Recently, Matthew777, Zebu, and I went on a journey to the All-Merciful Savior Monastery on Vashon Island, Washington. By the good fortune of encountering each other in OC.net, we had an opportunity to extend the love, hard work, and endless discussions that characterize the people of God in this forum. Zebu and I met last summer through OC.net, and meeting Matthew777 to journey with him and Zebu gives me great confidence in the friendships and abillities of this group. This is a story of our brief trip to Vashon.
Matthew777 came up late Friday night to join me at a stay at my apartment. When he arrived, fortune carried us to my friend's apartment, where we began to spend several hours with my friends. Sometime during the night, Zebu came and went, and by the time we decided to head back to my apartment and sleep, it was already deep into the night. By the time we slept, some people were waking up to do their early Saturday morning work. We woke a few hours later, called Zebu to wake him, and began to pack our things to begin our trip.
None of us have a car so we had to take the bus. To get to Vashon Island, we needed to take a bus to the ferry, and timing those buses in Seattle can be very trying. No matter what trouble we had, we eventually arrived at the ferry early that morning, feeling the strain of exhaustion from lack of sleep while at the same time the excitement of our trip.
The ferry ride was gorgeous. The Puget Sound provided a great sense of peace from the fast pace of city life. We took breakfast together, and prepared for the travels that lay ahead of us.
When we disembarked from the ferry, we waited for a bus. At this point, sleepiness began to set in, and we persevered through it. We took the bus towards the monastery, only to find ourselves several miles and a bay between ourselves and the monastery. At this point we found some wonderful coffee and contemplated our next move. Then we began the slow walk that would try us for the next few hours.
We never asked for anyone to pick us up, and so a brisk walk turned into a prolonged hike through the hills and valleys of beautiful Vashon Island. After a few hours, we made it.
The brotherhood of the monastery gave us lunch and a fine cabin to stay in. After we settled our things and our stomachs, we set out on clearing the remnants of December storm damage on their trails. After a few hours of clearing, it was time for Vespers.
This Church is beautiful. Most of it is donated from the Vashon community, and has the finest wood, paint, finishes, lamps, icon collections, and feel for such a small house of the Lord. Vespers really set a rhythm to our memory of the day, inserting "again and again in peace let us pray to the Lord" throughout our recollection of the experience of the day.
The families that came were so friendly, and committed, to the parish community attached to the monastery. We took a light supper together with them, and then finally retreated to sleeeeep.
We woke late the next day and had a short walk to the Church from our cabin. After the Liturgy, we exchanged forgiveness, which was a first for several present. One could tell that it was a learning process for the whole congregation on how to truly exchange a holy kiss, as the Apostle exhorts. The parishioners afterward joined together for a fine lunch, the last one as a parish community before Lent. We were definitely welcomed, and caught a ride back to Seattle.
After we crossed the ferry, Matthew777's family picked him up from the dock. His father and brother greeted us with great respect, and there was a subtle joy in Matthew's countenance when he finally saw them. Zebu and I returned to our Seattle homes, and felt the weariness of our travels.
It was well worth the trouble, and I hope that OC.net Northwest will be able to again go on a retreat. I hope, too, that the rest of you on OC.net who live around here would send a message to us saying hello!