St Tikhon’s Calendar featuring Thebaid Photographs goes to press

The 2019 St Tikhon’s Monastery Press Liturgical Calendar has reached its final form, and is going to press. I feel deeply honored to have contributed the images for next year’s calendar, which has as its theme and subtitle ‘Monasteries of North America’.

STM-Calendar-2019-Cover

The 2019 St Tikhon’s Liturgical Calendar is truly the “first fruits” of the North American Thebaid Photographic Pilgrimage, and represents the first appearance in print of my photographs from my 2+ years journey to over thirty Orthodox Christian monasteries in North America.

In previous years the St. Tikhon’s Calendar has featured photos of Orthodox parishes, rare festal icons and frescoes, and other beautiful scenes to accompany the journey through the year. The guide to daily scripture readings, major feasts, fasting guides, and saints’ days makes a liturgical calendar such as this essential for Orthodox Christians seeking to live their lives in a manner faithful to Christ and His Church. The 2019 calendar’s visual reminder of our monastic brothers and sisters who have left the world to follow Christ and the Gospel will hopefully serve as added inspiration and encouragement for us all.

Scroll down for a gallery of several of the images featured in the calendar. From the St Tikhon’s Press product description:

The St. Tikhon’s Lectionary Wall Calendar has become a most treasured item in homes and churches throughout the Orthodox world in America. The 2019 calendar includes 12 photographs of North American monasteries, plus detailed information for each day of the liturgical year.

Calendars include:

  • Major Feast Days & Saints
  • Fasting Guidelines
  • Scripture Readings
  • Old Calendar Dates for Major Feasts & Saints
  • Excerpts from His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon’s, Of What Life Do We Speak?, now available from STM Press
  • Special Liturgical Notes
  • 12 photographs of American monasteries including images from the forthcoming book from photographer Ralph Sidway, The North American Thebaid
  • Custom Imprint on orders of 20 or more
  • Order online here.

 

All photographs © Ralph H. Sidway.

 

NEW GALLERY POSTED: St Herman of Alaska Monastery, Platina CA

At long last, I’ve posted dozens of my photos from St Herman of Alaska Monastery in Platina, California.

 

North American Thebaid Photographic Pilgrimage
The rustic cell of Hieromonk Seraphim (Rose), preserved as it was during his lifetime.

St. Herman’s is perhaps best known for having been founded by Hieromonk Seraphim (Rose), of blessed memory, who died in 1982 at the young age of 48. St Herman Press continues the publishing legacy of Father Seraphim and the early “Platina Years”, and this remote monastery continues to draw pilgrims from all over the world. I was able to enjoy nearly full week here, and come away with vivid memories and a strong sense of attachment to the monastery and brotherhood.

North American Thebaid Photographic PilgrimageI made a large number of photographs from my visit, and it has taken far longer to select and edit than I expected or wished — and I’m still not finished! Rather than delay any longer, I have posted Part 1 on the new Gallery page for St Herman’s, and hope to complete my editing over the next several days. The next batch includes some beautiful images made during the Vigil service, which I believe will be well worth the wait. (I will also be adding captions to the just posted photos in Part 1.)

As always, my heartfelt thanks for your patience with the slow pace of posting recently, and for your continued prayers and support.

Watch for more news soon on the publishing end of the project!

 

St Tikhon’s 2019 Liturgical Calendar to feature photographs from The North American Thebaid Project

I feel deeply honored to have several of my images from my two-year pilgrimage to over thirty Orthodox monasteries across North America included in this important calendar, which is an annual “must have” resource for Orthodox Christians in the USA and Canada.

St Tikhon 2019 Calendar Promo
Free custom imprint and free shipping for orders of 20 or more.

Previous years have featured photos of Orthodox parishes, rare festal icons and frescoes, and other beautiful scenes to accompany the journey through the year. The inclusion of daily scripture readings, major feasts, fasting guides, and saints’ days makes a liturgical calendar such as this essential to the serious Orthodox Christian who has dedicated him or herself to follow hard after Christ.

In addition to the photographs of life in American Monasteries, the 2019 St Tikhon’s Calendar also features select excerpts from His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon’s landmark work, Of What Life Do We Speak?, making this an especially edifying and inspiring keepsake.

 

From St Tikhon’s Monastery Press announcement:

The St. Tikhon’s Lectionary Wall Calendar has become a most treasured item in homes and churches throughout the Orthodox world in America. The 2019 calendar includes 12 photographs of North American monasteries, plus detailed information for each day of the liturgical year.

