My other home, The Hermitage of the Three Holy Hierarchs
In 2010 I wrote to a priest to ask him if he knew of a nun I could talk to regarding a book I was researching on female sexuality. My email began,
"Dear Father, I am writing a book on the vagina..."
I assumed my contact would be met with anger or be ignored. How wrong I was. An atheist and vehemently opposed to the Catholic Church, within nine months I had converted fully and unconditionally to the Catholic faith (the full story, which is straight from God in its poetry and form, is told in my book Night's Bright Darkness).
Father Gregory had his own story. He was in exile from Ukraine where he was twice threatened-- expertly, convincingly--with death. He had no option but to leave his monastic order. He had nothing. Like many of the foreigners in Santa Marinella, he was wondering "Where now and what?"
I remember him saying to me as I crossed the street after one of our meetings: "Thank you," and I wondered what for. After all, he had saved me. But, in a certain way, that year saved us both. I discovered the meaning of existence, generally, and my own meaning. He was taken aback to find himself become a channel for sheer, uncompromising grace when perhaps he least expected it.
On 8th October 2010 Fr Gregory professed his vows as hermit of the Hermitage of the Three Holy Hierarchs; I was received into the Church in the December of the same year.
In 2014 Fr Gregory returned to his native Canada where the work of the Hermitage is flourishing through his teaching and preaching. You can read more about it, and about the hermitage coat of arms pictured at this page, at The Asketerion.
I became poet in residence of the Hermitage very early on. About to publish my third book of poetry, I felt lost, unsure of what I would write next. Very unsure of how anyone would take it. I only wanted to write about my new love, Christ. I thought that the Hermitage would provide both shelter and impetus. And it did.
When my memoir Night's Bright Darkness came out in 2016, I was nervous all over again. Again, I sheltered in the Hermitage and wrote online for the Asketerion (and the Tablet in print).
I still write for the Hermitage. We pray for the Hermitage's intentions. Spiritually we help feed each other-- cradle Byzantine Catholic, Latin rite convert. Distance is no obstacle to the Body of Christ.