Almost 25 years ago I used to work in Korea as a professor in Pusan University, and before returning to Russia in late 1993 my husband and I visited the Monastery of the Transfiguration. I would never have thought then that after so many years I will once again come here.

Though, on the invitation of His Eminence Metropolitan Sotirios of Pisidia I again visited the monastery in April of this year. The next day I felt as if I’ve ben here all this time. I felt being at home, and this home was getting ready for the holiday – for the upcoming days of Holly Easter.

First, a Korean parish group from Incheon arrived at the monastery, and I was amazed at how smoothly, easily and joyfully, the women cleaned the whole building of the monastery.

Sunday morning (April 17th) another big group of believers from Seoul visited the Monastery. There were people who came to live and work in Korea from Russia, Georgia, Ukraine, Bulgaria and other Orthodox countries. After the Liturgy, a “subbotnik” began. Despite the Soviet-time connotations of this word, it has a great idea of people working freely together for the common good. How much has been done!

Together we cleaned the territory from the last year’s tree leaves and branches, cleaned the steps leading to the memorial cross, planted new bushes and plants, made flower beds, created a rosary. The youngsters did their best: they were the first to pick up rakes, they planted flowers, laid stones of the walkways and swept the stairs.

Several times the bell was calling for lunch, which also had been prepared by the parishioners, but it was too hard to stop working. Everybody wanted to do even better, to make the monastery even more beautiful. After a delicious lunch with a Russian borsht soup and freshly baked bread, the participants sang songs. The favorite Russian song “Nadezhda” – was about Hope and Home.

I don't know, how often all these people meet each other and how close they are as friends. What struck me the most, was an amazing atmosphere of unity and togetherness, of mutual understanding and joyful creation. It was a true celebration of work: both physical and spiritual.

Sometimes a monastery might be perceived as a place for solitude and a strict monastic life. This weekend the place was breathing with a homey feelings and hospitality. The monastery revealed itself as a house of a joint pray, a house of memories about the Homeland. It’s been the house of hopes and aspirations, faith and transformation. This is a house where one can always come Home and feel the warmth and love. I am so happy that I’ve come back again!

Thank God! Thank E. Metropolitans Sotirios of Pisidia and Ambrosios of Korea, thank Sister Agathi, thanks to all.

Irina Pshenichnikova,
Professor, St.Petersburg State University.


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