Totally had the best day yesterday and, in a mere 11 hours, succeeded in doing what a full week of vacation could not do for me.
A day at the Holy Dormition Monastery for the Feast of the Dormition of Mary apparently was what I needed to turn. my. brain. off.
I wish I could take you there, to the monastery, to the peace and quiet of Orthodoxy and to the deep, cool calm of this faith. I want to tell you all about it: to describe the incense as it wafted over the heads of hundreds of pilgrims standing in the outdoor chapel, to tell you how the birds seemed to join us all in the Liturgy as we sang (in no less than five different languages). I wish you could have seen the nuns bustling about, like so many Marthas, working hard for us so we could be blessed on this, their feast day celebrating Mary. I wish I could tell you about Fr. Roman, most likely a living saint, who spent so much time in a Romanian prison (in solitary) for preaching the Gospel and living out his faith. If you could see how quietly this little man stood, singing with his sisters in the choir and bringing no attention to himself at all. But when the service was done, the bishop checked with the little monk priest, to ask him if there was anything else that needed saying. (If Fr. Roman says it, it’s probably what you needed to hear)
I walked the grounds, swatting mosquitoes in the woods. I took my shoes off while I watched the chickens pecking the dirt. I took pictures of the little kids playing in the garden the nuns made for them. We ate a simple lunch on tables set among the trees.
On the trip home, I road back with Roza, a Macedonian immigrant via Albania. She remembers when the communists tore down her village church. She bakes the bread a lot for Communion on Sundays, but her story and the passion with which she shared it, well, that was communion of another kind.
All of this was Communion. Sacramental. Sharing. Working in common.
It sure beat criminal court.