Friday, April 01, 2005

Egy Az Isten

That's Hungarian for "God is one". I've been told it's written over the doors of many of the Unitarian churches in Transylvania.

I thought it was only a coincidence when my company merged with another big company last year, and the person from the other company whom I had to suddenly start working together with turned out to be a parishioner at First Parish (UU) in Cohasset, just a few towns away from me. We found it easy to work together. Not everyone in our companies was so lucky. Now I'm wondering if it was more than mere coincidence.

Today, I had to call another colleague from my old company, whom I have worked with for ten years now. I reached her at home; she had fallen and injured her knee last week. He mother, who was visiting and caring for her, answered.

Her mother had a peculiar accent. I asked my colleague what kind of accent it was. It was Hungarian, she said.

I asked if my colleague had been born in Hungary. No, she said; her Hungarian parents had emigrated to New York and then to Montreal, where she was born.

I asked her where her parents were from in Hungary. Actually, she said, they weren't from Hungary, but from Transylvania, where Hungarians are a persecuted minority, which is why they had to leave.

You're a Hungarian Transylvanian? I asked. Yes, or my parents are, she replied.

I asked her what religion she was, a topic we had not had any particular reason to discuss before. Well, she said, her mom was a Unitarian, which is common for Transylvanian Hungarians but you don't find too many of them over here, and her dad was a Lutheran, and she was raised Lutheran because there weren't any Unitarian churches in her town. Although, when her parents emigrated, they were assisted by Unitarian churches in New York and Montreal.

Your mom's a Hungarian Unitarian from Transylvania? I asked, amazed where this offhand conversation with someone I've talked to almost daily for ten years was unexpectedly leading. Oh, yes, she answered, and my great-grandfather was a Unitarian minister or something like that over there.

"Not just any minister!" her mother called out in the background. "He was the bishop!"

Wow. The bishop. The Big Kahuna, the successor to Francis David. And I'd been working with his great-granddaughter for ten years, and never knew it.

Egy az isten. God is One. It's All One Thing.


At April 3, 2005 at 3:26:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Paul said...

I have a dear friend who is a Romanian from Cluj-Napoca in Transylvania. She sees the ethnic Hungarians there through different eyes than as a persecuted minority and to be fair there have been mistakes on both sides through the centuries.

At August 24, 2011 at 9:52:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jókai Mór: Egy az Isten


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