The Planting of a Monastery (chapter 9)

Leavetaking of the Holy Mountain Altogether, Father Basil and I visited seven different monasteries during our ten day pilgrimage to the Holy Mountain. Each monastery had its own powerful impact on my soul, and I found it very difficult to leave what must truly be the homeland of every Orthodox monk. Rather than attempt to describe my experience at each…

The Planting of a Monastery (chapter 8)

The German At the conclusion of the service we once again approached the holy icon, offering our final veneration. I joined the other monks, but I could not look upon her, shamed as I was. I prostrated, kissed the base of the holy icon, turned, and left the chapel.  Wandering about the grounds of the Great Lavra by myself, I…

Harmony

Creating harmony out of chaos The inevitability of death is particularly difficult to face for most Americans, as we’ve become a people that eschew traditional funerals, preferring to “celebrate the life of our loved one, while disposing of the body, and banning any sign of death from the memorial service should we even decide to have a service. Yet the…

The Authority of the Church

must be grounded in the love of Christ If she be true to herself, the Church acts with an authority that is grounded in love. She holds within her realm the authority to make her people the children of God. She has the authority to forgive, and the capacity to love. And just as her Head, Jesus Christ, she exists…

The Planting of a Monastery (chapter 7)

And the flowering of a monastic brotherhood Inside the Great Lavra One’s first sighting of the Great Lavra is overwhelming. Constructed over a thousand years ago to withstand attacks by pirates, Latins, and Muslim invaders, it looks like the ancient medieval fortress town that it is. When entering the main gate you immediately notice a trap door midway between the…

The Planting of a Monastery (chapter 6)

And the flowering of a monastic brotherhood The Holy Community Arriving in Karyes, Father Basil and I proceeded to the Holy Community in order to present our passports and visas, thus gaining official entrance to the Holy Mountain, the world’s only monastic republic. Mount Athos is governed by an assembly of twenty appointed representatives from each of the twenty principal…

The Planting of a Monastery (chapter 5)

And the flowering of a monastic brotherhood The Holy Mountain In May of 1989, a little over a year after moving to Vashon Island, my friend Father Basil Rhodes took me on a month’s journey to Greece. We spent time in Athens and Thessaloniki, before heading for our ten day stay on the Holy Mountain of Athos. This was my…

The Planting of a Monastery

And the flowering of a monastic brotherhood (part 4) The Move to the Island After packing our belongings we returned to the island from Oregon, with the camper so full we scraped the bottom as we drove onto the ferry. We gave thanks to God as we stood on the deck, closing in on our new island home. I had…

The Planting of a Monastery

And the flowering of a monastic brotherhood (part 3) The House in Medford With the prospect of winter ahead, we knew our days of camping had come to an end. Visiting a small Orthodox mission parish in Medford, Oregon, we were invited to move into the vacant house next door, formerly the home of an old man who had passed…

The Planting of a Monastery

And the flowering of a monastic brotherhood (part 2) The Search In early 1987, after receiving a blessing from our bishop to relocate the monastery, we rented a storage unit in Santa Rosa, packed away our library, icons, and furniture, and left the Bay Area in search of our promised land. We rented a two-bedroom cabin on Cobb Mountain, just…

The Planting of a Monastery

And the flowering of a monastic brotherhood (part 1) In many ways this monastery was founded as one would plant a garden. The germination took place in a small blue collar house in a poor part of Richmond, CA, in 1983, where we struggled in a neighborhood constructed for ship builders in World War II. With police helicopters hovering over…

The Seen and the Unseen

The limits of human reason, and the knowledge of God There is the seen, and there is the unseen, the material and the immaterial. That which is material can be scientifically examined and experienced, the immaterial can only be seen and experienced spiritually. These are two worlds that are only seemingly at odds with one another. If you attempt to…