Tuesday, May 16, 2006


The national hero, the "George Washington" of Ukraine, is Taras Shevchenko. What makes this unusual? He was a poet, not a military leader, not a politician, not a wealthy businessman, not a philosopher. A poet. (I'm standing by his statue, one of hundreds in Ukraine, in the city of L'viv.)

How many nations have a poet as their hero? Not many. In most Ukrainian public school rooms you will see a picture of Taras Shevchenko. The first picture (above) is a self-portrait. He was a painter, too. He died at the age of 47.

I searched several bookshops and finally found (in Kiev) a book of Shevchenko's poems in English. Here's a sampling of his passion for Ukraine to be free from Tsarist oppression:

"O my Ukraine, my lov'd Ukraine!
These are your children dear,
These are your blossoms, fair and young,
Smothered in ink, I fear,
And steeped in henbane Muscovite
And trained by Germans deft,
Weep, O Ukraine, unhappy land,
A childless widow left."
-- from "The Dream," St. Petersburg, July 8, 1844

L'viv is "the city of lions." There are over 5000 lion monuments in L'viv. According to the ancient chronicles, Lviv was founded in 1256 by the Prince of Qalicia and Volyn Danylo Romanovych, who named the town in honour of his son Lev ("lion"). With a much stronger European spirit than Russian, L'viv reminded me of Salzburg or Innsbrook in Austria. L'viv boasts of having the 3rd most beautiful opera house in Europe and it is the first Ukrainian/Russian city to introduce coffee to its people (the coffee was a gift from the Turks to a Polish military leader).

After a 1 day conference in Lutsk on May 2, I went to L'viv for four days and visited with and learned from the staff of Hosanna Church. I also attended their vibrant Sunday service and was asked by Dema, their energetic lead pastor, to bring a brief greeting and meditation from the Scriptures. I had a great time with Tim and Heather and their children, with Paul and Dema and Natalie, Zorin, and Masha, and many more sisters and brothers in Christ.


At 5/16/2006 7:56 AM, Blogger Sivin Kit said...

It's good and great to see you back blogging!

At 5/16/2006 10:01 AM, Blogger John Frye said...

Thanks. I visited your "Garden" recently. Good stuff.

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