A TURK, A KURD, AND AN ARMENIAN WALK INTO A CHURCH

http://www.armenianweekly.com/2012/10/18/a-turk-a-kurd-and-an-armenian-walk-into-a-church/

Posted by Khatchig Mouradian on October 18, 2012

We park the car near Lake Van and start our long hike towards the
side of a hill where the ruins of a medieval Armenian monastery await
us. It is a long hike over uneven surfaces thoroughly sprinkled with
dry manure. We had met the culprits earlier, near the lake-a large
herd of sheep that covered the landscape stretching between two
hills. A few shepherds greeted us and offered some tea.

1 300x200 A Turk, a Kurd, and an Armenian Walk into a Church

We had met the culprits earlier, near the lake-a large herd of sheep
that covered the landscape stretching between two hills. (Photo by
Khatchig Mouradian)

After nearly an hour, the church is in clear view. "I have never
walked this long to get to a mosque!" one of my companions, a Kurdish
activist from Diyarbakir, jokes.

I smile, but I also want to use the opportunity to make a point to
everyone in our small group. "You know, I do not hike for hours to
get to churches in the U.S. Or anywhere else for that matter," I say
half-jokingly. "This is about genocide, dispossession, and a search
for meaning..."

He knows.

I am being preachy, my American friend's eyes are telling me. I notice
the box of Turkish delights she'd purchased earlier protruding from
her handbag. "Your bag is so delightful," I say, attempting to be
funny. We soldier on.

11 300x200 A Turk, a Kurd, and an Armenian Walk into a Church

"This is about genocide, dispossession, and a search for meaning..."

(Photo by Khatchig Mouradian)

The monastery, historically known as Garmravak, but called Gorundu
Kilisesi by locals after the nearby village, is perched majestically
on the side of a hill. Two large holes on its dome face each other,
indicating that the church was cannonballed before being left to the
mercy of the forces of nature. Still, beautiful khatchkars (Armenian
cross-stones) and engravings adorn the outside walls of the scarred,
ravaged church.

We walk in. My Turkish companion, a soft-spoken urban designer from
Istanbul, points to a large hole dug in the middle of the church:
Treasure hunters have been here! After six trips to historic Armenian
villages and towns over the past two years alone, this is an all too
familiar sight for me.

A few minutes later, I am alone in the church. I slide my hand on
its walls ceremoniously, like I have done with every single church
ruin I have visited in historic Armenia. I know it gives me strength.

I would like to believe that the church also wants a reassuring hand
telling it, "Hang in there! I know in my heart that we will be whole
again one day."

1111 A Turk, a Kurd, and an Armenian Walk into a Church

Two large holes on its dome face each other, indicating that the
church was cannonballed before being left to the mercy of the forces
of nature. (Photo by Khatchig Mouradian)



111 A Turk, a Kurd, and an Armenian Walk into a Church

Beautiful khatchkars (Armenian cross-stones) and engravings adorn
the outside walls of the scarred, ravaged church. (Photo by Khatchig
Mouradian)



22 A Turk, a Kurd, and an Armenian Walk into a Church

"Hang in there! I know in my heart that we will be whole again one
day." (Photo by Khatchig Mouradian)

Armenian Weekly Editor Khatchig Mouradian just returned from a trip
to Dikranagerd/Diyarbakir, Sassoun, and Van. This is the first in a
series of articles written about that trip.