Calendars include:

  • Major Feast Days & Saints
  • Fasting Guidelines
  • Scripture Readings
  • ‘Old Calendar’ Dates for Major Feasts & Saints
  • Excerpts from His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon’s, Of What Life Do We Speak?
  • Special Liturgical Notes
  • 12 photographs of American monasteries including images from the forthcoming book from photographer Ralph Sidway, The North American Thebaid
  • Free Custom Imprint and Free Shipping on orders of 20 or more.

Visit the St Tikhon’s Monastery Press website for more info and to order. Below are a few of my photographs set to be featured in the 2019 Calendar:

 

 

Three New Galleries from California

Editing my photos has been in itself a great experience for me, to revisit my monastery pilgrimages from this summer, and rekindle the flame from these soul-stirring visits with monks and nuns who have left everything to follow Christ in the monastic life.

North American Thebaid Photographic Pilgrimage
The self-renewing icon of St Nicholas (left foreground), iconostasis at Holy Assumption Monastery, Calistoga CA.

 

I just finished posting three new galleries, each of which includes a brief overview of the monastery in question, with links for you to further explore and plan your own pilgrimages:

Watch for more new galleries soon, as I continue to catch up with photo editing. Next up are St Herman of Alaska in Platina CA, All-Merciful Saviour in Vashon Island WA, and the Alaskan pilgrimage, followed by my return trip to monasteries in Arizona and Texas.

North American Thebaid Photographic Pilgrimage
Fr Innocent inspecting a hive; notice the bees all around him… and his smile!

If you haven’t yet pre-ordered the Thebaid book, I invite you to do so. For a limited time you can still get a signed/matted fine-art print from the Thebaid project, when you pre-order a signed book. The Deluxe Limited Edition Thebaid Book in bonded leather (signed & numbered) is still available for pre-orders, and also comes with a signed/matted fine-art print. Full details and easy online ordering here.

As always, my heartfelt thanks for your prayers and support!

 

ANOTHER NEW GALLERY: St Silouan Monastery in Sonora CA

This was a very special visit for me, as Monk Ignatius and I have been corresponding off and on for nearly a decade, and I have dear friends in Cincinnati who also have strong ties to the monastery.

North American Thebaid Photographic Pilgrimage

Even on this brief visit, I was able to get a real sense of the Brotherhood’s vision for the monastery, which is beautifully situated near Yosemite, a modest drive from San Francisco, Fresno, and Sacramento. Fr Ignatius’ vision for the property and the brothers’ warmth and hospitality are quite infectious, and I hope to return again soon, God willing.

Proceed to the new Gallery page, which also includes links to the St Silouan Monastery web site, and additional info.

North American Thebaid Photographic Pilgrimage
The current main building…

 

NEW GALLERY: St Barbara Monastery, Santa Paula CA

The pace of my travels the past few weeks has been so steady as to leave no time for photo editing, but during this, my last week of travel on my western pilgrimage, I wanted to begin catching up on the many photos from California, Washington, Alaska, Arizona, and now Texas!

North American Thebaid Photographic Pilgrimage
Lighting the lampadas; St Barbara Monastery, Santa Paula CA.

First up in this new group of galleries is St Barbara’s in Santa Paula, a beautiful women’s monastery situated in the steep but rolling hills of Southern California, just a short drive from the Pacific and many beautiful destinations. Follow this link to the new gallery, where you can also proceed to the monastery website to learn more about this blessed and important community of nuns.

St Herman, Spruce Island & the Alaskan Pilgrimage

This past Tuesday I returned to Anchorage from Kodiak, having spent four days with the monks at Archangel Michael Skete on Spruce Island.

IMG_1464
Our monk skipper departs after dropping us pilgrims off at the landing for the return to Kodiak.

 

I’m back on the road today for my return leg, and am just putting up this quick post before leaving for the Divine Liturgy at St George (Antiochian) near Portland OR, so, as usual, I beg your patience and ask you to watch for photo galleries on this blessed chapter in my ongoing pilgrimage to Orthodox Christian monasteries in  North America.

These are unedited photos, which I will rework and re-post as soon as I can, but they give a tiny glimpse of the holy wonder I experienced on Spruce Island:

For a delightful look at the annual St Herman Pilgrimage, see this video report by Indie Alaska.

As always, my heartfelt thanks for your prayers and support!

 

 

A Quick Update before Alaska

I’m very thankful for all my travel plans coming together, and for my pilgrimage to Alaska (which begins later this morning!), but this has had the effect of delaying again the posting of new photo galleries for another couple of weeks.

I did want to give you at least a few images before going ‘off the grid’ yet again, so think of these as a promise of future galleries. There is a wide variety f images of monastic life to share, and numerous new images for the final book itself. Glory to God!

As always, thank you for your prayers and support!

 

More Galleries coming soon! Seven more, and then some…

I wish to thank everyone for your patience with my erratic gallery posting during this amazing period of travels.

