Second Spring

My friend Givorgy told me that the last week of March into the start of April was a beautiful spring in Belgrade with flowers popping up all around. Then the day I flew in, Tuesday April 4, snow dumped down on the whole city. When I woke up there was a blanket of white across the whole city, and I shivered as we wandered through the city, exploring with Lesley who had agreed to help me along on this trip. Traveling is never easy for me with my disability, and winters are never easy either. I had hoped for spring weather to visit my friend, but I got a different experience.

I still enjoyed every moment of my trip despite not being able to keep up with any tourist activities and needing to spend most of the time just hanging out at Givorgy’s apartment or in the hotel lobby. The whole ordeal of getting on a plane was worth it just for a couple hours in St. Sava’s. The Orthodox temple was just as stunning to visit this time as my first visit. Powell’s Books in Portland may be my favourite place in the whole world, but St. Sava’s Temple is a close second. On this trip, I was able to meet one of Givorgy’s friends who is Serbian and knows quite a bit about the Orthodox temple; she told me it is one of only a handful of churches to depict the creation story on the ornate walls. I love how Orthodox art is intentional with every inch and detail, and the day six image of Adam sitting before Jesus as Creator shows the breath coming from the Creator God into the man made in his image. It’s so beautiful.

There are some other really stunning stories depicted on the walls, and one of the largest is the harrowing of hell at the resurrection of Jesus. I spent plenty of time in contemplation before one prominent depiction of the crucifixion before situation myself to stare at the details of Jesus conquering death and bringing others to life. His hands each hold another person coming out of their grave. Because he lives, I too can live. I like the intimacy represented in how Jesus saves us.

The one touristy thing I managed the day after spending hours in the temple was visiting the national museum. I love museums, and this one had a large staircase at the front that had a fold down platform which was slowly raised up while I sat patiently on it. I am so grateful for the accommodation that made it possible for me to visit this very cool museum, but there was a profoundly sad moment for me as the machinery groaned while I sat passively and watched my best friend slowly step up on his own legs, slowing down to match the pace of the platform. Once we got to the top, we both got in free because of my disability; the employees were friendly and helpful, telling us to find someone to unlock the elevator whenever we wanted to go to the next floor.

I am so grateful I can still visit museums when they make accessibility a priority. I really wish that I could walk. Both of these things are held ever present in my mind. I am limited, but I still can do some things. My body doesn’t love being jostled around outside of my control, but I do not have to be isolated and removed from community. I got back from Belgrade on Saturday afternoon, and as we drove to the airport, the snow was all gone, and the city was prepared for their real spring to come.

After I post this, I’ll go repack my backpack to visit another friend for the remainder of my spring break. London’s forecast isn’t exactly a sunny spring one, but I get a chance to go somewhere new to spend time with people I love because Lissy knows my limitations and decided to spend her vacation time with me anyways. I spent Western Holy Week in an Orthodox country, and now as the Eastern church enters Holy Week, I’ll be in a protestant country that has finished their Easter celebrations. Instead of feeling like I missed both Easters, I actually feel like I get an extension of seeing God at work in the global church. I don’t travel a whole lot, but these two trips squeezed into my spring break are a chance for me to be with some of the people who help me love Jesus better. They bring spring and new growth into my life.

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