So, I saw Susan today at the Limnes picnic, and realized that I've been putting off for much too long the story I teased about with Christina that I was going to tell her sometime. I said then that I'd tell her in person, because I didn't want to put it in a blog, but I think I can make it so that no one's privacy is violated too much, and besides, it's a good story!
This is a story about when we lived at St. Nicholas Ranch and Retreat Center in central California. It was a retreat center/camp, and next to it was the Monastery of the Life-Giving Springs. We had a very small little community there. At the end of our road was the retreat center and across from it, the (then) future site of the monastery. Before you got to that, there were two houses, ours and the house where Mike and Elizabeth Tervo (now Fr. Mike who serves as second priest in Oakland) lived. Before that, the house that was the old convent for the nuns, where they were living at the time. Across from them, there was a non-Orthodox family, and right beside them lived the H family, J and C with a lot of small children. Now, the H family had moved there kind of recently, and J still held a job about a 3 1/2 hour drive away, so he stayed down there half the week and worked from home the rest of the week. So he was gone a lot and C played single mother during those times.
Because it was such a small community, Paul was able to play things kind of spontaneously; he didn't have to set a schedule for weeks in advance for the liturgical cycle, he could pretty much just let everyone know the night before when services would be. But one night he remembered that Gerontissa (the abbess) had asked him to hold liturgy the next morning and he'd told her "maybe" but now he knew he just couldn't because he was too busy that day. We looked at the clock; it was around 9:30. We knew it was too late to call the nuns, because they went to bed early and rose at around 2 am. (No, it's not a typo...) But Paul was concerned for the H family, because they would usually come for the very early services (6 am I think) and bring all their children. He didn't want them to drag the kids out of bed and there not be services. So I suggested that he just go to their house and see if there were lights on. If there were, he could tap lightly so as not to wake the children. Then he could let them know that there would be no service the next day.
So, he went down there and came home saying that there were indeed lights on, and he'd tapped, but no one answered. Oh, well, I guess I can't warn them tonight. We thought that wast he end of it.
A short while later the telephone rang. It was Gerontissa. "Please come quickly, Fr. Paul! There is a man outside of C's house, and he is going to violate her!"
It took a half a moment for the whole scenario to register to Paul....he was that man!
He went down there and all the nuns were outside, most of them wearing their nightgowns! He very delicately explained what had happened, and of course, everyone was relieved. I think it did help J and C to realize that they really needed to figure out a different arrangement for the job situation, because poor C was scared out of her mind being all alone way out in the middle of nowhere with all those small children.
I've got other stories about living there....lots, in fact. One funny was right after we'd seen a calendar called Nuns Having Fun, showing nuns roller skating and such. We were heading down to the ranch, and we saw the nuns in the field where they'd recently planted some orange trees. The trees weren't doing very well. So, over each orange tree, the nuns were putting up umbrellas. :-) We just stopped and enjoyed the sight for a minute, then headed on down the road.