Saturday, July 5, 2008


I hope everyone in the U.S. enjoyed the Fourth of July! Here in Budapest, there was a festival in the Castle district celebrating when the Magyars came to Hungary. I was glad to spend the day with friends in a festive environment even though it wasn't the typical cook-out and fireworks event.

Freedom is a gift for which I am very thankful but that I don't fully grasp because I've never known the lack of it. During my lifetime--and yours, too--the United States has been totally free. Since I was quite young, I've even enjoyed spiritual freedom from sin and death because of Jesus. The people of Hungary have had a different experience.

On my last day of language school, my teacher Bori helped us to translate (roughly) a song that is very significant here. While considering the history, the words, and finally the sounds of this song, I was moved to tears. On a weekend when Americans celebrate independence, I'd like to share this glimpse of the darkness that so much of the world has known.

Please accept this rough translation of the lyrics of Ha én rózsa volnék (If I Were a Rose). This song speaks to the resiliency, pain, and yearning for freedom that surrounded the failed revolution of 1956 against the evil and oppressive Stalinist government, all of which came after Nazi occupation. Then, check out one (or both) of the YouTube links. The first shows some helpful images and also what the Hungarian language looks like. The second is an amazing performance by Koncz Zsuzsa that displays how a Hungarian audience feels about this song.

If I were a rose, I wouldn't blossom just once a year.
Every year, I would blossom four times.
I'd open for the boys, and I'd open for the girls.
For true love and for passing away.

If I were a gate, I would always be open.
From anywhere someone could come, I would let in anybody.
I wouldn't ask: who sent you??
I would be happy if everyone came in.

If I were a window, I would be one so large
that the whole world would become visible.
They would look through me with understanding eyes.
I would be happy if I showed everything.

If I were a street, I would always be clean.
Every blessed night I would bathe in light.
If the tank wheels should crush me
The ground would cry out under me and open.

If I were a flag, I would never flutter.
I would be angry at all kinds of winds.
I would be happy to be tightened/stretched* by them. (image like
Jesus' arms on cross)
I wouldn't be merely a toy for any wind.

YouTube link: song with images

YouTube link: live performance


Kim said...

Wow - that does lend new significance to the almost lighthearted celebration of our Independence Day in the U.S. Even though I don't understand the language, I can hear the passion and longing in the people's voices. Thank you for sharing this beautiful expression of what freedom really means, from a more global perspective. You are in my thoughts and prayers!

Andrea said...

I see in this a longing of the Hungarian people. A longing to be open and understood without being trampled upon by others.