I want to take a few minutes to talk about our wonderful Archbishop Dmitri.
He is nearing his 90th birthday, so his health isn’t what it used to be. Parishioners from St. Seraphim’s have been rotating shifts 24/7 at his bedside for the past few weeks. Our friend, Fr. James, has watched over him throughout the night more than once. He told us two stories from his time that I think are just amazing. I think that they show just how saint-like this man actually is.
The first: In the middle of night, Fr. James awoke from his chair to hear Vladika murmuring in his sleep. When he got closer, he could hear what was being spoken– names of St. Seraphim’s parishioners. The man wasn’t even awake, he was praying for others. In his sleep. He’s gotten to the place where he prays so often, his heart takes over and continues, even after his mind is at rest.
The second: On another night, Fr. James was sitting there, trying to stay awake. Across the room, Vladika had been asleep for quite some time. Fr. James looked around the room, his eyes resting on the icon of the Mary the Theotokos on the wall above them. All of a sudden, without stirring or sitting up, Vladika said, “She’s watching over us, you know.” Then, silence. Fr. James wasn’t even sure that Vladika even opened his eyes or saw what he was looking at. He just knew.
That’s the saint-like side of him. But he has his human, lovable side too.
Case in point, another story we heard was about the “technique” one of his Russian caretakers uses to get him to drink more water and juice. It goes like this:
The deacon grabs a shotglass full of Vodka from the side of the bed. “Vladika. Drink this. It’s good for you. Doctor’s orders.
Vladika: “Noooo. Are you kidding?”
“No, drink this. You need to. It will make you better.”
“Fine. Then drink this grape juice.”
“Do I have to?”
“Those are your choices. Vodka or Grape Juice. Doctor’s orders.”
“Fine. I’ll take the grape juice…”
………..10 minutes later…………..
“Vladika, drink this vodka. Doctor’s orders!”
Also, at another time, one of the deacon’s wives was pestering him to eat more soup. He hasn’t been eating enough lately (one of the reasons for his medical difficulties), so everyone’s been trying to get him to eat more.
As she continued to try and try to get him to take a bite, (unsuccessfully) he suddenly burst out, “Good God, woman! Make it stop!”
We love our beloved Archbishop. Please pray for him. Pray that his health improves. It’s not that he’s afraid to go– he’s made it clear that he is worshipping and communing with his Savior already, whilst here on earth. In other words, heaven will just be a continuation of what he’s already experiencing. But pray for good health for the sake of our parish, because we love him so dearly.