The year 1995 marks the 25th anniversary of autocephaly of the Orthodox Church in America. I would like to begin my reflection on this historic occasion by offering an insight into what is meant by autocephaly.
"Autocephaly" literally means self-headed or self-governing . The Orthodox Church in America became autocephalous in 1970, when the official proclamation, or Tomos, was approved by the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church. What began in 1794 as a remote Alaskan mission of the Russian Church was then declared to be "independent and self-governing". In 1924, the Metropolia (as it was often called at the time) had affirmed itself "temporarily self-governing" at its Council in Detroit, due to the confusion and break in communication caused by the Russian Revolution. But in 1934 the Metropolia was declared schismatic by the Russian Church for continuing this temporary autonomy in opposition to the Mother Church, and for refusing to sign a statement of loyalty to the Soviet government. The autocephaly received in 1970 healed this rupture with the Russian Church and, at the same time, preserved the independence and uniquely American mission and identity of the Orthodox Church in America.
The vision behind our autocephaly is the same today as it was in 1970 when our bishops wrote the following to the faithful of the Orthodox Church in America:
"Conscious of being a local American Church, our Metropolitanate has often and publicly stated its belief that Orthodoxy cannot develop in America except in unity and independence... Today, as the Mother Church which established the mission 175 years ago solemnly recognizes our autocephaly, a threefold task opens up for us:
- the task of uniting all Orthodox Christians of America into one Church; - the task of witnessing freely to the true Christian faith in the whole world; - the task of growing spiritually from strength to strength through the prayers of holy Father Herman of Alaska."
The above is only a very brief dealing with our autocephaly, and much more can be gained from texts dealing with the history of Orthodoxy in this land of America to which I could refer you. What I hope to share is a reminiscence and reflection on the events that led to our receiving autocephaly, its immediate aftermath and subsequent 25 years, and finally to conclude with an assessment of the vision of autocephaly today.
I became indirectly involved in the process leading to the granting of autocephaly in 1966 when, as a parish priest, I was summoned to New York to function as the Secretary for His Eminence, Metropolitan Ireney. Working with Metropolitan Ireney six days a week gave me a keen insight into the steps taken as we worked out the details of our autocephaly. As Secretary to the Metropolitan, one of my duties was the recording of the minutes for the meetings of the External Affairs Department. I remember at one meeting, with Metropolitan Nikodim of Leningrad and Father Alexander Schmemann in attendance, that Metropolitan Nikodim offered to begin negotiations concerning potential autonomy for the Metropolia. Father Alexander, whose role was pivotal in articulating the vision of our autocephaly, firmly replied, "No, we are beyond that. " By the end of the discussions, Metropolitan Nikodim agreed that the only solution for the American Orthodox Church was to seek autocephaly.
The accusation during the early 1970s that the autocephaly was rushed into, or was done behind closed doors, without notifying people, in my opinion was simply not true. There were conversations and dialogues with the other Orthodox Churches in America, especially through the active involvement of the Metropolitan in the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas, founded in l960. In fact, during the negotiations for autocephaly, SCOBA's President, His Eminence, Archbishop Iakovos, and Vice-President, His Eminence, Metropolitan Philip, were kept informed of the activity on a regular basis.
Also, it is well known that Father Alexander Schmemann was always involved with the Metropolia's representation in SCOBA. Father Alexander, being a close confidant of Metropolitan Ireney and fluent in Russian and English, acted constantly as a go-between for the Metropolitan, who rarely expressed himself in English, and Archbishop Iakovos.
Father Alexander was also held in very high esteem by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. Immediately preceding my consecration in 1967, Metropolitan Ireney, Archbishop Iakovos, Father Alexander and I were together at a Presanctified Liturgy at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral in New York City where Archbishop Iakovos, with the blessing of Metropolitan Ireney, bestowed a jeweled cross on Father Alexander -- an antique jeweled cross from Russia -- for his service to the Orthodox Church in North America.
