WHAT a joy my visit to the OCA Cathedral in New York has proved to be! Who would have thought that I would feel so welcome among these extreme urbanites First, the church itself is breath-taking: not only beautiful, but in very good taste, clean and efficiently organised. Almost everything in this church seems to have been made by one of the parishioners, most icons have a story behind them, even the Gospel covers were made by someone in the church. And there is so much wood everywhere (I love wood)! The floors, the ceiling, the iconostasis, the icons, the Altar and its wonderful baldacchino – everything is made of wood, creating a sort of intimacy that is surreal for New York City!
The people are wonderful, too. Not for one second did they make me feel out of place, uncomfortable or simply ‘from another world’ (which, in many ways, I actually am). I could speak freely and honestly about things that concern me, and we discovered that a monk from an Atlantic isle and people in the centre of the urban world can think alike, feel alike and share hopes and fears that affect us all.
Their generosity was also humbling – they donated close to 1,500 dollars for our monastery. I found out later that they also helped establish a small skete on the Holy Mountain, and that they organise weekly collections for a variety of good causes. I want to thank each and every one of them, starting with Fr Christopher Calin and Archdeacon Michael. I feared these two days for no reason – I feared, as St David puts it, where there is no fear: they are loving people, more open and compassionate than I could have hoped for. May God bless them, and help them preserve their faith and love.
PS: I must also say this: the choir is beyond words! I have no idea what they do, but the choir sounds like they are all a family, living together and knowing each other for a lifetime! I myself am not a singer (I can hardly find the vocal strength to go through a sermon), so it feels even more amazing when I hear what human voices can do when they have the right mind-set and the right heart.