We had a bit of a struggle with the Slavonic Matins because some of the readers were absent and, when the Liturgy began there was scarcely a soul around. How saddening it was, I thought, but then the main door kept opening with more and more people entering to fill the church. Saint John of San Francisco’s panagia, framed in a small display box, was placed on an analoy for people to reverence. Since this is the last Sunday before the beginning of the Nativity Lent, an abundance of food was on the serving tables and whatever was left will be eaten in the next couple of days. I was touched by the kind wishes and the singing of Many Years for me by a group of people who wished to remember that it was my name day earlier this week. It felt odd when I was asked to chant the introduction to the singing of Many Years [I seem to be the one who does this for everyone else] and I ended it with “…and grant me many years.” We all had a good laugh at this touch of humour. Naturally, there was a lot of hugging and kissing, intermingled with an occasional tear.
[Photo below: a blue heron takes flight from the stream at the south boundary of the monastery]