Unfortunately, at the time SCOBA was not in a position to act substantively in behalf of the Orthodox in America. In acknowledging this, Father Alexander wrote in 1976: "This is not to belittle in any way the very real achievements of SCOBA, especially during the first decade of its existence. This is only to indicate its basic and 'built in' inability to solve or even to face Orthodoxy in America. Soon it became evident that the Mother Churches, from which the American 'national jurisdictions' derived their canonicity and on which they were totally dependent, not only were indifferent to any canonical clarification in the New World, but opposed it as a threat to their interests here."(1)
No, autocephaly did not come about secretly or all of a sudden. The attempts of the Metropolia both to normalize its ambiguous canonical status and to promote Orthodox unity on this continent were well known and quite public. During the 1960s, numerous attempts were made at rapprochement with the Mother Church, but these dialogues broke down.
When these dialogues at reconciliation with the Church of Russia failed, attempts were made to regularize the status of the Metropolia through the Ecumenical Patriarch, but these approaches were also rebuffed. In 1966, Father Schmemann went to Constantinople with a delegation where they were told by the Ecumenical Patriarch, "You are Russians, go to you Mother Church, for no one can solve your problem except the Russian Church."(2)
In the following year, 1967, Metropolitan Ireney once again tried to raise the issue of regularizing the status of the Metropolia on a visit to Constantinople and at the last moment was simply denied an audience with the Ecumenical Patriarch. The Russian churches in western Europe had the same experience when in 1965 the Patriarch of Constantinople dissolved the Russian Exarchate on the grounds that conditions in the Soviet Union were now "normal" and that Russian churches in the West should now submit to Moscow. This was a very discouraging reversal for us in the Metropolia, because for years Constantinople had supported our autonomy in the face of opposition from Moscow.
In fact, my own consecration became a source of friction between the two Patriarchates. At the conclusion of that Presanctified Liturgy in 1967, at the luncheon which followed, Metropolitan Ireney asked Archbishop Iakovos -- through Father Schmemann -- if he would participate in my consecration or, if not, at least send a representative. The Archbishop unfortunately could not attend due to a schedule conflict -- it was to be Saturday of Bright Week, the sixth of May, but sent Metropolitan Silas, who was then Bishop Silas, as his representative.
As it turned out, Bishop Silas, the representative of Archbishop Iakovos, and Bishop Mark (Lipa) of the Albanian Diocese took part in my consecration -- both bishops being under the omophorion of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. After my consecration the Russian Church wrote a violent protest to Constantinople for interfering in the internal life of the parishes belonging to the Moscow Patriarchate. Even though the Metropolia was not under the jurisdiction of the Church of Russia, the Russian Church claimed jurisdiction in North America. Our contacts with the Greek Archdiocese and the other SCOBA churches was one of the prime complaints from the Russian Church. And in June 1967 -- just one month after my consecration -- the Patriarch of Constantinople ordered Archbishop Iakovos to suspend communion with the Metropolia.
Later, of course, it was Constantinople that sent the loudest protest as rapprochement with the Mother Church, to which they had directed us, began to look unexpectedly promising. In the beginning of our discussion with the Russian Church, which began formally and in earnest in 1969, no formal comments or complaints were registered from other Churches. After all, our track record showed that previous discussion with the Russian Church had always come to an abrupt end. But in 1969, when it finally appeared that there would be concrete steps taken by the Russian Patriarchate in dealing with the problem of the Metropolia, I believe another look was taken at the "American" situation. It was at this time that Constantinople stated that it was not Moscow's place to grant American autocephaly; that an issue such as this should be on the agenda for the upcoming Great and Holy Council. At the very least, Constantinople stated that autocephaly had to be granted by the Ecumenical Patriarch because, according to Canon 28 of Chalcedon, he has jurisdiction over the land of the barbarians!
