Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Russian Orthodox America: Ninilchik

Previous post: Russian Orthodox America - Kenai

Perhaps you recall about a year ago I found a picture in the New York Times of a church in Alaska that immediately went on my “must see” list.

Usually those “must see” places end up being impossible to actually reach, disappointingly banal, or crassly commercial. Could being there really be like being in that picture?

Orthodox Avenue (a grand name for a small gravel road), leads into a wide, rather barren and windswept landscape. The Russian Orthodox Church of the Holy Transfiguration of Our Lord sits alone along the road high above Cook Inlet. With its overgrown cemetery and isolated location, it is an achingly beautiful place, one both serene and melancholy.

Slipping through a side gate, I carefully follow the footpaths that wind through the cemetery, I look for the names on the graves and wonder about the people buried here. . . What were their lives like? What did they hope for? Were they happy here? Does anyone still think of them now or have they been forgotten here in this lonely place at the edge of the world.

It seems an appropriate spot to wait out eternity. I don’t think I’d mind joining them here someday.

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