Monastery Tour 2007
John and Luarsab set out to teach us just a bit of Georgian chant. They chose “O Holy God” (Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, Have Mercy on Us) The words, roughly transliterated:
We chanted this hymn in at least 8 of the churches we visited. The acoustics were absolutely incredible. These old Georgian churches—with their concave ceilings, and height, width and length in just the right proportions—indicate to me that the architects of old knew a thing or two that the modern world has forgotten. To chant this, in these old churches, never failed to send chills down my spine.
The above title came from a toast given by Jay, one of our tour group members. His description is apt.
Beauty—whether in nature, architecture or people—is always close at hand in Georgia, ready to be discovered anew. Jay is a Lutheran pastor who lives in Manhattan. He is also a displaced Texan. This bizarre combination makes him—if nothing else—eminently quotable. He also said:
“Georgia is a tiny country where everything is famous, fabulous, extreme...As such it is an icon of the grace of God; abundant, inexhaustible—a feast where all are welcome, where nothing which is given is ever taken away...”
I like that. I also like the following quote from Nikos Kazantzakis, a Greek writer who fell in love with Tblisi and Georgia:
“Handsome Georgians are careless, they’re fond of wine, war, women and freedom.”
And this quote from St. Ilia Chavchavadze (d. 1907):
“Christ our God was crucified for the sake of the world, and we likewise have been crucified for His sake. We bared our breasts for this small Georgia, and on our breasts, as on a rock, we erected a temple to the Christian God. Instead of stone we offered our bones, and instead of lime we offered our blood, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it!”