It must also be explained that, for Constantinople, the word "autocephaly" meant something imperialist and sinister; autocephaly was understood as an attempt to discredit the position of the other Orthodox jurisdictions in America. Archbishop Iakovos, in a letter to the Patriarch of Antioch, wrote that with its autocephaly the Metropolia "will seek the gradual coercion of others, or the actual subjection to them of all Orthodox churches in America when they believe possible."(3)
For Moscow, granting autocephaly had none of these implications. Autocephaly was simple the de jure recognition of the fact that its former American Diocese, established in 1794, was then, in 1970, a mature and independent Church. In other words, Moscow viewed autocephaly as an internal matter of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Nevertheless -- and this is very important -- Moscow gave up all its canonical rights over the Metropolia, and gave them to us. We were given all the rights and prerogatives of the Moscow Patriarchate. The Church of Russia had never given them up prior to the granting of autocephaly, and previously had continued to claim complete jurisdiction over North America. This claim was based on the fact that up until 1921 the Russian Church had indeed presided over one, united Orthodox Church in North America. It was in 1921 that the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese was created under Meletios (Metaxakis), the Archbishop of Athens, and later Patriarch of Constantinople. But before that time there were no separate "jurisdictions". Indeed, there were parishes and bishops to serve various ethnic groups -- including Greek parishes -- but the Church itself was formally united under the canonical authority of the Russian bishop. It was this already united Church that Saint Tikhon, in 1905, envisioned as one day being "autocephalous". However, after the Russian Revolution, two World Wars, and many waves of immigration, the situation had obviously changed. By 1970 jurisdictional pluralism was an unfortunate, but well-entrenched fact of life. Then, as now, lost unity could only be restored by an agreement between all the national churches in America. The Orthodox Church in America is indeed the canonical successor of the American Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church, but to insist on our "canonical rights" would be presumptuous and unrealistic, as well as uncharitable and unpastoral.
Let us return to the negotiations that led to the granting of autocephaly. The first meetings were held in Geneva, Switzerland, on August 24 and 25, 1969. The second meetings were held in Tokyo, Japan, on August 27 and 28, 1969.
The delegation representing the Metropolia was headed by His Eminence Archbishop Kiprian and included Fathers Joseph Pishtey, the Chancellor, Alexander Schmemann, John Meyendorff, and John Skvir. Representing the Russian Church was Metropolitan Nikodim of Leningrad, head of their External Affairs Department. Ever since 1963, when he first visited Metropolitan Leonty, Metropolitan Nikodim had been the motivating force from the Russian Church in seeking a way to normalize relations between our two Churches and to contribute to the restoration of Orthodox unity in North America. The negotiations for the most part were extremely difficult. Father Schmemann wrote that "they were sometimes painful, more than once reaching the breaking point. And I must say, in all conscience," Father Alexander continues, "that each time the discussions were salvaged by the unmistakably sincere desire of Metropolitan Nikodim not to lose this ultimate opportunity to reach an agreement between our Churches."(4) In the final stages of the negotiations, Metropolitan Nikodim was given the title of Plenipotentiary, which allowed him to enter into an agreement in the name of the Patriarch of Moscow.
Another question which arose concerning the autocephaly was the status of the Japanese Orthodox Church . After World War II, the Metropolia accepted the Japanese Church under its protection on a temporary basis. In negotiating for autocephaly it was clear that we could not continue to lay claim to another part of the Russian Church -- we did not want to appear imperialist.
Tension also existed between the Metropolia and the parishes in America under the Moscow Patriarchate. In all the negotiations, we dealt directly with the External Affairs Department of the Russian Church and not with the local representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate, who were the most opposed to the process which was taken place. They felt that if anything was to be done -- or granted -- it should be they who should be given autocephaly.
The final meeting to work out the terms of the agreement of the autocephaly took place in Syosset on March 31,1970. I was then Bishop of Alaska, but was in New York for a meeting of the Lesser Synod. I was asked to remain in New York a few extra days because of the important negotiations taking place. I remember picking up Metropolitan Nikodim at the Waldorf Astoria and escorting him to Syosset for a late evening meeting on the night of March 31. The next day was April 1, and I recall Father Schmemann being determined to have the agreement signed and dated that night, March 31. It had to be explained to both Metropolitan Ireney and Metropolitan Nikodim that signing the agreement on April Fool's Day would send the wrong signal to the American people.
The original Articles of Agreement were read by all parties and reviewed page by page. As corrections were made, they were initialed by Metropolitan Ireney and Metropolitan Nikodim. Then, each page was signed by both Metropolitans. Finally, a notary public notarized each page to show that the document was authentic. At the conclusion, we all entered our chapel of Saint Sergius and concelebrated a short Service of Thanksgiving. It was still the evening of March 31!
Metropolitan Nikodim returned with the original agreement to Russia where it was discussed by the Holy Synod of the Russian Church. We were later to find out from our own Archbishop Peter that the entire Russian episcopate had been asked to comment on the autocephaly. A telegram was sent to each bishop stating that the Russian Patriarchate and Holy Synod were requesting their comments on the granting of autocephaly to the Metropolia. Archbishop Peter was very proud, he told me, that he participated in granting autocephaly by signing the document "yes", to give the Church in America autocephaly.
