By Ani Bekelian
Many people travel to Armenia every year and return home with memories that end up lasting them a lifetime. When tourists visit this place, some fall in love with the architectural wonders dripping with culture and history, while others have their breath taken away by the ineffable views of Mount Ararat. Whether interested in the sciences or the arts, tourists around the world praise Armenia’s beauty. However, as a young woman in high school, it was not the architectural Gods or the awe-inspiring views that left a permanent mark on my heart, but the miracle of the seven voices I experienced within the walls of the singular Geghard Monastery.
Walking into Geghard was an enlightening experience. After a short walk up the base of the mountain, I was mesmerized by its design. The monastery towered over my body like a knight protecting its princess as it proudly stood out from the side of the mountain. What or who was Gerhard’s princess? Entering through its doors, my spirit and soul felt uplifted, as if the wings of an angel had come down from heaven and lifted all of my doubts away.
As we ascended up a few steps and entered one of its quarters coral-colored walls immediately encircled me. As I lifted my chin towards the sky, I encountered a perfectly circular dome with an opening at the top. Questioning the opening at the top of the dome, I waited to hear our tour guide explain its significance. After hearing her story, I learned that if one stood at a certain spot in the quarter and sang that seven different variations of your voice would resonate. After a few moments of bliss, I was given the opportunity to demonstrate her story through my singing. I was honored. Butterflies swarmed through my stomach as I stood in the place instructed. Beads of cold sweat started to trickle down the back of my neck as I started to open my mouth to sing. And there it was. The notes started to fly out of my mouth like doves reaching for the sky. My body turned unyielding as I heard the different voices singing the same song I was; I was unaware of my surroundings as I fully enveloped myself in the moment. My eyes fluttered from one body to the next, as I read their mesmerized faces in awe. Within those walls of Geghard, a miracle had taken place–a miracle of life, love, and art.
As the song came to an end, a feeling of rebirth flushed over me. Still oblivious to the circumstances around me, I began to descend down the steps. As I approached the bottom of the hill, I turned back to see the same Geghard towering over in its knightly position, and I realized that it truly was a protector. It was a protector of a very valuable princess the protector of love, life, art the eternal protector of the miracle of seven voices.