Friday, June 22, 2012

Pilgrimage Week (Part II)

A Thorough Baptism

I last left you, dear readers, in the car with Juliana, Nicky, and me, keeping the sun on our left as we went back to Jordanville. I forgot the Google Maps directions in Harry's car, but that wasn't too much of a problem as long as we kept going north. The journey back actually ended up shorter! We tried to find a pirate ship in the fields (no joke) that we passed before, but I guess we missed it since we took a different route.

We got back in time to have some burgers on the grill at Pete and Kate's. Yes! It's Memorial Day! And summer's here! The only thing possibly lacking was a nice caipirinha.

On Tuesday, baby Lucy was thoroughly baptised by Kate's dad, Fr David. Quite a few of us crowded in the bell tower baptistery, including Pete's mom and brother and Kate's family. The Jordanville baptistery is brightly frescoed in appropriately symbolic icons such as the Baptism of Christ, the Transfiguration, and the Annunciation, as well as the icons of holy new-martyrs of the Russian Church. Lucy won't remember what happened, but being baptised here is quite a treat for her, in my opinion. After the baptism Pete and Kate gave a reception outside using the same awnings from Commencement, featuring giant sandwiches.

St. Nektarios

Our motley crew.

On Wednesday, I went down with Nicky and Joanna (wife of our Dean's Assistant Fr. Ephraim) to St. Nektarios Monastery in Roscoe, NY. St. Nektarios, like St. Tikhon's is south of Jordanville, but a little more to the east. There we met with the small group of pilgrims that was making the whole trip from St. Tikhon's to Holy Trinity. It was a very diverse group of people. There were familiar faces, like Dima, whom I met at St. Herman's, and Harry, but I also made some new friends, including Noemi, a quiet horse-lover, and Alison, an erudite young student and new blogging buddy. Both of whom made an impromptu race to one of the trees on the monastic property.

"First one to the tree is Matushka Material!" cried Harry.
"Um, isn't one of them [Alison] already married?" said Nicky.
"Well, her husband could become a priest," said I.

Alison won, by the way.

We enjoyed the well-maintained grounds of the monastery, as well as the more rougher parts, filled with overgrown brush and turtles. The small and diverse group also facilitated interesting discussions on many topics.

Turtles, as you can see, are natural hermits.

We immersed ourselves in the liturgical cycle of the monastery, going to Vespers and Compline on Wednesday evening, as well as Matins and Liturgy during the night. Unfortunately, I missed the night services because I forgot to set an alarm, as well as having some trouble falling asleep. Oh well, I guess that means I'll have to go again some other time!

On Thursday morning, after a hearty breakfast, we sat down in the monastery bookstore for a spiritual discussion with Fr. Epiphanios, one of the hieromonks at the monastery. Fr. Epiphanios was a very down to earth and prayerful man who shared with us stories about St. Nektarios of Aegina, the patron saint of the monastery. One story he shared was about how St. Nektarios, as dean of the theological academy in Athens, helped save a sick janitor's job by doing all his work during his period of illness, and giving him the paychecks earned during this time. Fr. Epiphanios also discussed spiritual life with us. I'm not very good at writing about spiritual topics, but suffice it to say that we all came from that discussion with something profitable.

Unfortunately, I had to go back again to Jordanville, this time to prepare for the final leg of the pilgrimage. Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion!

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