Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Memoir of Travels to The Hermitage in Big Sur, California by Peter Menkin--August 15, 2016

My introduction to the Hermitage began through an Episcopal Priest named Father Jack. He was very dear to me, and through the years became a man and Priest I came not only to admire, but also love in Christ. He often had offered me Communion since he was Vicar of the Parish I attended in Marin  
County, California (north of San Francisco). The Parish, Church of Our Redeemer, was small, but for me lovely.

Another Priest taught Bible Study, and I found her Homilies quite fascinating and so inspiring. I can't always say that of Homilies, especially many that fail to be anchored as well as hers in the New Testament. Zoila Schoenbrun moved to St. Stephens Church in Belvedere, a very beautiful Church
Peter in Bookstore
with an exclusive group of Parishioners who were very generous in helping others. They have a wonderful Choir inviting all. In fact, I believe they offer a music program that has professional musicians. You probably know Episcopal Music is wonderful: Its Hymns and Hymnal well known: Celebrated!

Reverand Zoila, too, helped me find The Hermitage and cultivate my love and talent for Contemplation that she recognized in me. I was fortunate for their willingness to notice my gift and help me reach towards God's Call in my life I did become an Oblate of The Hermitage in Big Sur, California. I did attend Seminary to become a Deacon in the Episcopal Church. I loved the Contemplative direction and richness this kind of life in the spirit gave me. It brought a wonderful gift to me: Christ.

The Hermitage cultivated this gift, and allowed me to find time and place to be quiet, know the Lord in more ways. I am surprised by my need for Christ, the discovery of the Call I have felt and been nurturing all my life. I thank God for The Hermitage, and the visits I've made to it, and to Incarnation Monastery in Berkeley.

The two are inseparable in my mind in so many ways.

The Hermitage is part of my life, and has brought direction to my heart, so that it has a place in my heart. It helps me with my desire to be with God, even when I am not literally at The Hermitage, or
Fog viewed from Mountain
have the Monks closer to me to be with them in Joy.

I have been able to sit with many elderly people as a minister in the Episcopal Church. Many I have sat with in silence as they rested alone. These may have been waiting for last times, expecting an angel to visit and accompany them. Often I have prayed with a man who has after prayer wanted me to talk about Heaven--of Christ.

One man seriously needed a Monk to visit him. He needed one of the Camaldolese to come bless him. He'd visited The Hermitage, and worshiped often when he visited with the Monks. This man demanded I phone the Hermitage to ask if they would accept his van. He wanted a Monk to come see him desperately as the end approached.

Of course, Mill Valley is too far from Big Sur. The time was short for my friend.  The Senior Monk on the phone gave me a gift, knowing I was a "Brother" out in the world, an Oblate. The gift allowed me to bless my friend in the name of the Camaldolese. I was now able to bless this man in the name of The Hermitage. What a wonderful gift I was about to give this man. I knew how to give him a form of the last rites. I am not a Priest, but I do have a small book that tells me what I may do. I gave him the blessing he desired. He was happy.

He started to pass away, and I phoned 911. The operator told me to start giving him mouth to mouth before the Paramedics arrived. I'd never done this before. I put my mouth on his, and began the
Linda and tree
mouth to mouth to keep him alive. The 911 operator stayed on the phone. I felt so strange doing this, I'll tell you. This man really needed to rest in the Lord. I wanted to leave him to his peace. The world would not allow me to do this.

The first Paramedic arrived and came through the bedroom door, looking into the room. He saw me over this small man, my mouth on his, holding him up. I looked so strange doing this, I am sure. I knew he was dead, and was glad he had peace. I was breathing my air into lungs of a man meeting angels, my mouth on his. The Paramedic looked like he was going to arrest me as an odd man killing this man. Then he could hear the 911 on the speaker. When he stepped into the room, I stopped the mouth to mouth. I was happy to do so.

These big men, bigger than I, arrived so very fast. They knew it was a life or death call. My new friend had passed away before I'd called 911. He was blessed in the name of The Hermitage as was his wish before God. He was at peace.

I tell you this story so you know The Hermitage has a very powerful effect on many people. A visitor can be deeply moved by their visits. I am brought to quiet and rest. Sometimes I have actually slept most of the day. Thank God the Monks say it is all right to sleep,.if that is what you must do. I can give testimony to how kind the Monks are with guests, and how much just plain simple is a visit: The Hermitage gives of its beauty, and its peace. -- Peter Menkin

This work appeared originally, and can be seen on its pages now.

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