Pilgrim Journey: Serbia to Siberia

The Death of Elder Basilisk, Ch.5 at From the book, “Elder Zosima, Hesychast of Siberia”

About to watch the Hobbit with my family in NYC!

About to watch the Hobbit with my family in NYC!

These are some shots from the Srpska Magaza, an intentional village in Central Serbia near Ljig. In this area, every house has a small garden with vegetables. Even the medical doctors here first recommend herbal remedies. They make their own products, package their herbal remedies, and love the freedom of their way of life. For more information go to: http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=sr&u=http://www.srpskamagaza.com/&prev=/search%3Fq%3Dsrpska%2Bmagaza%26hl%3Den%26biw%3D1243%26bih%3D589%26prmd%3Dimvns&sa=X&ei=e_VUUPTGJuWu0AG9nYCoAg&ved=0CCIQ7gEwAA , and check out their youtube video: www.youtube.com/channel/UCA7-TEpJr_fA9f9Cu-ueQww.


Back in Kansas City! 
From an amazing journey to Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, through Moldova, to Ukraine, and Russia (from Siberia to St. Petersburg), to     Platina and San Francisco, I’m now back at home processing the wealth of experiences and blessings. Including loved ones, a faithful parish, two dancing dachshunds, now look what I find today! I thought the tomatoes were all gone but instead I find they were hiding! An abundance of okra, a few tomatoes, and what looks to be a great year for sweet potatoes all greeted me today as I returned to the garden. In addition, a great new book came in the mail: Greening the Orthodox Parish by Frederick Krueger. It looks fantastic! Now to apply all that I learned and begin to make good on this “Loan of Grace!”

Back in Kansas City!
From an amazing journey to Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, through Moldova, to Ukraine, and Russia (from Siberia to St. Petersburg), to Platina and San Francisco, I’m now back at home processing the wealth of experiences and blessings. Including loved ones, a faithful parish, two dancing dachshunds, now look what I find today! I thought the tomatoes were all gone but instead I find they were hiding! An abundance of okra, a few tomatoes, and what looks to be a great year for sweet potatoes all greeted me today as I returned to the garden. In addition, a great new book came in the mail: Greening the Orthodox Parish by Frederick Krueger. It looks fantastic! Now to apply all that I learned and begin to make good on this “Loan of Grace!”

4 September 
BART in San Francisco has wifi! 
I’m now at airport, about to return. My bags are full of icons, books, and holy oil. They are heavy and I have two of them. I was worried about how much extra I might have to pay. The lady at the desk had offered me advice earlier. This time she called for me to check in and, to my surprise, she checked both bags through without cost. Lucky? A coincidence? I don’t think so. I’m also carrying earth from a saint’s grave. At custom’s clearing when I came into New York I had to fill out the Declaration Form. One of the questions was about soil or if you had visited farms. I marked yes. The first man said “so you visited a farm! We try to make sure no diseases are brought into the country. Please go through.” Then, my bag with many holy things was misplaced. When I finally found it, I was directed to a certain inspector. He said, “so you visited a farm? I said yes, and he asked if I wiped my shoes well and I said yes. Then he proceeded to tell me about his being an Orthodox Christian and asked me to pray for his daughter, with tears. I assured him that I would and proceeded. Another coincidence? No, I really believe Angels and saints were helping in light of what I was carrying. 
In other words, I was a carrier and, as a result, special help was given. Now, I remember the words of Fr. Herman before I left — “a loan of Grace.”
“It’s later than you think; therefore, hasten to do the work of God” (Fr. Seraphim Rose).

4 September
BART in San Francisco has wifi!
I’m now at airport, about to return. My bags are full of icons, books, and holy oil. They are heavy and I have two of them. I was worried about how much extra I might have to pay. The lady at the desk had offered me advice earlier. This time she called for me to check in and, to my surprise, she checked both bags through without cost. Lucky? A coincidence? I don’t think so. I’m also carrying earth from a saint’s grave. At custom’s clearing when I came into New York I had to fill out the Declaration Form. One of the questions was about soil or if you had visited farms. I marked yes. The first man said “so you visited a farm! We try to make sure no diseases are brought into the country. Please go through.” Then, my bag with many holy things was misplaced. When I finally found it, I was directed to a certain inspector. He said, “so you visited a farm? I said yes, and he asked if I wiped my shoes well and I said yes. Then he proceeded to tell me about his being an Orthodox Christian and asked me to pray for his daughter, with tears. I assured him that I would and proceeded. Another coincidence? No, I really believe Angels and saints were helping in light of what I was carrying.
In other words, I was a carrier and, as a result, special help was given. Now, I remember the words of Fr. Herman before I left — “a loan of Grace.”
“It’s later than you think; therefore, hasten to do the work of God” (Fr. Seraphim Rose).

