Dating back to 1779, the Wooden Church from Bicaz, Maramures county, Romania, still mothers a congregation, and as tiny as it may be it still represents the heart of a community of people with dreams, and hopes, and stories to tell.
A Story inspired by the Wooden Church from Bicaz, Maramures
The church creaks as the five women stroll past; it isn’t the song of the wind that touches their sunburned faces. Their gait is hampered by age, their faces alight with the blessing of the moment.
The first one smiles as she touches the pillar by the wooden step. She’d made it through yet another day. Made it to the church stairs that have been set by her father, when she’s been but a fledgling. The meadow hugging the church was filled with dandelions that day and she’d filled her arms with them.
My hopes abuzz
The wind to blow,
My dreams to soar,’ she mouths the old rhyme.
Then the five women make their way between the ancient tree and the wooden church. The last one stops and rests her hand against the rough bark. Wrinkle on wrinkle. And smiles as she remembers the day she was asked, right here, to Sunday dance. It was by this tree. And the day she felt the first pangs of birth and leaned against its strong trunk. Yet not that strong for it didn’t hold her husband as he reached for his heart. Autumn last. She slaps her hand against the tree, It’s not his fault that her husband of a lifetime was gone. She sighs, it’s all she’s got left. And starts walking again.
The steps groan underfoot, the same sound that welcomed them since they were babes in their mothers’ arms. Brought here to be baptized. The same song that welcomed them on their wedding day. The same whisper of a prayer that matched theirs, as they brought their babies here for baptism. The same sob that escaped them as they climbed these steps to attend a funeral.
Five of them left.
They sit together on the porch, their feet barely touching the ground, as they did when they were lasses. As they did when they were maidens. As they did when clouds rolled on the sky, and bells sang people to the sermon.
They sit together, their common memory a thread that they still twist one more time. To hold as long as stars shine overhead.
Like the twisted rope engraved in the church’s steeple, to symbolize the strength of the sky.
Like the rosettes carved in the church’s wood, as stars, and the patterns of triangles that form crosses, like ribbons of stars. The promise of the afterlife.
Copyright © Patricia Furstenberg. All Rights Reserved.
You can take a virtual tour of this tiny Wooden Church from Bicaz, Maramures.
You can read more (in Romanian) about the wooden church of Bicaz, about Zona Codrului, Woodland Realm, and the project “Biserici de Lemn din Zona Codrului” here.