Ravna Gora townThings revealed in the mist…  A sense of mystery unfolded… The imagination of a rich history.  

Everything laid out before you at the beginning ruins the secret, dampens the mood of exploration.  This has been a theme of the best things in my life. It’s a theme of human history, art, spirituality…   After days of hiking, I descended the Inca trail onto the best, most famous viewpoint of Machu Picchu in Peru, only to find it completely fogged in.  “This is terrible!” we exclaimed. “All this travel, all this money!” But slowly, the fog lifted, but fortunately, not completely.  

Two years ago, during our trip to Croatia with Mary, my wife, and her youngest daughter, Abby, we saw the best tourist sites.  They were well worth it. However, on the way back to the capital to catch a plane to Paris to drop Abby off, we decided to take a detour to visit the tiny little town where Mary’s grandparents were from.  It would not be on any travel list. It was a logging town in the low mountains, looking much like West Virginia, where the grandparents later immigrated to. They had traded timber for coal. A bad trade in my opinion.  As we got close, the road went through a couple of long mountain tunnels. Croatia puts roads through the center of mountains like no place I have ever seen, perhaps hundreds on our trip. When we came out of the other end, we couldn’t see a thing for the fog and the light rain.  Again, “how terrible” we exclaimed. Upon getting into the center of this very old town, which was still based around timber, we found the Catholic church (they are very Catholic in Croatia) This would be the very same one that the grandparents would have attended. It did not appear that it had changed much since the time the Yurkovich’s were there.  Though not large, it had lifelike statues of saints and Jesus being laid in the tomb set in cubbyholes all around the sides of the church. It so happened to be the day before Easter, which came very early this year. A few of the townspeople were walking to the church carrying little wicker baskets. We didn’t know why at the time. Apparently, the tradition in old Croatia is for all of the townspeople to deliver food for the Easter feast to the church on the day before to get blessed. 

Ravna Gora cubbyhole
One of the numerous cubbyholes in the little church

The light rain never stopped, and that was a good thing, though we didn’t know it at the time.  The rain was good for the tall pine trees, which has kept the town alive for all of these generations, and it was also good for the mystery, which keeps my imagination alive.

Ravna Gora church front with Mary
Mary back to the relatively unchanged church, well over a hundred years after her grandparents left for West Virginia