Spirituality

What strikes a first time traveler to the monastery of Visoki Dečani the most are not the beauty, peace and the quiet majesty of the Church, but the tangible sacredness of the place. Consequently, a traveler often transforms to a pilgrim and the journey opens up to new places and different paths.

If you are interested in exploring Orthodox Christian spirituality, your first point of contact in Italian language is a Dečani Hieromonk Andrej padreandrej@amicididecani.it  or Hieromonk Ambrose, a priest at the Orthodox Christian Parish "Bishop St. Maximus" in Turin padreambrogio@amicididecani.it.

This short story by our Association’s President, Paolo Rumiz, can also serve as an introduction to the spirituality of Dečani.

Dečani, four in the morning, the month of May. The wind sweeps in the scent of flowers from the mountains. Restless and annoying ticking breaks the silence and wakes me up. It is coming from the courtyard, adjoin to the church.

I look out the window. There’s a bearded monk, tall like a basketball player. He's walking around the church hammering onto a wooden board. The movement is mechanic. He resembles a soldier in breeches.

Then it dawns on me. It’s a symandron. I talked about it with a monk named Sava at dinner. It's an ancient instrument. It’s a fruit of a millennium of mimicry, perfected by defeated Christians; its call to prayer is a discrete one. It does not cause any irritation to the ruling classes.

And, here, in Kosovo, Orthodox Christians do not hear resounding bells.

It wakes me up nevertheless. I hear every sound - pattering of bare feet upstairs, sandals, echoing in hallways, someone panting while descending the stairs, gravel crunching in the courtyard, a door creaking, the echo of hammering on the walls around the church.

I also get out, fascinated by the sounds. I follow them almost blindly towards the glittering icons. Women in prayer sing. Instead of a drone of an Archimandrite I expected to hear, a baritone answers me thundering through the Regal Doors. Behind those terrible gates, sacrificial bread is being consumed.

Then, a wonder. At the first break of dawn, sound and light become one. A corona of rays of light from the eastern windows cuts through the cloud of incense forming a sort of pentagram around breaths of the chanting monks rising like a blue cloud while leaving traces of sharp and flat notes, suspended over the apse.

It is the Sun that reveals this wonder, everything has been built around this moment. The voice is calling the light in. The sound wakes up the gavel that once sought to inhabit a void live a hermit crab in its shell and is now waking up to the light of day.

And it is only the beginning. Soon the overflying sparrows, blackbirds and titmice join in and sing like crazy, praising the Lord.