Friday I had a free afternoon and ended up spending about four hours in the park, walking around, taking a few pictures and mostly people-watching. Something I realized as I watched all different types of Romanians walking past is leather jackets and sunflower seeds, two things found in abundance here, both make me think of Communism. Now, this might simply be the result of reading Ayn Rand's _We the Living_ about four times, but it got me thinking about what other things come to mind. And sitting there on a warmish spring day, it occurred to me that I could not imagine a country under Communism in the summer. I think Communism and I think winter, long lines, boots. I was talking to a friend about it and she said most people associate it with Russia and therefore Siberia, vast winters.
But there on the bench, some twenty-one years after the revolution, everyone rollerblading past and the trees starting to become green again, people out and about with their McDonald's and Coke enjoying the warm weather, I could not even imagine this place and its past being one thing. On the one hand, all the western imports do seem more like a thin veneer, a shiny western wrapping over something that is very much its own thing (not western, but no longer Communist--just Romania as it is, as a country and culture(s) in and of itself). And on the other hand, I am reminded of a very present past, something that for better or worse and in ways I have yet to learn, has done a lot of shaping of this place.
I know it sounds like I'm probably obsessed with Communism--honestly, I don't want to bring it up that much because I really do believe that we are not what we lived through, what we made it out of. Yes, it shapes us, surely. But with me, my identity lies in the God who saved me, not what he saved me from. And so with Romania: it's not just a post-Communist country (or any number of other things from its history you can identify it with), it is X, whatever X is and I hope to figure that out with time.
Yesterday I did my first really tourist-y thing here and went with a new friend to the People's House. The guide said a lot of really interesting things, one being that it didn't belong to Ceausescu, that the people were the ones who built it, whose taxes paid for it, and therefore it was theirs. After we left, my friend said that she was glad that it was something redeemable, that they didn't tear it to the ground but instead made something good out if it, owned it.
And that's it, right? That's what our God does. He takes barren women and makes nations, he takes raving murderers and makes the sort of evangelist who changes the world. He takes broken families and saves countries from famine. And then restores that family. I think of my brother, I hope for him. And I wonder what this looks like for this country, right now, because surely it is not a question of if it is being redeemed, but how? And I am excited to know.