We didn’t know where we are going and what we should expect. The only thing we knew is that there is something interesting. Taking a taxi in Syria was very easy and super cheap, even when you pay 10 times more because of being a tourist. We just said the name and driver brought us to the place.
Where are we?
We arrived to the mountains and in the darkness we had to find a path going up. Isolated from any town, 80 km from Damascus, on the top of the hill sits like a fortress – monastery Mar Musa.
Even though it is huge you can enter there only through very small hole, were you have to lean or crawl to get in.
Inside opened for us large corridor with temple on the left, from where we heard sounds of the celebration. Someone said that we should leave our backpacks and join them, so we did.
They put us to sit just next to the priest. Non of us understood neither the language nor the religion they cultivate. We saw everywhere carpets and people sitting on the floor without shoes, like in the mosque. On the other hand the mass looked more like Christian, we were not sure what kind though. Walls were full of beautiful frescoes showing scenes from the Bible. We felt quite ashamed not knowing how to behave and where we had come. Due to certain circumstances we came to Syria quite spontaneously, not prepared well about places we are going to visit, so it was quite a surprise.
When the celebration reached communion priest asked us to participate but we were so confused and refused the proposition. After the mass we proceeded with all the other people to another part of the monastery, where we had supper. Very tasty and home-made food prepared by locals. Indeed, the most amazing white cheese I have ever tasted!
After that we were divided into groups of around 10 people and some of them started discussions about life, God and spiritual existence. I was feeling little bit like a Jehovah followers are questioning me. Later this strange experience one man told us to sleep in the church, because there was no more free rooms in the monastery.
In the morning we finally saw the place in the full light as well as learned information about it. Fortress was perfectly masked, because it is made from same rocks as the surrounding mountains. I really don’t understand why there were millions of flies! It was unbearable! Maybe they were brought to practice strong will and patience of the newcomers…
Everyone is welcome
Mar Musa Monastery used to be a Roman watchtower to observe the way from Damascus to Palmyra, being also on a silk road. The legend says that monastery was established by saint Moses the Abyssinian in VI century. It is a Syrian Catholic Church which is truly involved into multi religious dialog. Everyone is welcome to come, just visit or stay longer to clear the mind, pray and talk with people. There is no fee, everyone can give what he wants, money, food or prayer.