Roots of Armodoxy: The Story
After your first visit to Armenia, and especially once you make the rounds to the monasteries and ancient sites, you can’t help but ask, how come no one knows about this?
You’re in the first Christian nation. You’re standing in front of the oldest Christian Cathedral on Earth at Holy Etchmiadzin, you’ve maneuvered through the caves at Geghart, you’ve entered into a pit where the Miracle of the Illuminator took place, and just about anywhere and everywhere you turn there are stories and sights that are, well to use a very crude but descriptive term, mind-blowing! You’ve watched your share of documentaries on Discovery and National Geographic, and this is your first glance at these sacred shrines and holy spaces, that have somehow escaped the curiosity of Hollywood producers. Where ever you look, there are stories waiting to be heard. You can’t help but make comparisons: Etchmiadzin is 800 years older than The Cathedral of Notre Dame, Karahounj predates Stonehenge by 5,000 years. The vortexes here pull more than they do in Sedona. Where am I and why am I just learning about this? you ask yourself.
Visiting Armenia is a journey. It is not about facts and figures but about the mysterious flow of energy that moves through this land. There is really no way of explaining or expressing the resilience and the supernatural means by which this country and its people have survived against adversity, except by resigning to the fact that this is a story that needs to be absorbed.
I was standing with a group pilgrims at one of the sacred spaces in Armenia when a group of tourists walked by and I heard the tour guide explain the history of the monastery that stood before us. She was good. She was young, born in Armenia, spoke and articulated herself in English and weaved the history together, just as you would expect to read it in a textbook. And then, she and her group moved on. Unfortunately, her group didn’t get the story behind this marvel of architecture and faith. They received the history, but the story was not there.
You’re in Armenia. It is a small, land-locked country, at the crossroads of three continents. It is inhabited by a peaceful group of people who have tapped into the Power of Christ, in their witness and expression. This Christ force, is expressed in its history and its story. That is what you witness in these sacred spaces and it is the reason why this place has survived atrocities, perils and even genocide.
The story is what we understand as Armodoxy, that is, the essence of the history with a connection to our lives today. Inside the monastery, the churches and the sacred sites, stone upon stone have absorbed the prayers, the candle drippings, the smoke of the incense and the tears and laughter of the people for centuries. This is the story that we tell. It’s no different than your life. You are not merely a list of historical events, but you have your candle drippings and incense filled walls as well. Yours is a story of relationships, dressed by love, hurt, pain and joy. You are who you are because of the friends who sat next to you, to the hand you extended to your children, the mother and father who disciplined you, the love that hurt you. That’s your story. Armenia has a story that is at the root of Armodoxy. It is why we understand Christianity as a power that can move mountains and heal the soul. Armenia is the living expression of the Christian experience, and every corner you turn, that power and that energy can and should be tapped into.
Tomorrow, we fly with “wings” up to the Datev Monastery, overlooking eternity.
We pray, “Lord our God, open my heart to the wonders that are around me. Allow me to find the Kingdom that is within and without me, so that my story becomes a part of the story of Life. Amen.”