The Exaltation of the Divine

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Fruška Gora, Serbia – April 2012

On a gentle mountain in northern Serbia, there are many holy places. They call this one Krušedol. It is said that there are 500-year-old frescoes in this sanctuary. This is why I have come.

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Monks glide through passageways and courtyards. Soft footsteps and the swish of long, black robes. They are stately presences, but visitors are welcomed with a humble bow of the head.

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Inside the main chapel, a baptism is taking place. A lone chandelier, candlelight, and dust-speckled sunrays illuminate the rich primary colors. The baby’s screams drown out the priest’s monotone chants. I’m told that I can go no further than the entryway. I lower my head and step back, stifling my disappointment. There are frescoes in the entryway, too. Peeling and slightly faded, but still vivid.

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I lift my eyes and stare into the faces of ancient saints. The paintings that I’ve seen from this era, in books and museums, have been two-dimensional and lifeless. There is a soft benevolence in some of these expressions. And is that a twinkle of amusement that I see in their eyes?  The expressions vary – in others I see apprehension. We tend to create and recreate that which we understand. Those were turbulent times.

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The frescoes cover every corner, sweeping across the ceiling like holy constellations. The result of days, weeks, months spent in communion with the creative force. I imagine the artists, elevated and contemplative, escaping the earthly realm through exaltation of the divine.

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24 thoughts on “The Exaltation of the Divine

  1. Oh, your photos bring me to where you are.

    As you know, my thoughts have drifted to mythology this year. And one question that keeps coming to mind is – how do we pass on or preserve spiritual legacies, in a world that moves ever faster. In our existence, we are restricted by location and time. We acknowledge that there are some spaces that are sacred. Even some that our uniquely ours! Thank you again for a insightful dialogue.

    “Your sacred space is where you can find yourself over and over again.” Joseph Campbell

    • As the world moves towards being more technological and less spiritual, more virtual and less tangible, preserving sacred spaces is no longer a priority. Unless the masses realize the importance of having a physical place to meditate, a day will come when there is no such thing as a sanctuary. It will be impossible to truly have any privacy, even privacy of thought. I am thankful that I have been able to experience the wonder of such places.

      • I agree. Whenever I leave these places, I am filled with a profound sense of gratitude for what I have experienced. I know that I must move on, but I leave having been forever changed.

  2. Beautifully done, Julie. So much reverence in life in general is no longer in existence. These images really show and feel that reverence. Thank you for posting this! LOve, Amy

  3. such vivid colours these photos have… they’re just beautiful. I can breath the mystical atmosphere … meeting the divine always make me think with gratitude about the life gave to me.

    • Those colors are the most deeply vivid that I’ve ever seen, especially for being so ancient. Places like this also make me contemplative about why we’re in this world.

  4. The title goes perfect with the story and the frescoes, you have a way of doing that with the posts. The frescoes are so vivid but is true their are showing us the story of those turbulent times.

    • Thanks, Doris. It’s interesting how there are different expressions on some of the frescoes.It made me wonder if the peaceful expressions were painted during calm periods and the stern, anxious ones were painted while the monastery was in danger from Ottoman troops. There’s no way to know for sure, but I found the contrast striking.

      • Yes, it is a bit obvious.
        I forgot to tell you that I got hacked in my email
        I do not know if you saw it , I erase it just in case. Will get a new one and tell all my friends.

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