Saturday, July 22/August 4, 2012, St. Mary Magdalene
As our time in Russia nears its end, every moment becomes more and more precious. In the morning, we all attend Liturgy at St. Nicholas of Ugresha Monastery just outside of Moscow. It has all the elements of a quintessential spiritual fortress: very tall and slender bell tower, large and substantial cathedral with ample relics for veneration (including one small one of our own St. Herman of Alaska!), plenty of smaller satellite churches for weekday services, and to top it all off, a quiet nearby pond to reflect the brilliance. After lunch, I embark on my adventure of the evening: following directions on the metro to a church that has an English-speaking priest to hear my confession.
I have found a way recently to give a confession in Russian even with my poor knowledge of the language, but the method is not ideal. First, I type my confession in English and paste it into google translate to produce a working copy. Then I have a native speaker I trust look it over and correct awkward phrases, poor word choices, etc. Finally, I hand-write the corrected translation onto another piece of paper and bring it with me to the priest at confession. Technically, I could bring the type-written translation, but it is more personal this way and good language practice for me. This is a good way to confess in isolated areas where English-speaking priests are hard to come by. But in Moscow, it is relatively easy. I found the one I see tonight through another American friend that lives in Moscow almost full time.
As I find the little church off of Tverskaya Street, it is perfect timing, for the downpour that has been holding itself back most of the day finally releases. From within the narthex of this little wayside inn of salvation, I behold the wonder of a refreshing Moscow summer rain. The weather here really is quite refreshing overall for summertime. It is always about 10 degrees cooler than Boston with humidity well below 50%. Besides this, the brooding, overcast skies are simply alluring. The subject of many a landscape artist’s rendering, Moscow skies can make the most scheduled person linger with unpredictability.
What could possibly bring this rambling post to an end besides sounding another note on the precious nature of each moment in time? Each is a moment to appreciate little things like rain and broody skies, but it is also precious time to confess and repent. The priest who hears my sins and looks on me with kindness and understanding reminds me once again of the God whose refreshing rain falls equally on the just and the unjust. May this same Lord have pity on this poor sinner’s soul and grant us all a place in His Kingdom. Amen.