Listening for the Alien Heartbeat

From the light alone you know you are in a holy place:

Haghpat church - Light of GodThis is a place where you stand under heaven in the hall of the ancient God:

Haghpat Church - ancient graceThese floor stones, carved with names, cover the graves of saints:

Haghpat Church - entrance stones - graves of saintsCold but illuminated.  An inscription reminds us:

“You who enter through its door and prostrate yourself before the Cross, in your prayers remember us…who rest at the door …”

Haghpat church - interior grave stones - MadonnaThe Haghpat Monastery, built by the devout in 976, burnt by Mongols, burnt by Turks and burnt by Persians, seems to re-grow out of the ground.  Beautiful even on a gray winter day:

Haghpat - church growing from groundSupposedly built by the estranged son of the master who built the almost equally beautiful Sanahin Monastery.  When the father walks across the valley and finally comes to see it, he says to the son he now understands:  the walls are solid, they will stand.  From this comes the name “Haghpat”.

Haghpat Church - side wallAs I stood on the edge of the valley, preparing to walk across back to Sanahin, I felt the soft breath of the middle ages on my neck:

Haghpat - wall - mountains(events  3/Dec/2012)


29 Responses to “The Light of the Gods”

  1. Mike Goldstone

    Michael, that’s authentically poetic……were it someone else, I’d venture that you were spiritually touched :).

    • alienheartbeat

      Mike, I have to admit it was the place, which was genuinely beautiful, rather than any new inner light of my own.

      • wewerenothing

        I agree — you have a touch of the poet in you. This is the third out of four posts of yours that I’ve read where I noticed it. These lines are sheer poetry: “As I stood on the edge of the valley, preparing to walk across back to Sanahin, I felt the warm breath of the middle ages on my neck.”

    • Kay Rodriques

      Dude! Where’d you go? I miss your posts, both your writing and photos. Have you stopped rambling and musing and so, retired Alien Heartbeat?

      • alienheartbeat

        hi Kay.

        I traveled for about 6 months after the last post
        and in fact had prepared the photos for a few more posts on Laos.

        But I had a backlog of stuff to deal with
        and then it got harder to get back into posting
        esp while trying to clean up many other projects.

        Have now decided to stop traveling for awhile
        and return to HK
        to try to spend the next few years getting something less ephemeral done,
        but not yet sure of the form.

        Have really appreciated your comments
        and they kept me motivated to keep posting for so long.

        • Kay Rodriques

          I look forward to seeing your non-ephemeral work. If you’re doing a book, you could definitely pull some of your works/words from your Alien Heartbeat site. P.S. I’m working on an artist’s book and I find that posting a musing or two each month keeps me working. Just a thought. And too, much of the material for the book comes from my blogs.
          You have a way with words. Lovely stuff.

    • alienheartbeat

      Thanks. I had been so drawn to the place I hadn’t made any notes or tweets. So when it came to writing the post I started with a blank page. Both good and bad.

      • theoxherd

        I’ve always found a blank canvas intimidating. Hard to improve…until the first defilement…then it’s a different animal altogether.
        The quote is terrific, as is the floor of tombstones.

        • alienheartbeat

          The full quote is:
          “In the year 634/AD 1185, I Mariam, daughter of King Kyurike, built with great hope this house of prayer over our tombs — those of my paternal aunt Rousoudan, my mother Tamara, and myself, Mariam, under the superior Ter Barsegh, archbishop, who finished the construction. You who enter through its door and prostrate yourself before the cross, in your prayers remember us and our royal ancestors, who rest at the door of the holy cathedral, in Jesus Christ.”

          On re-reading it, it is in some ways more beautiful than my excerpt. But I wanted to focus on the fact that under each of those stones was buried an Armenian saint, and that in walking there, we walk across them.

    • alienheartbeat

      Yes, though as you are Armenian, you could be a bit prejudiced 😉
      But I am not Armenian and I agree.
      And such an amazing and terrible history.

      Thanks for the reblog.

      • longliveblack

        Yes you’re right, and I know it’s far from perfect but it’s such a beautiful country i must visit! ‘
        You’re welcome! 🙂

  2. Robin Sears

    Michael: just came across this. Omedeto! As we say in nihongo. Beautiful serene appreciation of somewhere I had never heard of. Indebted to you for the education!


    • alienheartbeat

      Great to hear from you Robin. Yes, somewhere I had never heard of either. It is often the case that some of our most worthwhile experiences are unexpected.

    • alienheartbeat

      thanks Elena. the reason i moved to this Portfolio theme is to avoid my favorite posts ending up in an “old posts” bin.

      • Zhang Wenjie

        Eh I think you did great. Doubt I’ll ever drag 15 kilos of equipment around on such hikes. Maybe if there was an airlift or something.

  3. J. A. Robinson

    I followed your advice and visited this post. Monolithic on the outside, the interior of the monastery is softened by the existing light. Good that those who burned the building didn’t destroy the graves.

      • Tan

        I stumbled upon your site under my gogole alert for Armenia. I have to say, you did a fantastic job on this photography. But you had beautiful scenery to work with.


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