3 September 2012

Yesterday, served liturgy with HE Metropolitan HILARION, 1st Hierarch of ROCOR, Bishop Daniil of Bulgaria, Abbot Hilarion of St. Herman of Alaska Monastery in Platina, CA, Abbot Luka of Dajbaba in Serbia, Archim. Nectary of Mexico (ROCOR), Abbot Sava of Georgia, Hieromonk James from Joy of all who Sorrow Cathedral in SF (ROCOR), Fr. Michael Oyer, Dormition Bulgarian Orthodox Church in Santa Rosa, CA, Hieromonks Damascene and Paisius of St. Herman of Alaska Monastery in Platina, CA; and two deacons from ROCOR, with many in attendance for the 30th Repose of Fr.  Seraphim Rose. 



Then, we enjoyed wonderful smoked salmon meal. I sat next to Fr. Luka who

i had met in Montenegro. He is not only delightful, as we kept moving the bees from our food, but he is responsible frontwo monasteries in Montenegro. We also met Fr. Moses, a new African-american monk at Platina, who Fr. Hilarion blessed to come to the next Ancient Christianity and African American Conference in KC in October, 2013. 

Then, we heard talks from those who knew Fr. Seraphim personally. I was especially touched by Metropolitan Hilarion sharing about his teenage discovery of OW, his blessing to go to Jordanville from Bishop Sava, his meetings with Fr Seraphim and Herman in Platina, his hearing Fr Seraphim when he visited Jordanville, and his ongoing correspondence with Fr Seraphim. He spoke with much live and respect for both of them. I knew he had visited Fr Herman the day before and Fr Herman spoke of him kindly and how he remembered once serving together at the funeral for Archbishop Averky when Vladika was an arch deacon. 

Later, I enjoyed hearing from Mary Mansur and Solomonia and their personal stories and reflections. Also, Martinian Prince, son of Agafia, who shared humorous reflections as a 10 year old encountering and living with Fr Seraphim and Herman. 

That evening I was able to go and share with the sisters of St. Xenia Skete, Mother Dorothea, Mother Olga, and Mother Stefania. Mother Nectaria, Dimitrios from Malibu (whose wife Linda i had gone to Albania with), Jennifer from Santa Barbara, and other pilgrims were also there.) shared photos from pilgrimage and shared a few things with them. They were very joyful and delightful to be with. They have enlarged the church, built new cells, remodeled the kitchen area, and added a winter chapel. 

On the way back I saw Fr Herman briefly before I left. I had shown him the photos the day before and after his reflection on the trip and the events that had been blessed by God, he said with great joy, “Why would God give a non-Russian, all American, urban boy such obvious help on this pilgrimage. Many others have made this trip without such things happening (meeting elders, people showing such favor, doors opening)? A loan of grace….God has given you a loan … Of Grace! Now you must produce something from it! He reminded me of Meet John Doe (the Gary Cooper film). And he very much encouraged me about the village ideas for Kansas City. 
Now I leave for San Francisco to venerate St. John before I return home.

3 September 2012

Yesterday, served liturgy with HE Metropolitan HILARION, 1st Hierarch of ROCOR, Bishop Daniil of Bulgaria, Abbot Hilarion of St. Herman of Alaska Monastery in Platina, CA, Abbot Luka of Dajbaba in Serbia, Archim. Nectary of Mexico (ROCOR), Abbot Sava of Georgia, Hieromonk James from Joy of all who Sorrow Cathedral in SF (ROCOR), Fr. Michael Oyer, Dormition Bulgarian Orthodox Church in Santa Rosa, CA, Hieromonks Damascene and Paisius of St. Herman of Alaska Monastery in Platina, CA; and two deacons from ROCOR, with many in attendance for the 30th Repose of Fr. Seraphim Rose.

Then, we enjoyed wonderful smoked salmon meal. I sat next to Fr. Luka who

i had met in Montenegro. He is not only delightful, as we kept moving the bees from our food, but he is responsible frontwo monasteries in Montenegro. We also met Fr. Moses, a new African-american monk at Platina, who Fr. Hilarion blessed to come to the next Ancient Christianity and African American Conference in KC in October, 2013.

Then, we heard talks from those who knew Fr. Seraphim personally. I was especially touched by Metropolitan Hilarion sharing about his teenage discovery of OW, his blessing to go to Jordanville from Bishop Sava, his meetings with Fr Seraphim and Herman in Platina, his hearing Fr Seraphim when he visited Jordanville, and his ongoing correspondence with Fr Seraphim. He spoke with much live and respect for both of them. I knew he had visited Fr Herman the day before and Fr Herman spoke of him kindly and how he remembered once serving together at the funeral for Archbishop Averky when Vladika was an arch deacon.

Later, I enjoyed hearing from Mary Mansur and Solomonia and their personal stories and reflections. Also, Martinian Prince, son of Agafia, who shared humorous reflections as a 10 year old encountering and living with Fr Seraphim and Herman.