Upon receiving the almost unanimous approval of the episcopate, an expanded Holy Synod was convened where the Tomos of Autocephaly, based on the agreement, was made final. It was signed on April 10, 1970 by His Holiness, Patriarch Aleksy I, of blessed memory, and all the Synod members.
At the same time, Patriarch Aleksy signed the Tomos of Autonomy for the Japanese Orthodox Church. His Grace, Bishop Vladimir, the head of the Japanese Orthodox Church, and his delegation were in Moscow for this occasion and received the Tomos from the Patriarch on April 12,1970. Bishop Vladimir was then elevated to the rank of Metropolitan. The Orthodox Church of Russia also canonized at this time Saint Nicholas, Equal to the Apostles and Archbishop of Japan. Seven days after signing the Tomos, on the Eve of Lazarus Saturday, April 17, Patriarch Aleksy I unexpectedly died. He was 93 years old.
Metropolitan Nikodim called the Chancery to inform us of the Patriarch's death and to invite a representative of the Metropolia to come and participate in the funeral. The question was, who would be the representative from the Metropolia? Metropolitan Ireney said he would not go because he had fled the Bolsheviks. The next senior bishop was Archbishop John of Chicago, but he did not want to go. They were both afraid that they would be detained, arrested on trumped up charges and not permitted to return to America. It was the final decision to send the youngest bishop, who was American born, from our oldest diocese.
So I was called in Sitka late in the day on Lazarus Saturday and informed that I would be going to Moscow for the funeral of Patriarch Aleksy I. I said that I would be happy to go and would plan to leave on Holy Monday. "No, you can't," I was told. '"The Patriarch will be buried on Holy Wednesday. You have to leave right away." I left Sitka a few hours later, flying north to Anchorage -- two time zones away -- caught the midnight flight to Seattle, which arrived about 3 o'clock Sunday morning, waited for an 8:00 a.m. flight to New York, arrived in the afternoon, then drove to Holy Protection Cathedral in New York City to seek direction from Metropolitan Ireney.
Metropolitan Ireney's instructions were quite complicated. Remember, that at this time we were not sure if the agreement had been reached by the Synod to grant our Metropolia autocephaly, or even how the agreement was received by the Russian Church. Metropolitan Ireney explained, "Make an attempt to inquire about the Tomos of Autocephaly. If you can receive the document, bring it home with you!" I spoke with Father Schmemann by telephone and he very insistently wanted me to be sure to inquire if Patriarch Aleksy I himself had signed the Tomos.. (We were not even sure of the signatories of the Tomos.) Then it was back to the airport, with no Soviet visa, where I was to fly to Moscow via London. I was delayed in London and arrived late in Moscow without a visa. At Sheremetevo Airport I had to stand alone in "no man's land" until they could arrange for my visa. Beyond the glass wall I could see the anxiously awaiting bishops and metropolitans. By the time everything was straightened out it was already Monday afternoon. That night I slept very well!
The Patriarch's funeral was moved up to Holy Tuesday, April 21, because Wednesday was the 100th Anniversary of Lenin's birth and the authorities wanted everything completed before then. Also, the other heads of Churches needed to be home for Pascha. The members of the Holy Synod served the Presanctified Liturgy Tuesday morning at the Holy Trinity-Saint Sergius Lavra at Zagorsk. At the funeral service, all the clergy served. In first place of rank were the Patriarch and heads of Churches, then the members of the permanent Holy Synod. l was placed immediately after them, before the other archbishops, bishops and priests. At this point I knew that even though autocephaly had not as yet been given, it had been signed. A number of Greek bishops murmured, but the Russian Orthodox Church was firm: "This is where the bishop from America will be placed."
