The «Mioritic space» in Exile


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Even today when I feel the lamb haggis smell I remember our hills and valleys, and the mountains with sheep and folds. I used to pick wild strawberries which abundantly grew on the land enriched by sheep, then I would find some shepherd’s hut where I would curiously observe everyday objects used in the milk products’ preparation. Cheese, cottage cheese and curd would hang on stakes to strain.
Mother used to go early in the morning across the street, to the farmers’ market, for fresh cheese and cream. In spring, when the snow would melt and snowdrops would appear, the shepherds would come to sell lambs. It was an amazing site for me, as a child, all that spectacle of intersecting human voices, animal sounds and bird chirping.
In tumult and clamor, people would heavily negotiate and one could see in the end happy faces after a good deal and the prospect of a rich Easter table; but one could also see provisions for shepherds, flutes and traditional shoes, jackets and jewels for shepherdesses.
We, Romanians, have been living for thousands of years in harmony with the land. We have inhabited the Carpathian region long before the ice age (ask Zalmoxis who says we go back to the golden age of mankind). We come from eternity and walk alongside it. Lucian Blaga told Mircea Eliade that “The Romanian culture is a minor culture since it has adopted the ‘childhood age.’” Of course, the big philosophers judge the maturity of a nation from an intellectual perspective.
But if we listen to Petre Tutea’s story about a Nobel prize winner and an old countryside woman – “Before God, the old woman is a human being, while the Nobel prize winner is a ferret, and will die a ferret” – we can affirm the existence of a cultural maturity in the ‘ignorance’ of the everyday man, a maturity he may not see or recognize. The culture of a nation matures through osmosis and is inherited from father to son, a tradition that lacks in the West due to the traditional family’s loss. The Australian Aborigines have no written language. They have orally transmitted their culture for about fifty thousand years through songs, dances, customs and traditions. Grandparents always lived with their grand-children, a way of passing on the culture, while in the West, family members are encouraged to live separately and independently, severing the thread of continuity. This is why the West has fragmentary or specialized spaces cut off from evolution and unable to mature as in the case of the Mioritic space. Nowadays, we assist at the cut of the cultural umbilical cord between generations.
The immigrants have held on their identity because of cultural continuity. Cultural traditions were preserved for thousands of years, impregnated into the Romanians’ DNA such as rings in trees’ trunks. I survived in the West because of the language and culture of my parents and ancestors. Praying to God in my parents’ language is an immaculate dialog with the Creator, while in English it would be a Shakespearian spectacle. The ancestral word has healing properties. Romanian immigrants retained the Mioritic space through language, food, music, and clothing. In the new country, we created new families, cultural and sport clubs, Romanian schools and churches, journals and magazines and even libraries, as well as radio and TV channels. We organized exhibits and festivals, and communal outdoor gatherings with guests from other cultures. We preserved the link with our country of origin through the Department for Romanians Abroad and accomplished exchanges with home institutions.
A true Romanian cannot ignore the Mioritic space. This would mean to allow oneself be slowly and surely uprooted. For me, it would mean to amputate a part of my life and soul. Some affirm they are not Romanians and I believe them. They do not belong to the Romanian nation, they were just planted among us! Those who do not understand the cultural maturity of our people because of pride or social pressures are fated to grow incomplete or deformed.
In the ballad “Miorita,” the shepherd rejects violence, showing great maturity and wisdom; he establishes an umbilical link between his place of eternity and universal eternity, distinguishing himself from his companions who remain artificial puppets of time, incapable of connecting with the eternal and the divine. This maturity is present in our Romanian immigrant houses through the pictures of parents and grand-parents, their clothing and places, their smile and eye sparkle, though our songs, occupations, social behavior, our creativity and contributions to society, our thoughts and prayers.
The Mioritic space manifests itself in every Romanian word I am saying, and in those moments I feel protected. I am again home with my parents. The Mioritic space is the divine law of creation and of our people’s continuity. The Mioritic space is the bond between sky and earth. The Miortic space is nature’s flawlessness. When I opened my eyes at my mom’s breast, God was inspired to create the earth with ITS Mioritic space. The Mioritic space is a lullaby, a wind’s breeze, a flower’s scent, it is nostalgia.
Without the Romanian language, I would have died a long time ago in exile.

Ben Todica

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