Page 977 - Kosovo Metohija Heritage
P. 977

The monks told us the martyric story of one of their number, Hieromonk Hariton, who disappeared in 1999. Later that year his body was found, bearing the marks of a violent murder undoubtedly performed by the KLa. One week prior to this trip i had visited the Black River Monas- tery and, just before leaving, i had been taken by one of the brothers to the grave of Fr. Hariton. The monks in Kosovo look to him as a New Martyr. Upon request, the Prizren monks gave me a printed account of his life in Serbian with the hope that it would be translated into english.
Finally, after lingering in our edifying conversation for more than a half hour past the time limit that we had been given by our italian guides, we had to pull ourselves toward the gate. This was difficult. i wanted so much to stay a few days and live their common life. i had come from the other side of the world and found brothers here so close in spirit, as if of one blood. exchanging lists of names for commem- oration, we passed outside the gate. as i walked toward the KFOR vehicle i briefly spoke with a German soldier, thank- ing him for protecting the monks. Considering the circum- stances, perhaps he was a little surprised to hear such words. i could see that he perceived something about our unex- pected joy amidst such an outwardly bleak scene-and that it had something to do with what was going on behind these walls by which he stood guard.
Final Reflections
as we boarded the four-wheeled tank, the sun was lower- ing beyond the surrounding mountains. at this moment and throughout our entire stay in Kosovo, we found our- selves surrounded by paradox. Here, a year ago, an inno- cent monk had been captured and brutally murdered. Here and in all the monasteries in this occupied zone, the Ser- bian monks, nuns, and lay Christians live without freedom- -as prisoners behind guarded walls. Outwardly, all is fallen, all is gray. But within-in this moment we felt great lightness and inexplicable joy. all around us we had witnessed hu- man injustice: an almost hopeless plight resulting from the NaTO bombing of a people who did not support Milošević and were then forced to abandon their homeland out of fear of terrorism. This was the human injustice i witnessed first hand. But right beside it i saw the justice of God: how, under the most unthinkable circumstances, Christ con- quers. He conquers not only war and all its consequent pain, but death and hell itself. The proof of this i had seen in the joyful face of the italian soldier Bassu, a reflection of the Christian love he had received from the Orthodox Serbs.
The onset of the Kosovo bombing threw the former Re- public of Yugoslavia into a crisis situation. The war brought them to see that it is vain to put their hope in any earthly prosperity. The assault by the U.S.-led NaTO forces has caused them to lose any remaining hope that deliverance
For all abandoned Homes
will come from the West. experiencing the loss of friends and family has reminded them that life is indeed very short. Like flowers on a grave, something beautiful has sprung up through these trials. Rather than being consumed with na- tional hatred and the desire for retaliation, they have turned in another direction-toward our Lord jesus Christ, the true Redeemer.
and while it is true that the Serbs want the interna- tional community to recognize the injustices done against their country, ultimately they are choosing the path of self- accusation. Led by the spiritual poet and national hero, St. Nikolai Velimirović, the Serbs blame their falling away from God as the primary source of their present and past turbu- lence. in the four days i spent in Kosovo and the two months in Serbia, i noticed one truly amazing thing: they do not harbor hatred and resentment toward americans. Consid- ering the recent war in which the U.S. and NaTO equipped and supported the KLa, i found this inexplicable and, in terms of human righteousness, impossible. This is what it means to be an Orthodox Christian people-to have en- dowed in the consciousness of a people a sense of repen- tance. This is something i not only found in the writings of St. Nikolai but also heard from the lips of the young gen- eration, who have used their national crisis as an opportu- nity to re-evaluate their lives.
One Serb, reflecting on the meaning of their recent cri- ses, has written: “it has taught many the necessity to look for reasons and the lesson that nothing happens without a reason. if one has learned anything, it has been that such stock answers as ’madness’ or ’insanity’ or ’evil’ just aren’t adequate. even more so, if one has learned anything, it is that finger-pointing isn’t the ultimate answer, either. Ulti- mately, free men and free nations cannot accept the notion that the causes of their fortunes or misfortunes lie outside themselves.19
Having myself witnessed this national repentance, i can say that much spiritual fruit can be expected to continue to come from Serbia in the future, and that we americans have much to learn from the Serbian Christians of past and present.
The Orthodox Word, vol. 37, No 3–4 (218–219) May-August 2001.
19 From “a Message from Serbia to Grieving americans” written by aleksandar Pavić only two days after the terrorist attacks on Wash- ington and New York. aleksandar Pavić, a U.C. Berkley graduate returned to Yugoslavia in 1990 to work for the abolition of Commu- nist rule in Serbia. He also served as a senior presidential advisor in the Serbian entity in Bosnia. For the complete text of his message to Americans, see ly.asp?aRTiCLe_iD=24461.

   975   976   977   978   979