Metropolitan Nikodim convinced me to stay in Leningrad for Pascha, and this gave me the opportunity to speak to him at some length about -- among other things -- autocephaly. He explained to me that it was with difficulty that the Holy Synod had worked out our autocephaly. Many prejudices and hard feelings still existed because of our unilateral claim of autonomy in 1924. In presenting the case of autocephaly for the Metropolia, Metropolitan Nikodim explained that much internal opposition had to be overcome, but once the options were put forth, autocephaly was recognized as being the wisest of choices. It was true that autocephaly did not solve all the problems, he explained, but at least it put the Church on stable footing. Personally, given the political situation of the Soviet Union at that time, I am amazed that the autocephaly was granted at all.
How the Russian Church was able to do this, how it negotiated with the Soviet Government's Council of Religious Affairs -- these are things I did not ask. At the time, the official transfer of the Tomos had not yet taken place, and I thought these questions still too sensitive to inquire about. In general, we know now that the Russian Church did undergo difficulties with the State in granting the Metropolia autocephaly. We are just thankful that they were overcome. My suspicion is that the Council of Religious Affairs was placated by the fact that there would still be Patriarchal parishes left in America. In this manner, the Russian Church still had a legitimate reason to maintain a presence and be able to send delegations to the United States. The Patriarchal presence was probably enough to satisfy those in the Soviet government who would have opposed autocephaly if it meant giving up all the parishes in America.
Upon my return from Russia, I reported that I had not been able to "get the Tomos and bring it home," as Metropolitan Ireney had directed. The Russian Church wanted a proper occasion to mark this historic event. We were very much concerned that the year of mourning that had been declared by the Russian Church commemorating the death of Patriarch Aleksy I would postpone the reception of the Tomos. However, Metropolitan Pimen was elected Locum Tenens and it would be from his hands that we would receive the final document. Of course, it had already been signed by the late Patriarch Aleksy I.
I flew back to Alaska after Pascha, on Saint Thomas Sunday. Two weeks later, on May 15, I was back in New York to lead the official delegation that would receive the Tomos in Moscow. The delegation included Fathers Daniel Hubiak, John Skvir, John Nehrebecki, and John Turkevich (son of the late Metropolitan Leonty); Stephen Kopestonsky, Managing Editor of The Orthodox Church; and Constantine Kallaur of the Department of External Affairs. The American Ambassador, Jacob Beame, and an undersecretary were also present at the presentation. The official reception took place at the Patriarch residence. After the proclamation was read by Metropolitan Pimen, and after a response from me, we all entered the chapel and celebrated a Service of Thanksgiving before the Vladimir icon of the Mother of God, to whom the chapel is dedicated.
This thanksgiving was not just one of the official formalities of the occasion. We truly looked upon autocephaly as a gift; no one had expected it. Yes, we had worked for it, but we knew from the past that there were many times during discussions with the Russian Church that we would be on the verge of a breakthrough only to see it fall apart. And now it was given. We had to accept autocephaly as a gift from God, as a responsibility. This was Father Schmemann's view in his writings, and it was also the view of most of our bishops. We accepted autocephaly as our gift from God.
After bring home the Tomos, I settled back in Alaska, where I lived a sheltered life protected from most of the Orthodox upheaval in the wake of autocephaly. My transfer to Pittsburgh did not take place until 1973.
The autocephaly of the Metropolia threw SCOBA into turmoil. The member churches did not know how to relate to us. This had a grave affect at the time on the active clergy fellowships throughout the country.
We also had to contend with accusations from the Russian Synod in Exile, who stated that we had accepted autocephaly at the hands of the Bolsheviks and in return had agreed not to criticize the Soviet government.
Father Schmemann, Father Meyendorff, Father George Benigsen, Archbishop John Shahovskoy, Archbishop Kiprian, Archbishop Sylvester -- all spent a tremendous amount of time through writings and speaking engagements in an attempt to raise the awareness of what autocephaly was and the effect it would have on the Metropolia.
Today, the issues raised by autocephaly continue to be a thorn in the flesh for many, but the passion of the first years has died down. While there is much talk of unity, there still exists a justification of the status quo under a veil of spiritualizing language. It is not unusual to hear it said that "we are already one in faith and spirit; we don't need unity in administration." Of course, it's not just a question of unity in administration. The most important thing is to be unified in the content of vision for the Church in North America. If there were some vision, if there were some idea of bringing unity out of this chaos, that would be a start. But unfortunately, the guiding vision is often the ethnic diocese. In other words, "you do your thing, I'll do mine, and we'll meet together once a year on the Sunday of Orthodoxy." This attitude is what motivated the hierarchs of SCOBA to gather in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, at the end of November and beginning of December, 1994, to discuss a common vision of the Church's mission in our land. We felt something had to be done to break this impasse.
