God is mad at me.”

Susan: “Why do you think that?”

Maria: “Because you took my picture in the church next to God. He didn’t like that so he took away my voice.”

Susan: “But Maria, why would he take away your voice? You sing so beautifuly for the church service.”

Maria: “I don’t know, but he won’t forgive me until you erase the picture. Please go right now and erase the picture. Please.”

Susan: “Ok, Maria. I’ll erase the picture.”