The first thing that greeted me this morning was a parish email saying that Metropolitan Philip had died during the night. It hit me harder than I would have expected. Decades ago, he was the one who opened the Orthodox church to ethnic Americans. He ordained Bishop Mark and Bishop Anthony, the first American-born bishops. He had a vision for the Archdiocese that was ahead of its time - he foresaw a truly American church. He opened the doors and took in whole parishes, like us, and even whole denominations. We converts owe him so much.
The thing I'd known about since Sunday was that the Kursk Root Icon was to be in Goshen today. I know you got to see and venerate it when it was here several years ago, but I didn't. I'd planned to leave work early today and go to Holy Protection for the Akathist. As usual, nothing went as planned.
I got a text from Bekah around 10:30 saying that the icon was on its way to St. Mary's, where there would be prayers for Metropolitan Philip. I told everybody that I'd be back in an hour or two, and drove the three miles to the church. All the area priests were there, and a couple of dozen people came dashing in from work during the course of the afternoon. I was glad I was there for a lot of reasons, but especially for Father, since I was the only reader-chanter-type-person who could come. I can't begin to describe what it was like to venerate a 700-year-old miracle-working icon, but I don't have to because you know. I was gone from work about an hour and a half, and nobody minded.
Because of missing that time, I didn't get off early enough to go to Holy Protection tonight. But that didn't matter because I got to venerate the icon this morning. It's an amazing thing, to be in its presence and know its story. Between that and Metropolitan Philip's death, it's been a very emotional day. And thank you for praying for me - I did actually sleep last night. I'm still very tired, which isn't at all surprising. I'm going to bed as soon as I finish talking to you.
So please keep praying for me, that I'll sleep and get rested up. And pray for Metropolitan Philip, too. And pray for the Archdiocese, and the process that will choose our new Father. Considering his age and health, I'm sure Damascus has been preparing for this for some time. We are in the hands of our wonderful bishops. Memory eternal!
Love you so, so much,