It’s Time to Tell a Story part XI: Home
Shortly after my encounter with Fr. Herman it was suggested I go home to Lincoln for Pascha. I cannot be sure about this, but I believe that Herman himself suggested it. Perhaps he realized I was not ready for the next level of sexual violation. Perhaps he felt guilty and wanted me gone to remove the temptation. I do not know.
I remember wrestling intensely with faith at this time, much like Jacob wrestling the Angel of God. It may have been subconsciously connected with Fr. Herman, I don’t know. I do not recall actively thinking about him at the time.
When I say wrestling with my faith, I do not mean “is there a god?” or “is Orthodoxy the True faith?”. I was struggling with the deep existential question of holiness. How is one to be holy in this world? Especially now that I was going back to my hometown ; back to the world. How is one to Love God with ones whole heart, mind, strength, and will and love ones’ neighbor as oneself?
I came to the conclusion that Christian life is hard. Unbearably hard. But I loved God and wanted others to know that love withing the context of the Orthodox Church. Inspired and on fire for God, and deeply wary of the world and her wiles, I returned home to Lincoln.
Fail. Epic fail. Cigarettes, girls. porn, all of the passions that accost a fifteen year old boy came roaring back into my life. I went to public school, and got in with the grunges and the outcasts, because they where just like me: alone, misfit, hurting.
My best friend Bartlett was gone. He left for a different Orthodox monastery shortly after I went to Spruce Island. I had no one with whom to suffer. There where no teens in my church – a small non-canonical mission church – let alone a youth group.
I was in science class one day – a class that I was miserable in because my teacher taught all of this hogwash about evolution, and I was that annoying kid contesting everything – I got a call from my mother, during class. She said that I would be going up to Kodiak. I turned to the class, packed my bags, and when asked where I was going, replied “I’m going fishing.”
My parents had seen my misery and in the early spring of that year, 1999, I went back to Alaska. This time to a fully fledged school (well not really, but that’s for later) called St. Innocent’s Academy under headmaster Fr. Deacon Paisius (Robert) DeLucia. My parents had known the DeLucias for years. They were Order folk, converted to Orthodoxy like the rest of us by Fr. Herman and under the Omophorion of Bishop Pangratios Vrionis. In fact, my dad was Robert DeLucia’s house father in Chicago back in the old days of the Order. Back when DeLucia was a drug addled young drummer.
My experience at St. Innocent’s Academy would prove to be the final defining element of my Religious and Spiritual formation. I am the son born of three fathers, Fr. James Dank, Fr. Herman Podmoshensky, and Fr. Paisius DeLucia.