What we must comprehend as we continue discussion on Orthodox unity is that unity does not find its foundation in uniformity. It does not have a footing in common language. It does not know a common cultural expression. The diversification of our language and our culture can be an expression of the unity of our common faith. Our unity is made complete in the Gospel message of salvation. Probably the greatest temptation of our autocephaly has been to abandon too quickly, or to deny altogether, the living cultural expression of our faith in America.
In all humility, we need to say that God has given the Orthodox Church in America a unique opportunity among Orthodox Churches at this time in history to be a witness to the Gospel message and the truth of Jesus Christ. We are able to be witnesses to the conciliar nature of the Church: many members, gathered together in one body under the headship of Christ, worshiping the Father in the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Conciliarity is given practical expression in the day-to-day life of the Church on every level.
Yes, autocephaly is a God-given gift with which we have been entrusted. It is in fact a direct development of the All-Russian Council of 1917-1918, over which Saint Tikhon himself presided, which restored conciliarity to the life of the Church. What we do with this gift, how we make it live, and how it grows and develops is our responsibility.
And yes, there will always be stumbling blocks to realizing our autocephaly, but these are given to us to make us more aware that we have been truly blessed by God.
Each of us has the responsibility of fulfilling, enhancing and developing what has been given to us. All of us in the Orthodox Church in America are going to be asked by God, "What did you do with what I gave you?" Are we going to say, "Well, they criticized us, they did this, they did that...." No, we have to be the Church, for the Lord says to us in autocephaly that we must have the conviction, the vision and the commitment that this is God's work -- that this is God's will. And each of us must accept the responsibility of being the Orthodox Church in America. With God's help we will carry our Church forward, so that the generations who come after us will build on the foundation that was given to us -- by Saint Tikhon, whose multiethnic Church was nevertheless a united Orthodox Church; by Saint Innocent, who brought the Gospel to Alaska in the languages of the people; by Metropolitan Leonty, who presided in hope over a Church in disarray, without ever losing sight of conciliarity and the mission to America. These great hierarchs have laid the foundation, which is Christ. We are building upon it. Sometimes the work gets derailed, but we go back again each time to that foundation. Sometimes growth is slow, but who are we to say the life of the Church is too slow or too fast?
The Moscow Patriarchate marked its 400th Anniversary in 1989. And, incidentally, it took the Russian Church almost 150 years to have their autocephaly accepted by the Ecumenical Patriarch! But this did not stop them from building churches, opening seminaries, convents and monasteries, leading the life in Christ -- baptizing, teaching, confessing, celebrating the Liturgy, praying and serving.
Right now we need to focus, not on the success of autocephaly, whether it's recognized or not, but to concentrate instead on being faithful. This is what is necessary for salvation. Do we accept our calling to be witnesses and disciples? Is it our mission to baptize the person around the corner, to bring that person to Christ and the Church? Is the community in which we gather a faith community, a gathering of the People of God, a living organism that builds itself up in love? Or is the Church only for "our" group and those few who stumble across it? We often are too satisfied when our Church membership increases by a few converts. But what about the millions who are not being reached and who do not know where to look? Are we truly being faithful to our calling? These are the questions we need to ask.
Judging our progress is always risky business, but the fact is that over the last forty years there has been remarkable change in our Church. Those who have been in the Church for a long time can attest to that. Consider our All-American Councils, for example. I remember my first Council as a young seminarian in 1957. Believe me -- there is movement, there is awareness, there is growth! On the other hand, we can't be discouraged by the long journey we see ahead of us, or how slow at times the pace of progress sometimes feels.
Finally, lest we think that autocephaly is an accomplishment of the past more than a promise for the future, I would like to close with this short passage from Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening":
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here,
To watch his wood fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
(1) Orthodox America: 1794-1976. Orthodox Church in America, Syosset, NY, 1976), p. 262.
(2) Ibid., p. 263.
(3) (Surrency), Archimandrite Seraphim, The Quest for Orthodox Church Unity in America, New York, NY, 1973, p. A154.
(4) Orthodox America, p. 264.
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