Well, there’s a first time for everything – last week, I visited St Laurence Monastery, a Western Rite Orthodox Monastery about two hours away from Protection Monastery. The drive was absolutely stunning! The Rockies are so shamelessly beautiful, especially at sun-set: typical teenagers (which is precisely what they are, compared to Scotland’s Hebridean Heights, some of the world’s oldest mountains), boasting with pride and beauty. I’ve seen herds of elk, hundreds and hundreds of deer, even wild turkeys (I confess I didn’t spend much time near them, as Mother Cassiana told me that mountain lions follow the turkey; I don’t know if that’s true, but I’d rather not find out!).
The Monastery itself is in a wonderful location, right in the centre of a small canyon and surrounded by mountains. They have a splendid wooden cabin (I absolutely loved it), and a large (newer) building for the church and additional accommodation. The fathers were very hospitable, we had a good dinner and a nice walk along the creek. Before we left, we went in the church for Vespers and a tour of the building.
Vespers felt very familiar to me, despite being celebrated according to the Western rite. It reminded me of the beautiful four months I spent last year at the Community of the Resurrection in Mirfield, England, while serving as the parish priest for the Romanian Orthodox Church in Leeds.
I attach some photos, although they really don’t do justice to the wild beauty of the place.