When living in the midst of a thriving metropolis, few realize how fast and loud life is until they remove themselves from the stimulus. Having grown up on a ranch, with the closest neighbor being a cow, the bustle of Belgrade was a symphony of noise- blaring car horns, dinging trolleys and the never ending drone of a foreign tongue always pulsing thought the city. I must admit, it was overwhelming and intoxicating at first. This life of noise, concrete and a continual presence of people was as foreign to me as the Serbian language. The vast pastures I had grown up in were nowhere to be found in Belgrade.
Then I entered the church of the Ascension of Christ and for the first time since coming to Belgrade, I experienced the same feeling of unending vastness and remarkable wonder I feel when I am alone in the middle of some field. The blur of Belgrade life faded behind me when I stepped over the marble threshold into the cool narthex of the temple. Like the country bumpkin that I am, I gazed open mouthed in awe at the icons painted across the walls. A sense of peace washed over me, the distinct feeling one gets when they return home from a very long journey. A comforting silence filled the church, interrupted only by the foot steps of my companions and the sizzle of dying candles. Bright icons marched across the walls and ceiling, telling the story of my faith, the reason for this adventure.
It astounded me that though I was thousands of miles away from home, a familiar site was just a block from my hostel. Never before had I pondered how universal the Orthodox Church is. Though it is small, it permeates the world; similar in theology and service in every country that houses it. Far away from the familiarities of home, I am still able to enjoy the comforts of my faith.