By Tania Kurbessoian
As the bus pulled up to the Keghart church, I thought that it was yet another place we would walk by without a second glance. The moment I stepped off the bus, I felt a sudden rush, and the low atmospheric pressure. We were pretty high up, almost entirely surrounded by mountains yet, surprisingly, one could see a river flowing nearby.
The little old Armenian natives greeted us with smiles on their faces, while gesturing to their beautifully decorated objects as well as their preserved jams, honey, and dried fruit.
Though tempted, I walked away with a grin, thinking, “Let me pray first, then I’ll come back.” The trek to the church was a bit steep, but we finally entered the courtyard. The building was old, and massive, yet walking by you could tell so much history had occurred within its walls. The first attraction that caught my eye was the little hole with the pebbles in it.
As a superstition, a person has to make a wish and throw a small pebble into the hole, and if the pebble lands safely, then his or her wish would come true. I decided to test my luck, and of course, my aim being as horrible as can be, I missed it by a long shot. But to no matter, it was a silly wish.
The architecture was amazing, and the moment I walked in, a sense of awe overcame me, making me dizzy. As I gazed slowly up the carvings to the very high circular dome, thoughts of appreciation and shock went through my mind. Although I had heard of its majestic beauty, I was yet unprepared to encounter the full-bloomed beauty of the ancient church. As I strolled through, I wondered how a magnificent structure was made with the limited tools and technology they had back then.
But what lay ahead was something I wouldn’t have expected. Past the church walls was the most impressive image of all. The little doorway opened up to a magnificent waterfall, surrounded by trees. A closer look at the trees reveals little ribbons attached to the many branches. I followed my fellow classmates to the single line, to get our little “yerankoyn” ribbons. I had an extra special wish, and seeing the beauty, and the fact that so many other people would come to this same place and hope for their wishes to be granted, gave me the courage to step up to a lonely branch and make my wish.
The moment I tied the ribbon, making my wish, my eyes flooded with tears. I came to realize where I was; my homeland, my “hayrenik,” the place where my ancestors have roamed many years ago. I froze for a moment, thinking to myself how fortunate I am to have the opportunity to be here. And as if that was not enough, I began to think of home, of my small family, and all that we have been through together.
My wish was for the well-being of my family–that no harm should ever befall them. I walked back to the bus, and bought a small trinket for my mother. As I did this, I bid the Armenian people farewell, but also paid close attention to the details of the church. After all, we are in Armenia only once.