Day 4 was incredible, full of Light work, monasteries, and mountains. We started out the day with a 9am check out and bus ride to the Rila. Beatriz called us forward into the Light in Portuguese, and the whole bus was still afterward. It was a moment of peace––what a great way to begin our journey and focus on Spirit!
On to today’s sites. Our first stop was the beautiful Rila Monastery. It’s the largest and most famous Eastern Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria. The heart of the monastery is the founder, Saint Ivan of Rila. He left the traditional monastic world to live a life of solitude and prayer. He became a hermit in a cave near the now monastery, and young people traveled to camp around him and receive a blessing. This is what led to the creation of the monastery––a place for his students to study the teachings of the Christ and tune inside at a time of political and religious upheaval.
Our awesome tour guide Costanza pointed out numerous features of the complex. First, above the entrance is a big bell and wood block for letting visitors know when there’s a prayer or mass coming (the monks walk three times counter clock wise around the monastery, ring the bell, and pound on the wood block to notify us that it’s church-time!)
Then, we saw the only standing part of the original monastery, a tall brick tower with a striking gold clock and ancient Bulgarian writing at the top. Costanza explained that the surrounding Church was rebuilt in the 1800s to hold the expanding number of monks and visitors inside. And, the rest of the monastery had been destroyed by fire right around the same time. What interesting history.
We walked as a group around the Church, witnessing different scenes in the multi-colored frescoes. There was a lot about whether a person was “good” and “bad” in these stories. For example, we saw angels keeping a list of who was paying attention in Church––and crossing the names of people off whose minds were wandering. Whew! At the end of this rich display, we saw a depiction of the Christ and Saint Ivan greeting us as the presence of love.
At the same time we were learning all of this, it felt like we were also acting Light bearers around the church facade and being used by the Spirit to bless and clear the space. As we went into the church itself, there was a cross on the floor and a number of us hugged in a circle right in the center, which is the spot people stopped to say their heart-felt prayers. A spontaneous column of Light! When we finished, other church visitors began to do the same thing!
Before we left, Costanza introduced us to one of the monks who currently lives in the monastery. They gave each other a big hug, and his eyes were so caring. What a lovely treat.
After this, Hristina took our group to enjoy a fantastic lunch at a riverside restaurant nearby. Imagine eating right by a creek deep in the trees and mountains. They served fresh trout and Bulgarian yogurt with jam. This was a nice time to simply be with each other, to connect with nature, and to receive nourishment by the local food and hospitality.
Then we were off to our next hotel––the Winter Palace (sort of funny, because it was about 90 degrees Fahrenheit today.) We had a few minutes to get settled in our rooms before we gathered down in the hotel seminar room for an amazing lecture on the Bogomils by Professor Damyan Pophristov.
The professor was lively and entertaining, and he spoke for almost two hours about the history and spiritual lineage in Bulgaria of the Bogomils and eventually the White Brotherhood. He was sharing many of the same teachings we have in MSIA, such as: the spark of God is within us, and that we each have a personal, direct connection to the divine. The essence of the teachings is love, and that is what the Traveler is all about! There’s also a focus on the wisdom of the feminine, Mary Magdalene, and the equal importance of men and women in the spiritual work.
We broke for dinner and then went back AGAIN to get our questions answered, and the professor’s wife explained the basics of the Paneurhythmy, the dance of the White Brotherhood. In the earlier lecture, he explained that our Souls needed to be liberated, and that this happened through music––a particular tempo of beats, two short and one long. This rhythm is what the dance is based on, and it’s a sacred movement of peace and love inside and for all the planet.
All in all, it was quite a blessed day! John Morton and Leigh were with us throughout the day’s activities, and John anchored a consciousness of loving for all as we walked together as Light bearers in the Rila region.
More to come, it’s time for bed and Sofia tomorrow…. Stay tuned.