Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Skateboarding Monk

Will Tony Hawk be a reclusive monk one day?
A priest friend of mine recently made a pastoral visit to a church in Alaska. After some time, in a frigid and remote town, he made his way to the town market where people had set up dozens of booths to sell food, furniture, trinkets, and whatever else people sell in public places. The priest happened upon a booth run by a pair of Orthodox monks, who were selling icons, books by the Church Fathers, and other holy items.
One of the monks, let us call him Fr. A (I will get his real name eventually), told my friend how this monastery is a community of ten monks, all in their 20s or 30s, who dig small caves in the ground, much like the Egyptian hermits, and live private lives of prayer in there, but gather in common to pray the Office and Divine Liturgy daily as well. Midway through this conversation a hipster approached Fr. A with a skateboard and asked him to show some tricks on the half-pipe in the nearby skatepark. Fr. A sheepishly declined, but a few people in the vicinity cajoled Fr. A into accepting the hipster's board.
At this point everyone in the market dropped what they were doing and followed Fr. A into the skatepark, ready and willing to watch a monk, in a cassock made to resist the Alaskan weather, attempt some tricks. Fr. A descends from the top of one end of the half-pipe, coming up to the other and doing a 180. He descends again, comes up the other side and does a 360. He descends again, comes up the other side yet again and this time does a somersault, landing on the board and returning safely to the ground. The Alaskans go wild.
My priest, stupefied, asked Fr. A what "that was all about." Fr. A quietly said "1994 California state champion. At the monastery we are all either former-California sakteboarders or beach-bums." My priest replied, "You must have a pretty sinful past." Fr. A retorted, "Don't most monks?"


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