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!

 

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!!!

Fragrance of the Desert, Pt. 4 – St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery, Florence AZ

New Photo Gallery posted, with unique images made at St Anthony’s in the Arizona Desert.

North American Thebaid Photographic Pilgrimage

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am very thankful to God’s providence for opening the doors for me to stay at St Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery for a few days, even though I had been unable to reach the monks to formally schedule a visit. They had room for me, and were most kind and hospitable, and Abbot Paisios gave his blessing for me to make some photographs during my stay.

This is a thriving and bustling monastery, with both men and women pilgrims. I saw whole families there, as well as a youth group, and met people from all across the US and Canada, and even from Australia.

Proceed to this special Gallery page to view the new photos, and watch for more galleries to be posted soon, as I continue my Western pilgrimage.

As a reminder, if you haven’t yet pre-ordered the North American Thebaid coffee table book (due later this Autumn), please consider doing so, as book pre-orders are our primary fundraising means to support the travel and photography.  Additional rewards are provided to supporters at a variety of levels. Thank you!

 

Fragrance of the Desert, Pt. 3 – St Paisius Monastery, in the High Desert of Arizona

This was a providential visit, and is hopefully a prelude to a longer stay on my return journey.

In my emails with Abbess Michaila, I learned the nuns were deep into their new building project, a new dining hall which would accommodate the sisterhood and their growing numbers of guests. Having a larger kitchen will greatly aid their ability to provide meals and hospitality for pilgrims.

North American Thebaid Photographic Pilgrimage
Proceed to the new gallery here…

Unfortunately, this meant I was passing through at an inconvenient time for the sisterhood, and would not be able to stay. I decided to time my travels to be at the monastery for the Divine Liturgy on Sunday, July 1. A good plan, but I didn’t count on road fatigue, so after an extended rest, I arrived shortly after Liturgy had ended, and made my way to the beautiful Gift Shop, where I was warmly greeted by two of the sisters.

I also came bearing gifts – from the brotherhood at Archangel Michael Monastery in Cañones, New Mexico, where I had been a week prior. They sent me on my way with some delightful teas for the sisters at St Paisius, and a few items for Fr Dorotheus, the Chaplain, so I was determined to faithfully make my delivery!

As it turned out, Abbess Michaila had one of the nuns give me a tour of the grounds and chapels, and gave her blessing for me to make some photos. You can see the ‘initial visit’ gallery here, as well as learn more about St Paisius and explore their website through the links provided.

Watch for more galleries coming soon! And if you haven’t yet pre-ordered the North American Thebaid book, please consider doing so! Pre-sales of the book is our primary fundraiser to keep the car (and me) fueled up, and bring this pilgrimage to a successful conclusion.

As always, thank you for your prayers and support!

Fragrance of the Desert, Pt. 2 – Archangel Michael Monastery, in the Canyons of New Mexico

New Photo Gallery now posted from Archangel Michael Monastery in Cañones NM. I almost titled this blog post ‘Streams in the Desert’, as the abundance of water flowing through the canyon is used most creatively by the monks to water their crops, vegetables, and fruit trees. You’ll see many photographs of water.

North American Thebaid Photographic Pilgrimage
Chapel in late afternoon.

Once again, as in Colorado, the instant I got out of my car upon arriving, I noticed a gentle fragrance on the breeze, which beckons and whispers to “slow down, breath, be at peace.”

North American Thebaid Photographic Pilgrimage
Life-giving water…

In the gallery you’ll not see any photos of the monks, per the direction of the Superior, Father Silouan. I deeply respect the decisions of the monastics, whether to preserve their anonymity, or to allow me to share glimpses of their life. This is their life, and I am but a pilgrim. The camera can be an invasive eye, and the internet can strip away one’s privacy and hiddenness.

North American Thebaid Photographic Pilgrimage
Streams in the desert…

So enjoy the photographic exploration of the monastery grounds, chapel, gardens, and guest house, and imagine yourself walking there and breathing the ‘fragrance of the desert’.

You would be most welcomed to contact the monks to schedule a pilgrimage.

Proceed to the gallery…