North American Thebaid Photographic Pilgrimage
Very soon I’ll post a gallery which will take you through this entrance into another world…

Since July 1 alone, I have traveled to ten monasteries (in Arizona and California), and am literally getting in the car immediately after posting this to head to #11 this month, All-Merciful Saviour (Men’s, ROCOR), on Vashon Island WA. After that, I’ll be flying to Alaska, where I hope to take a boat to Archangel Michael and St Nilus sketes on Spruce Island, as well as visit Protecting Veil in Anchorage.

So, I am striving to do some quick edits and post galleries from seven monasteries, with another 3 or 4 following in early August. Coming up, in the order in which they were visited:

  • St Barbara Monastery, Santa Paula CA
  • St Silouan Monastery, Sonora CA
  • Holy Cross Monastery, Castro Valley CA
  • Holy Assumption Monastery, Calistoga CA
  • Monastery of St John of San Francisco, Manton CA
  • St Herman of Alaska Monastery, Platina CA
  • St Xenia Skete, Wildwood CA
  • All-Merciful Savior Monastery, Vashon Island WA

I should add that I had a wonderful visit at Annunciation Orthodox Church in Milwaukie OR for early morning Matins today, July 27, and hope to visit there again either before or immediately after my Alaska trip, and share more with the parish about the Thebaid Project.

I’m also trying to add a few other monasteries to my return trip, which may see me cross Washington State over to Spokane, then back south to Colorado and Arizona, and east across Texas on my way back to Birmingham AL.

If you have yet to pre-order the North American Thebaid book, doing so now helps me enormously with travel costs, and guarantees you will receive your copy before general distribution begins later this Autumn. There will be both a Standard Hardcover, Clothbound Edition, and a Deluxe Limited Edition in Bonded Leather, which will be signed and numbered and will have a special acknowledgments page listing supporters who pre-ordered the Deluxe Ltd. Ed. book.

Thank you all for your prayers and support!

 

Venerating a Saint, and Sunset at the Pacific

During the course of my Western Pilgrimage, I have (somewhat reluctantly) passed by many touristy destinations so as to keep to both my schedule and my purpose. The growing list is quirky, and includes the following:

  • Red Rocks Amphitheater, Denver CO (their Performers Hall of Fame is a ‘Who’s Who’ of Rock and Roll artists, ranging from Dan Fogelberg to U2, Sting, The Beatles, and many more)
  • Los Alamos NM (site of the development of the Atomic Bomb)
  • Roswell NM (site of the infamous alleged UFO crash in 1947
  • The Very Large Array Radio Telescope, NM (featured in the Jodie Foster film, ‘Contact’)
  • Alamogordo, New Mexico (site of the ‘Trinity’ Atomic Bomb Test)
  • Tombstone, Arizona (legendary Western town)
  • Joshua Tree National Forest (beloved by many U2 fans)
  • Yosemite (beloved by two photographer heroes of mine, Ansel Adams and John Sexton)
  • Golden Gate Park (though I drove across the Golden Gate Bridge)
  • Petrified Forest CA (though I have felt petrified at times by many of the canyons and cliffs I have been driving around!)
  • and more…

Any of these detours might have been justified, but would have extended my travels, and detracted from and confused my pilgrim’s progress.

However, I have chosen to add two specific sites to my itinerary: Holy Virgin Russian Orthodox Cathedral, and the Pacific Ocean.

Holy Virgin Cathedral (‘Joy of All Who Sorrow’) was built in the 1960s, and shepherded to completion by the much beloved wonderworking saint, Archbishop John Maximovitch, who had also been bishop in Shanghai and Western Europe. St John is such a towering figure in contemporary Orthodoxy that his impact is immeasurable. I am deeply thankful  I was able to navigate the traffic to worship at the Cathedral for the Divine Liturgy on Sunday, July 15, and to venerate St. John’s incorrupt relics, which are enclosed in a beautiful shrine and canopy on the right hand side of the lofty cathedral.

 

As for the Pacific Ocean, I had expected to be able to find a beach and walk and photograph easily, but due to the demands of photo editing and travel, I was able only to make two brief excursions to the coast, to Dillon Beach, and Bodega Bay, where I made a few photographs, which I share with you here. There is such deep symbolism and power in contemplating the ocean…

North American Thebaid Photographic Pilgrimage
Sunset, hills of Dillon Beach, Pacific Ocean.
North American Thebaid Photographic Pilgrimage
Bodega Bay and Tidal Pool, Pacific Ocean.

Watch for more monastery galleries to be uploaded as time (and internet access!) permits.

And, as always, thank you all for your prayers and support!!!