U U General Assembly 1992, Calgary, Canada

Building a Global Village

Address at the Opening Celebration

                                    by Dr. Judit Gellérd

Wandering through the world, I have realized how privileged I am to be born in a Transylvanian village.  What I value the most is that I was brought up cradled in reverence for our past and for the tradition of our faith.  The husking bee and church pulpit, the candle-lights of the graveyard and the sacred family space, the boom of bells and the murmured prayers of hope--they are all seeds sown within me.  Their harvest is priceless: a crystal-clear sense of who I am and where I come fro, which determines what is my ultimate path, what my life is about.

Transylvania is the cradle and the cradle-song.  Transylvania is the depth of the past, the living archive of our religious heritage: 1568, Torda, Kolozsvár, tolerance, freedom, martyrdom, liberating spirit--the first liberal religion.  The first tolerant state religion, land of revolutions.  There is no future without the past, and Transylvania reminds us of this.

This past, those 400 years, were almost continuous sufferings of Unitarians.  "But I was born from a people/Who have faith in resurrection" we say with the poet over and over again.  Deep is our grave today, but you, those of our larger village, have heard the stifled cries of pain and the whisper of secret poems of freedom.  You helped us to roll the stone away.  And you grow through our liberation--for are we not one people, one village?  You ask yourself:  would I endure all that persecution and humiliation for my Unitarian faith?  Instead of an answer, you might just appreciate the value of our common faith.  Instead of answering, you might just sit down in the circle of our common fire, our common light.  You see the light of our torch leading Unitarians through centuries.  Our torch-light makes the flaming chalice brighter, the chalice which is the warmth, the light and the cooking-fire of our common village.

 You share your wealth with us, as it is so natural in a village community.  You share with joy and respecting our dignity in poverty.  You help us restore our self-esteem.  What Transylvania gives you back "in love and treasures of the spirit", as a minister expressed, makes us partners instead of beggars--not charity, but family.  Sometimes you gave us bells--as the Unitarians after the First World War did--to call the village for worships and warn it of danger.   Sometimes you send tractors to rebuild our lives, like you do now.  All of this is building the bridge.  You trust us that we are strong enough pillar at the other end.  And this trust is resurrection for us.

A village usually formed around the water-source.  We have forgotten the tonic taste, the effervescent freshness of a spring, while we drink polluted river or chemically purified water from a bottle.  The spring is far below, the rocks are covering it, sometimes it gets overgrown, and, with time, forgotten.  Let us rediscover it, let us hear Béla Bartók's famous call: drink only "from a clean spring".  Let Transylvania be the clean spring of our heritage;  a spring of inspiring faith, of commitment to tradition, of strength of character to face sufferings and resources to turn crisis into opportunities.  Let it be a hidden and cherished place for pilgrimage of the spirit thirsty for freedom. 

To build a global village--nobody in the world has greater desire for this than Eastern Europe.  We want finally to come out of life-long bunkers of isolation and fear, from traps of hatred of otherness.  We are one village.  We speak the same language of hope, we see by the light of the same fire, we share the same chalice of living water.