Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A Muddy Liturgy


I woke up on top of my bed in a bright room; I had fallen asleep without turning off the light. I fell unconscious again.

It was a little before six. Groggily I dragged myself out, got dressed, and walked out the door. Fr. Ephraim was standing in the lounge with the summer boys. "John, do you want to come with us to the woods for an English liturgy?" I figured, what the hey.

The Summer Youth Program is a great opportunity for young men to spend three weeks at Jordanville to get a taste of the quiet life of the monastery, do fun things and have spiritual discussions, and also do hard labor build character. It was a small group of five teenage boys. We piled into the big white van and drove up to the lakeside chapel, only to get stuck in the mud. We had to walk the rest of the way to the chapel.

It had been raining hard the past few days. Thankfully we're on high ground, but the people in Herkimer and Utica have had a tough time with flooding. It has gotten so bad that during the liturgy prayers are offered beseeching an end to the rain.

We walked about a third of a mile in the mud and wet grass, to the small stone chapel, with a grayish, weather-beaten wooden roof. A score of people filled the interior. Fr. Luke was serving at the tiny altar. The interior of the chapel is partially frescoed, with prominent icons of both St. John of Rila and St. John of Kronstadt, after whom the chapel is named. The singing was mostly in English, and was sung by some local women and a novice nun. The nun in question was dubbed "the coolest nun ever" by one of the boys because of the bright red galoshes she wore.

The English liturgies at the chapel are done on average once a week, but the schedule is erratic and is known only through word of mouth. But I highly recommend it, especially to English-speaking pilgrims.