Skip to main content

Flowers in the Metro

Russians have special traditions involving the buying and giving of flowers for friends and loved-ones. Students and friends here have explained to me multiple times that you one can only purchase and present odd numbers of flowers on special occasions like birthdays and holidays. Even flower shop owners will refuse to sell you an even number of flower stems in a bouquet - it's a very exact and delicate science here.  Even though I'd heard explanations and reasons before, they remained very nebulous and obtuse to me.  "You just don't do it."    

On Tuesday, the 30th of March, one day after the tragic metro explosions that shook the city, I finally grasped the full sense of those traditions.  As we boarded our metro wagon, I was alarmed to see passenger after passenger holding two flowers.  Young people had pairs of red carnations; older people had sets of two roses.  I have never in my experience in Russia thus far seen even numbers of flowers in the hands of Russian people, it is such social taboo; honestly, it was a bit unnerving.  These passengers, like Dan and myself, were traveling to the two metro locations which had been hit the day previous, to mourn with the city after the tragedy the day previous.  Memorials had been constructed at each metro location and near them, shrines of flowers, icons, candles, and mourners gathered to grieve together.  Even numbers of flowers are for these kinds of occasions:  when the unthinkable and unconceivable happen, when innocent lives are ended abruptly, when death comes unexpectedly and tragically.  I will never forget this poignant and living explanation. 

When we arrived at the first memorial, we bought our first ever (and hopefully last) pair of flowers to lay on the memorial.  The atmosphere was uncontrollably emotional.  We mourned with the city over these losses, unable to stop the tears, and unable to find consolation.


"At this place on the 29th of March 2010 on the wagon of the metro, a terrorist act occurred, resulting in the death of people. In this station there will be a memorial plaque."


Tragedy like this is alive and present in the hearts and minds of every person braving their daily commute on this metro which was just a week ago necessary even mundane, but now suddenly terrifying and anything but commonplace.  There was, one week ago, an unspoken social norm for riding the metro never to look at other passengers.  One could gaze blankly at advertisements, read one's book, or play games on one's cell phones, but looking at other people riding along was unacceptable.  But now, and who knows for how long, that social norm has been swallowed by fear.  Eyes of passengers flit from face to face, looking, wondering, fearing with whom one may be sharing a wagon.  Fear has descended over the city, it's dark grasp almost tangible over people here.  Please pray for us and for this city.

For I know that my Redeemer lives,
  and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
  yet in my flesh I shall see God,
whom I shall see for myself,
  and my eyes shall behold, and not another.
 My heart faints within me!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Maple Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Don't like brussel sprouts? No worries, these don't taste a thing like them! Our children asked for second (and third) helpings and as Dan remarked, they easily outshone everything else on the table. We took them to our Thanksgiving dinner as well as a Christmas party as they travel and reheat surprisingly well and complemented those more traditional dishes.

Ingredients:
2 slices bacon
1 lb. brussel sprouts (thawed if frozen) sliced in half
1/2 an onion sliced into thin loops
Salt and pepper to season
3 TB maple syrup 3 TB apple cider vinegar *optional
1/4 cup raisins *optional

Directions:
If using raisins, put them in a cup with the apple cider vinegar and set aside. (Raisins can soak over night for brighter flavor.)

In a cast iron skillet, cook 2 slices of bacon over medium heat. Remove bacon from pan to crumble once cool.

Using the hot bacon grease, add brussel sprouts and onion slices to the skillet and immediately season with salt and pepper. Adjust heat to medium low if…

Great-Pa

At the time, it tasted like the perfect combination of spicy salsa over scrambled eggs, just the way I liked it.
But now, I can see, it's not only enduring 8 ruckus cousins piled on the floor for the summer,  but making their favorite breakfasts for them each day.
At the time, it was glimmer of the holiday decorations around the house;  the lantern and lights were always bright, inviting, always welcoming to me.
But now, it's a man who fought for the right to celebrate holidays in this country  whatever way we please, and embraces that right.
At the time, it was the delight of finding the extra few treats on  Halloween that appeared in my pumpkin and seeing the hand which slipped them in.
But now, it's a man who is generous and kind to his children's children.
At the time, it was the joy of walking from Holly Hills to have candy with Grandpa after school instead of going home to carrots and apples.
But now, it's a man who enjoys life and enjoys making life more enjoyable.
At the…

Зарядки

Зарядки or “morning exercises” were a part of every good Soviet's morning routine. It's a tradition that continues to live on in most Russians' ideal schedule, particularly when traveling or vacationing in a new place. Hotels, camps, resorts all offer their vacationers morning exercise before breakfast each day. I decided that this would be a fun “optional” activity for our summer project, and apparently so did several other Summer Project participants - I was shocked when nearly 15 people showed up on our first morning! Every morning at 7:30, the brave fitness gurus and I would run together to the rocky shores of the sea for a 30 minute exercise routine I'd planned out the night before. We did just about every exercise I could think of, including, but not limited to the following: stretching, running, skipping, jumping, lunging, balancing, squating, push-ups, tricep raises, calf raises, holding a plank, leg extensions, wall sits, obstacle courses, and just about anyth…