It is an incredible thing to visit the incorupt body of St. John Maximovitch in San Francisco. The nearness of such an incredible man is a shock to one’s system. It’s like having cold water splashed on your spirit; you realize what is possible, what is near, and how dark you yourself are. All this while experiencing hope, joy, and love.
I’ve had similar shocks from visiting monastics lately too. Last month the elder Dionysius visited St. Seraphim with Metropolitan Jonah. He came with some of his spiritual children, whose love for mankind were apparent, and whose tenacity and devotion to God were tangible. And I do mean tangible – the air was thick with it. We were blessed to have a small dinner with the group of them, and to ask the elder questions. For about an hour we sat at his feet – the Metropolitan, the Dean of a Seminary, a couple priests, and a couple families. I have little more to say about that, except that it was loving and holy.
Nowadays there’s a distrust of monasticism, and for that matter, of holiness. I don’t claim to be an expert, but now that I have gotten to know the monks and nuns that walk among us, I find myself extremely reliant upon them. The ones that I have met, I trust like an infant trust his mother. I get this sense to from the books I’ve read, like The Mountain of Silence, from the writings of the contemporary elders, and from the enlivened faces of my friends when they return from trips to monasteries.
In a time of scandal and fear, my experience cries for trust and obedience.