Have you been to Mountain View yet?
Even when I am just driving past Mountain View, along Rte 145, on my work-related travels, my heart rejoices. As I near the bend in the road, my heart begins to lighten and my mood brightens. As I catch the first sight of the majestic estate up on the hill, I feel an involuntary smile and a feeling of comfort. And now the glorious, new, golden cupola and Orthodox Cross shining over the valley not only witnesses to all those driving by, it reinforces and strengthens all those who come especially to visit.
You see, I stood for over 2 decades, every week, in the once glorious bastion of truth, the once coveted ark, in Jordanville. And yes, like all of us, when it finally happened, I mean - the betrayal, I grieved deeply. It was numbing for years. Loss is one thing. Betrayal is worse. Loss happens. Betrayal is carried out.
We were willing to lose property. We were not willing to betray Christ. By God's grace and mercy, we did not "go along" on that final day of signing. Everyone made their choice, whether they admit it or not. That day was a historical day of choice.
During those days, weeks, months and years after that sorrowful day, I would often recall how the Apostles and believers must have felt during those 3 days immediately following the crucifixion of our Lord. What confusion mixed with sorrow. Those were, undoubtedly, dark and unsure days.
And what did the believers do through those most terrible days? Indeed, that day of the horrible and ignoble crucifixion of Jesus Christ, our God, was certainly the most awful day in the history of the world : what did the believers do? Those who were able, followed through. The myrrh bearers kept watch by night and wept. Joseph of Arimathea requested permission to bury the Lord's body. He and Nicodemus went by night to tend to the body, bringing oils and myrrh for the burial rites. These are the tasks, caring tasks, that must follow death. Through the numbing, calamitous and fearful events, these brave and sober saints carried through. We sing to them and about them every Pascha. Their story within the great events leading to the Resurrection of Christ is one of deep courage and faith.
And, so now in current times, as the days and months have turned into years since that terrible day, we continue to follow through, doing what needs to be done, when and how we can. Scattered parishes have struggled and still struggle to stay together, first serving in homes, then finding office buildings to rent and then progress to the bigger plans of building a Church. Others have spent much time, money and emotional energy defending Church properties in court. And, yet others have purchased lands and buildings with the intent to create once again, places for us to gather and be together, pray together, identify together, re-grow and grow together.
Mountain View is one example. What a good thing. Here is another modern day example of following through with patience. Here is another wonderful work in progress. Every time I visit, dear Vladyka Andronik shows me the work being done. And, oh my - only the best will be brought in to this new symbol, this new bastion of ROCA. I am reminded of the efforts of wealthy 19th century Russian merchants and nobility who would build churches and institutions, sparing nothing, for the Glory of God.
Need I describe the renovation work in progress? The Church itself, dedicated to the New Martyrs of Russia, has the newly carved and incredibly beautiful cherry wood iconastasis, new marble and oak floors, and the vaulted blue ceiling has a majestic chandelier hanging. Renovations in the great residence halls are continuously ongoing with new floors, baths, walls, windows:. This place is really becoming a place!
There is a small pond - you can even swim or fish! And, I like to walk through the forest up the mountainside listening to the happy song birds. Closer to the buildings you can hear the goats and chickens alternatively bleating and clucking. During the summer, there is the abundant vegetable garden to tend.
Here, really is a bright light. This is a place. A really substantial, magnificent place. To be sure, it is a work in progress, and, will be so for a while. But wow - it is ours! Glory to God. Here is a place again. We all accepted, back on that terrible day, that we would lose physical properties for the sake of staying True to Christ. And now, after many years, we have a place again - a place suitable to become a center. It is an impressive place - with the potential to "follow through".
I was happy to learn that, in addition to the regular Slavonic Divine Services, there will be English Services held once a month in Mountain View. I hope you will be able to go! Spend the night: there are plenty of rooms with beds. If you can't make it this month, go next month... or any time in between. If you have not been to Mountain View yet - well, then, go!
Matushka Joanne Grigoriev.Sunday of Saint Gregory Palamas, 2013