Thursday, November 29, 2012

Whimsurfing (Part I)

“An adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered.” —G. K. Chesterton

I was sitting in a Greyhound bus headed to Boston. Night was coming and I didn’t have anywhere to stay for the next week. It was going to be a very lonely Thanksgiving.

As you may know, we get the entire week of Thanksgiving off to make up for not observing secular holidays. This year, unlike the previous two, I had no set plans. No invitations. And I was getting a little stir-crazy. (It happens.) So, at the last minute, I decided to go to Boston. Any further planning than that was beyond my powers.

My vacation began this way:

On Friday morning, I woke up early to go to an English liturgy in the lakeside chapel. Fr. Luke told me to take care of organizing it. I had the music and epistle readings ready and went with a few other seminarians, one of whom read the Third Hour in Chinese. Liturgy went smoothly, and the Kursk-Root Icon was even there. After liturgy, I did some errands and prepared to leave. My teachers canceled class that day, so my departure was more relaxed than usual.

My friend Stefan dropped me off in Albany, where I caught the bus. I was expecting to stay with a certain deacon, Fr. Alexander, but when I called him I found out that he was unable to host me. Undaunted, I called up my friend Chrysostom, whom I know through the Orthodox Inter-Seminary Movement (he’s President, and I’m Secretary). Chrysostom got in touch with a couple of guys he knew from Holy Cross, and I ended up having a place to stay for the night.

Meanwhile, my bus arrived at South Station. Fr. Alex picked me up, and graciously offered to take me where I needed to go. We got dinner—at Trader Joe’s!—and went on a late-night excursion to the Harvard Science Library. “There’s this book I’ve been meaning to get, though there is a possibility that I might have already checked it out and it’s on my shelf.” Of course, as always, we had the most interesting conversations.

Fr. Alex dropped me off at the place I was staying, in Newton. I thought it was going to be a small apartment and was well-prepared to sleep on the couch or even the floor. To my surprise, it turned out to be a very large house with a huge guest room with four beds (!) for me to choose from. The size of the room was about 24 x 24 ft, nearly four times the size of my room at Seminary.

My hosts, John and Nicholai, rented their rooms from a very pleasant nonagenarian who lived on the first floor. As it turned out, both John and Nicholai and I had quite a few mutual friends in common, and I found them to be very hospitable.

I ended up staying the weekend in Newton. I spent my time walking around Cambridge (and Harvard Yard!), reconnecting with an old college friend, and making new friends at Holy Ressurrection Church.

Although I had a great time, I wanted to adhere as much as possible to Franklin’s adage: “Houseguests—like fish—begin to stink after three days.” So, I packed my bags on Monday and arranged for lodging with Fr. Victor Boldewskul, the rector of Holy Epiphany, the Boston ROCOR Church.

I left on Monday and ended up—on my first actual day of vacation—going to another seminary and attending classes there. I had a good experience at Holy Cross, and was glad to make lots of new friends. The classes (Old Testament, Dogmatics, and Byzantine Chant) were interesting, as well. I particularly liked the great Byzantine chanting at the chapel services.

That evening, I went to Holy Epiphany, sang a baptism with Fr. Victor, and went to his house for dinner and conversation. I had a pleasant stay and felt at home. Fr. Victor is a Jordanville graduate, so he knew what it was like to be a seminarian and I had a good talk with him in that category.

Soon after I retired to bed, I got a phone call. And then my plans changed.

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