Empty-handed and less traveled roads. And other social media DOHs.
by Stan Faryna
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There are bloggers that I cherish, like, and fan – bloggers who have embarked upon a pilgrimage to fame, fortune, success, and happiness. They travel a road less traveled – in a manner of speaking.
These bloggers arrive at destinations (100 readers/month, 1,000/mo, 10,000/mo, 100,000/mo, etc.). They often arrive empty-handed with great expectations and hope. They move forward into empty-handed whole-heartedness. They move forward undaunted by disappointment and seemingly unrewarded faith, due diligence, and sacrifice.
They connect. They uplift each other. They do amazing things, day and night. They declare victory in the midst of the test. Again and again.
I relish and celebrate their courage, fortitude, and hutzpah.
The trials of these brave bloggers remind me of my own pilgrim’s progress. My disappointments. And my spiritual defeats.
Road to Cacica
I spent last week up in Cacica. If you’ve read my rough draft of a science fiction novel about the end times, the name rings a bell. Cacica is a small village in northern central Romania where my protagonist and his friends escape to when the world falls apart. The village is nestled amid rolling hills. Green rolling hills in the spring, summer, and autumn.
In Cacica, the roosters begin to crow a half hour before sunrise. By sunrise, trotting horses pull creaking wagons – rolling on automobile tires. There’s cars too. But not every family has a car. Every morning at 7 am, the church bell of the Catholic church rings out the motif of the Ave Maria. It’s very charming. For me.
Last weekend, 20,000 or more people (from all over the world) camped out in Cacica for the Catholic celebration of the Christian story of Christ’s mother’s body being taken into heaven. After her death.
Poles, Hungarians, Italians, and Czechs were the most noticeable of the foreign pilgrims. It was a large crowd for the little village with an actual population of 300 or less. The crowds left the next day. They almost seemed to disappear into thin air.
The official population may be in the thousands but anyone who can get out of Cacica or any of the other rural, nearby villages – get out as soon as they can.
There’s a salt mine in Cacica, but it doesn’t operate most of the time. Generally speaking, there isn’t work for people in the country. But that doesn’t stop people from bringing money home from their migrant labors (as poorly paid harvest workers, construction workers, prostitutes, or whatever… in Europe and Israel). People build new houses with that hard earned money.
I often wonder why.
I have beautiful ideas about starting a rural development project in Cacica that would define practices that preserve and utilize cultural traditions, crafts, and natural resources. It would also encourage rural economic sustainability and growth. I can’t realize those ideas alone, however. Any worthwhile project must begin with several millions of dollars. Three might do. But ten is the sweet spot. Yes, millions of dollars.
Some of the local people recognize me in Cacica. They don’t get a lot of Americans that come by again and again – year after year. Or going to their church, every day. The latter seems to be something that only the elderly do! And unusual suspects like myself.
Some are puzzled. They can’t imagine why I enjoy what seems to be the very foundation of their poverty: rolling hills, clean air, clean water, traditions, and their country hospitality.
“Why do you come here?” An old woman asked me just after telling me that I won’t find any boxed milk in the village. People don’t buy milk from the store. They own a cow if they need milk for their coffee.
“I come because the beauty of the land heals me. Because God has blessed this place. Because I feel God strongly… here.”
My answer touched her heart. It almost made her proud. Almost. Because she couldn’t really believe it. But she felt a little better about things. She smiled and went her way.
I could tell you about the chickens that hunted the lawn of the hotel where I was staying. Every morning. Or the hotel guard, an aged dog, that barked up a storm and refused to make friends with me. Or how the lack of air conditioning was harder on me than I had remembered from last year.
On this particular pilgrimage, I had no moment of enlightenment. No revered ecstasy. Instead, I found friends in troubles greater than I could solve for them. I met elderly people who were starving to death. And men broken by the hard times. Things had gotten bad. These were very hard times. It was the first time I had seen such suffering here.
Myself, I was tired, dehydrated, and struggling to be thankful for something. I really wanted to be thankful, but I found myself being thankful without heart. Not to mention that the first few days, I couldn’t get any kind of mobile internet connection and that made me very, very grumpy.
During the celebratory mass (service), an elderly woman put her hand on my shoulder to lean on me and then she pointed to the night sky.
A single long cloud crossed the full moon like a comet tail. This in an otherwise cloudless sky. She whispered that it was a sign. She whispered to me that I should make ready.
She told me that she had a vision of hundreds of stars falling from the sky. Like unripe figs.
But I was preoccupied with my growling stomach. I was looking forward to a bowl of soup at a friend’s house – just as soon as the celebration had finished.
A little boy tugged on my shirt and held out his hand in humble askance. He was hungry too. I gave him the equivalent of five bucks. He didn’t smile or say thank you. Actually, he looked disappointed, sad, and angry. He took the money and then took his mother’s hand as they moved through the crowd of the faithful.
Is there a lesson here?
I don’t know. Like I said before, I’m not a genius nor exceptionally intelligent. But if a lesson, message, or actionable motif is obvious to you in this recounting, please do explain it to me. That would be something for which I would be thankful with all my heart.
A friend asked me, today, to make a blog post slash podcast about anger, sorrow, and disappointment. This recounting of my recent pilgrimage is all that I had in me. This recounting is what comes to mind. This recounting and the first proclamation of the ten commandments:
I am the Lord your God. Exodus 20:2
23 August 2011
Faryna Podcasts recently produced by Adrian Klein:
1. Why do I blog: Faryna Podcast EP1
2. If Tomorrow Was Your Last Day: Faryna Podcast EP2
3. Money Can’t Buy Happiness: Faryna Podcast EP3
4. The First Duty of Love is to Listen: Faryna Podcast EP4
5. Are You Ready for Love? Faryna Podcast EP5
6. Reading The Desiderata. Faryna Podcast EP6
7. What is Love? Faryna Podcast EP7
8. Confessions of a Freak-Geek-Misfit. Faryna Podcast EP8
9. Do you love strongly? Faryna Podcast EP9
Faryna Podcast EP10 Information
Empty-handed and Less Traveled Roads by Stan Faryna. ©2011 Some Rights Reserved.
Produced by Adrian Klein. http://www.adrianklein.co.uk
Music by Adrian Klein. All Rights Reserved by Stan Faryna