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  • Writer's pictureMark McMinn

A Nap in Odessa

I once took a nap in the Odessa Opera Theater, maybe in the box just to the right of where the man in the blue shirt is standing.

In my defense, jet lag had something to do with it. My doctoral student, Brent, and I had endured a long flight across the Atlantic before discovering that our missionary hosts in Ukraine--Rod and Lydia--had arranged tickets for the the opera on the following evening. Surrounded by beautiful music in an unfamiliar language and whatever biological thing happens in a brain's basal ganglia, my eyelids drooped and then closed.

Maybe for a long time.

When I woke I realized Brent had fallen to the same fate, and then noticed that Rod had also and without the excuse of jet lag. It occurred to me that Lydia must have felt quite horrified to be in one of the most stunning opera houses in the world, positioned in a visible box seat, with three sleeping men.

Yesterday, June 18, the opera house opened for the first time since the Russian invasion began on February 24. All sorts of thoughts swirl in my mind about the tenacity of the Ukrainian people, the power of art amidst great atrocities, the resilience of the human soul, and the prophetic voice of music.

But maybe it's best leaving most of those thoughts unarticulated so that I can simply bear witness to what is possible in a harsh and beautiful world.

This time I want to notice rather than falling asleep.


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