We were given a gift by our bishop for Holy Week and Pascha. It was a young priest and his wife and daughter. He was to serve the Holy Week services and also Pascha for our parish this year. We looked forward to it as we have not had very many Lenten services with a priest this Lent.
I think our parish grew more spiritually in that one week than we have in the last year. I have never seen more crying than I did tonight at our last vespers that was served by him tonight. I have never had so many of my opinionated friends fall in love with the same priest and his wife so quickly and insist they stay. We have not had a priest that liked us so much and showed us love in a long time. As we speak they are in a car on the way to the airport. All but one of my kids cried when they left our house tonight, and she was sleeping. They are headed back to sunny California and parents and grandparents.
How can us backwoods Alaskans compete with that?
It's in God's hands now. I feel so sad that they are gone. I will be so happy if they return. I don't like feeling such extreme of emotions. I have been crying on and off the last few days (I don't cry) and the kids keep asking me why. I tell them it's a happy cry, but it's not. It's a happy and sad cry at the same time. I will be so sad if they don't come back and I'll be so relieved and happy if they do come back.
Our parish has been on a roller coaster ride for the last 10 years. We have had temporary and "permanent" priests, loving and grumpy priests, but never a priest who said, "If I move here I will die here and I want your sons to bury me here." THAT is what I want, THAT is what I need, THAT is what we all, after all of these years, need. We had our healing priest, we had our priest that bonded us together as an actual church family, we had a priest that gave our parish a shot of adrenaline, and another that, well, tested us. We have also had many bouts of no priest and "I don't know if we'll ever get a priest" and finally, "maybe we don't deserve a priest." We are ready for a spiritual leader. I hope that if he leaves his home and his family behind that we will treat him well and appreciate him, and even if that means it's not him in particular but someone else.
|Epitaphios and gospel from Holy Friday|