July 1, Saturday - Moscow/Sergiev Posad/Moscow

Sergiev Posad is a monastary and seminary for the Russian Orthodox Church. It is also one of three (I think) "Lavra"s in Russia - some sort of extra-holy place. It was called "Zagorsk" by the Communists, so some maps will show that name.

This was interesting. The previous day, I had walked around a few blocks near the hotel, and happened to walk past Sts. Cosmos and Damian without realizing more than the fact that it was a church. When the time came to go, I was going to simply walk up there, since it was a whole 5 minutes' walk from the hotel, and I didn't see how we could load the busses, drive straight there, and unload the busses much faster than that. Olga, our strictest guide (should I indicate the speculation about who actually paid her here?) "No, no, you will be late", so I got on the bus. Imagine my annoyance when the busses went straight down Tverskaya, *away* from the church, *towards* the Kremlin and drove all the way *around* the Kremlin and some other neighborhoods.

When we got there, it turned out that they were somewhere in the middle of their service, so we had to stand (there are no seats or pews in Russian Orthodox churches, or at least we never saw any for mere mortals). It turned out that we had to stand for at least half an hour while waiting for the service (over an hour - probably more like two) to finish anyway. Fortunately for me, Peter Mikuliak took pity on me and every now and then explained to me what was going on, as it was all in Russian, and I am not at all familiar with the Orthodox order of service even in English.

One of Peter's comments to me was that it was a shame that we hadn't been properly prepared for the service, so we couldn't appreciate what was happening. He offered to explain it to me, and I took him up on his offer. I also got his permission to invite whoever wanted to come sit in on the discussion, so there were about 6 of us talking in the hotel atrium for about an hour - 10:30 to 11:30 PM or so. Peter is a wonderful speaker - he started out by explaining about the service in order, and didn't mind taking detours to whatever points about Orthodox theology seemed natural at the moment. Eventually, he'd realize that we had detoured too far from the service, and would pop back to the next item of interest in the service, and the process started again. It wouldn't have made a great lecture, but as a way to get the feel for his view of Orthodox theology, it was great.

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