St. Sophia’s Cathedral

We wake up reminding each other that everything will work out.

Idealistic thinking?  I don’t know.  But it sure makes the day pass more quickly.  Whatever happened to my Momma Zen moments (please see previous post by that title, if you’re stumped)?  I’m trying.  I’m really trying.

Around noon, we head down Khreschatyk and through Independence Square (a large open shopping area that used to be known for the Place of the October Revolution, but is now better remembered for the Orange Revolution of 2004).  On one end of the square is Kiev’s newest Monument of Independence, erected in 2001 to commemorate the first ten years of freedom from the Soviet Union.

Monument of Independence, Kiev

Along the southern sides of the square are tables laid with souvenirs.  Underneath the square is the underground mall–clean and sophisticated.

We choose a small street off of the square, and once off the beaten path, it’s suddenly quiet.  Ahead, we can see the shiny gold domes of St. Sophia’s above the leafy tree tops.

St. Sophia’s Cathedral is Kiev’s oldest standing church.  We pay to explore the main church and to climb the bell tower out front.

The main church area is really a study in layers.  The original church was built in the 11th century, and you can still see its original foundation in places and the various brickwork patterns used underneath the modern grout.  The main room is diffuse with sunlight from above, and at the front is an ornate gold altarpiece.  Rounded doors lead to numerous alcoves, and a very steep staircase winds up to the second story “lofts” that wrap around either side.  In one upstairs room, there’s a fantastic mosaic of Christ and His twelve disciples, shimmering with gold highlights.

It’s astonishing to note that the frescos and artwork on the church walls mostly depict the first royal family and scenes from their lives, not merely Biblical scenes, similar to all the other churches in Europe we’ve visited.  Because of this, during Stalin’s era, St. Sophia’s was given cultural and political significance, and thus it was spared demolition.  Just down the street, St. Mikhayil’s Monastery of the Golden Domes was obliterated during Stalin’s destruction of 1937.  The newest version of St. Mikhayil’s was done in 2001.  We plan on going there tomorrow.

On our walk home, we stop at a kiosk in the underground mall.  We’ve been told by the concierge at the Hyatt that it’s the only place that sells English magazines.  A bit of backstory is needed.  Dan laughs at me whenever we pack.  Truly, when we go to St. Barths, I pack at least half a suitcase with books (where is a Kindle when I need one?).  This always makes us exceed our luggage limits, and we have to pay a fee.  Well, long story short, I decided to travel very light this time (when would I possibly have time to read?), and only brought a couple of New Yorkers and my Poets & Writers magazine.  I finished those long ago.  I’ve already read Dan’s bring-along book (The Portrait of Dorian Gray and Other Stories by Oscar Wilde), and I’m working on the other (Alexandre Dumas’s One Thousand and One Ghosts), which I’ll probably finish tonight.  Hence, the magazines.  We already feel like we’re grossly disconnected from what’s going on at home, and of course, we completely missed the Republican Convention, having only barely caught the DNC before leaving home.

So, there you have it.  Another day in Kiev, hopefully a few days closer to finding our child.  Or not.  Either way, we’ll have to be okay with it.

I really am trying to stay on track with the Momma Zen moments.

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The quote I live by

Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.
--Rainer Maria Rilke in Letters to a Young Poet

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