Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Most Holy Theotokos Shrine in Eklutna, Alaska
As I’ve said before I love graveyards, on my way to Anchorage there is a charming little cemetery in
Eklutna Alaska This village has been inhabited for over 800 years. In the 1840s Russian Orthodox missionaries arrived and blended their beliefs with the Athabaskan traditions. Resulting in this unique cemetery More than 100 brightly colored "spirit houses" are on the burial ground, a custom that combines Athabaskan and Russian Orthodox practices.
I stopped in for a visit the other day on the way to Anchorage and discovered my favorite little chapel Most Holy Theotokos was torn down and a new one being erected. This was a little sad because as I understand the spirit houses are left to the elements, year after year and eventually they fall apart and disintegrate into the earth symbolizing the cycle of life, from dust we came and from dust we shall return.
I entered through the open gate on the side and was approached by the monk there. He wanted $5.00 admission; well I didn’t want to give him $5.00 for a 5 minute visit so I told him I’ll be on my way. Once when I offered to paint an icon for their gift shop he looked at me and said “I’m not sure we could have one painted from a person such as you.” ???!!! INDEED!
Some day I would love to retire in Mexico and paint icons all day. I know that according to strict protocol laymen such as myself are not supposed to paint the sacred icons but still I love to try. There is a monastery on Douglas, Alaska Island. I have contemplated going there for a retreat and learning how to paint icons, fasting and praying. Alas I have my family and my responsibilities here and must stay apart of this world. Plus one small detail I'm not Orthodox.