That evening I was able to go and share with the sisters of St. Xenia Skete, Mother Dorothea, Mother Olga, and Mother Stefania. Mother Nectaria, Dimitrios from Malibu (whose wife Linda i had gone to Albania with), Jennifer from Santa Barbara, and other pilgrims were also there.) shared photos from pilgrimage and shared a few things with them. They were very joyful and delightful to be with. They have enlarged the church, built new cells, remodeled the kitchen area, and added a winter chapel.

On the way back I saw Fr Herman briefly before I left. I had shown him the photos the day before and after his reflection on the trip and the events that had been blessed by God, he said with great joy, “Why would God give a non-Russian, all American, urban boy such obvious help on this pilgrimage. Many others have made this trip without such things happening (meeting elders, people showing such favor, doors opening)? A loan of grace….God has given you a loan … Of Grace! Now you must produce something from it! He reminded me of Meet John Doe (the Gary Cooper film). And he very much encouraged me about the village ideas for Kansas City.
Now I leave for San Francisco to venerate St. John before I return home.

2 September 2012

I’m writing from Fr. Gerasim’s cell (Spasi Gospodi :) in the pre-morning by the light of the screen on the computer. I’m in Platina! 

I arrived at the airport on time in Moscow by a ride from Dima (God bless him).  I left in the morning of 31 August and arrived in LAX in the evening of August 31, after passing through many time zones heading west, so I’m a little ‘foggy.’ 

Jennifer, a friend from Southern California who works with homeless persons there, picked me up and gave me a ride to Platina. She is exceptional and has a vision for intentional Orthodox community in Northern California, so we had much to talk about in reference to village and what I have just experienced in so many places.

When we arrived, pilgrims were already gathering. I had to drink in my spiritual birthplace… The ageless pines and  the ascending domes reaching together for God in the forest; the grave of Fr. Seraphim Rose — welcoming the humble, needy and seeking, but standing en guard against threatening spiritual forces; the familiar cells and paths winding through the trees; the upper and lower church with so many icons and relics of the saints I have just been with in Russia; and old friends growing from spiritual struggle (Fr. Michael Oyer, Hieromonk Paisy, Mother Nectaria (also just arrived from Moscow;), Abbot Hilarion, Monk Moses (who helped us in our bookstore many moons ago, and who looks younger), Nun Dorothea, our Rainbow (Xenia), and the first to meet me? Georgia from Kansas City, who has been caring for her ailing father in Alaska. Many others including monks, old and new, and many pilgrims were gathering. After awhile, Metropolitan Hilarion from the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad arrived. He spoke some very kind words about Platina and Fr. Seraphim in the church and then we proceeded to the grave of Fr. Seraphim for a Pannehida (memorial) service. Served in English and Slavonic, with clergy and monks, all chanted responses. The memorial weekend had begun and my pilgrimage was turning now to re-enter America.

2 September 2012

I’m writing from Fr. Gerasim’s cell (Spasi Gospodi :) in the pre-morning by the light of the screen on the computer. I’m in Platina!

I arrived at the airport on time in Moscow by a ride from Dima (God bless him). I left in the morning of 31 August and arrived in LAX in the evening of August 31, after passing through many time zones heading west, so I’m a little ‘foggy.’

Jennifer, a friend from Southern California who works with homeless persons there, picked me up and gave me a ride to Platina. She is exceptional and has a vision for intentional Orthodox community in Northern California, so we had much to talk about in reference to village and what I have just experienced in so many places.

When we arrived, pilgrims were already gathering. I had to drink in my spiritual birthplace… The ageless pines and the ascending domes reaching together for God in the forest; the grave of Fr. Seraphim Rose — welcoming the humble, needy and seeking, but standing en guard against threatening spiritual forces; the familiar cells and paths winding through the trees; the upper and lower church with so many icons and relics of the saints I have just been with in Russia; and old friends growing from spiritual struggle (Fr. Michael Oyer, Hieromonk Paisy, Mother Nectaria (also just arrived from Moscow;), Abbot Hilarion, Monk Moses (who helped us in our bookstore many moons ago, and who looks younger), Nun Dorothea, our Rainbow (Xenia), and the first to meet me? Georgia from Kansas City, who has been caring for her ailing father in Alaska. Many others including monks, old and new, and many pilgrims were gathering. After awhile, Metropolitan Hilarion from the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad arrived. He spoke some very kind words about Platina and Fr. Seraphim in the church and then we proceeded to the grave of Fr. Seraphim for a Pannehida (memorial) service. Served in English and Slavonic, with clergy and monks, all chanted responses. The memorial weekend had begun and my pilgrimage was turning now to re-enter America.

Cell at St Xenia Skete, Wildwood, CA, 9 miles from Platina.

Cell at St Xenia Skete, Wildwood, CA, 9 miles from Platina.

St. Herman Alaska monastery: Platina, CA - awaiting the morning Liturgy for the 30th repose of Fr. Seraphim Rose.

St. Herman Alaska monastery: Platina, CA - awaiting the morning Liturgy for the 30th repose of Fr. Seraphim Rose.