Every time I am in Suprasl, and walking on the path along the river back towards the town, when I see that sight as in the photo above I let my imagination run. I imagine how people over the last 4 centuries since the monastery was built, who were walking that path would react to this sight. Even now there are only sprawling wetlands along the river, and deep forests behind. I imagine that it hasn’t changed much since the XVI century. Paths along the rivers (and rivers themselves) were used as main communication channels between the settlements. There were countless people who walked this path — either locals going to the market or to the town on the business, or travelers looking to buy or sell something, or looking for a job and a better future or refugees from some or other war or uprising (and there were plenty of those in this area). The monastery had to be a welcome sight, intimidating as well — but that’s the point of religious architecture.
And now I am there, walking the same path, walked down by countless steps weighted down with goods for the local market or gifts for the monastery or worries of poor and brutal lives that were a given for many centuries. I am not alone there — even in early spring, with cold wind as today there are plenty of people there — some walking with dogs, some jogging, some with fancy cameras to take pictures of nature and emerging wild life and some just enjoying a mid-morning stroll with their families. Things changed, our lives are easy and comfortable for the most part. There were kings and princes and warlords and different political systems that are gone and are no longer relevant except as a sidenote in history books. The path is still there, the monastery as well. I am there too.
And this oak tree is there as well. I have no idea how old it might be, but I can guess it was there for at least two hundred years. There is something sinister about this tree — I mean, for a tree (even an oak, that is sacred and revered in all cultures) to survive for that long, in a place where people walk by — something made people to leave this tree alone. It survived, it’s still alive and is a witness to all that walked underneath its branches.
And that is very comforting to me.