Life on a Romanian Monastery: One Unforgettable Month

A Rainbow Appeared for a Brief Time one morning - just beyond the church's cross by Anika Mikkelson, Miss Maps, www.MissMaps.com
Romanian Monastery and a Rainbow
Romanian Monastery and a Rainbow

Nestled in the rolling hills of Romania, on the Western side nearer to the capitals of Serbia and Hungary than to its own capital city of Bucharest, you will find a winding gravel road leading to a small gathering of buildings. Each building is painted white, changing tones with the sun, and each is capped with a red tiled roof. The siding is hand carved out of wood from surrounding forests and built not to stun but to comfort.

Several main buildings are surrounded by a smattering of other, smaller structures. The largest edifice, four stories tall, acts as home, kitchen, workroom, laundry, study, cellar, and gathering place. Exit its main doors and to your left you will find a furnace stacked high with wood and fed constantly during colder months to keep the indoors at a comfortable temperature. To your right sits the most important piece of the property. It symbolizes the reason this community has come to existence and the place where outsiders frequently seek solace. Up the hill, you will find a row of individual buildings, measuring roughly three meters wide by three meters deep. Inside of each: a bed, desk, chair and bureau. Beyond them is a narrow dirt path leading into the shelter of the woods to a communal washroom. You will not find mirrors in any of these places, for vanity is not fed and looks are not as important as feelings and actions.

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Back down the hill are four more similar structures, different from the former only in that these are stacked side by side, each sharing a wall with another. There are two buildings near the driveway appearing as traditional houses, though inside they serve mainly as storage, opening up when extra shelter is needed for visitors. A kitchen, dining room, workroom and barn make up the rest of the buildings, along with several small blue, yellow and white houses which annually receives more visitors than the entire population of Romania. These visitors are buzzing bees, and are a source of external income for the mainly self-sustainable community. Finally, two greenhouses keep fresh produce growing even after Mother Nature’s frosted the ground with specks of ice water.

Cows roam freely, grazing where they like, whether it be the main yard, the garden (though this always leads to a chasing scene : man versus cow, to keep flowers and plants safe) or along the road leading to a nearby town. Dogs run about, rescued from nearby towns, they’ve since been given a home, food and shelter. They show appreciation and respect by greeting everyone with kind eyes while simultaneously guarding the premises from unwanted intruders like sheep and wild boar with echoing barks of warning. Each pup has his own unique characteristics, from the more lively to the more fierce, the more energetic and the follower who after being struck by a car is excitedly hopping on three legs and for the most part, managing to keep up with the others. One in particular will melt your heart: A gargantuan animal with enough fur with which to craft hats and shawls for the entire community if ever this was needed (or acceptable). His name is Bear, understandably so, and he can be found guarding his handmade dog house on the banks of a trickling stream lined with purple irises and yellow flowers too delicate to touch.

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There are chickens as well, fed and cared for by patient hands. When properly tended to, the eggs, dairy and honey from chickens, cows, and bees are enough to feed the little community. Fresh honeys, milk, cheeses, yogurt, eggs, and the occasional spread of fresh butter are all created, compliments of the farm animals and talented individuals working in the kitchen night and day.

Who lives here beyond the animals and bees? Who runs the land? A handful of incredible women. Talented, true beings. They are gracious, giving, accepting and knowledgeable. They have forgone the traditional city life that you and I are more attuned to, and instead have followed their own paths to this place on the edge of Romania’s Carpathian Mountains. They are ever moving, working around the clock like eager Energizer Bunnies, stopping for thrice-daily communal meals and prayers. They share an immense love of life and of laughter, and their sprightly mannerisms and ageless beauty will lead you to belief they have found the Fountain of Youth. Three men live amongst them: a skilled jack of all trades, a younger more quiet being, and the one who envisioned this place before its existence: The Father.

Each of these women are Maica: nuns living on this monastery for what will most likely be the rest of their lives.

With them, I lived, worked, ate, and learned for one month. One unforgettable month.

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Curious as to what happens next? You’re in luck! This is Post One in a series. Read the next, “Life on a Romanian Monastery: Figuring It All Out” to find out!

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15 Comments

    1. It really is a fascinating life. If you’d like to go and have spare time (more than a week is ideal) I can send you the details! Check out the posts about Poland too – you’ll find some inspiration there as well! Safe Travels!

    1. Really it was spectacular and I agree with you wholeheartedly. Romania has been such a treat to explore – my visa’s coming to an end soon, so after nearly 3 months, I’ll be saying goodbye in a couple hours. Will be back tho!! xxAnika

  1. I love following your posts on Romania! It’s high on my list to visit, and there isn’t as much information on Romania as other destinations.

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