"Along the narrow path we began to ascend into the thicket of forest to Elder Herman’s place of eternal rest, to his grave. The area is hilly. The spruce forest is a thick forest. Quiet, sunny weather. Tall, hundred-year-old spruce trees, the only witnesses of the Elder’s solitary ascetic labors. The singing of the feathered dwellers of the desert involuntarily bore one away to thoughts of those bygone years when Elder Herman lived here. And so it seemed that at any moment the figure of the Elder might appear from the thicket—his meek face—and he would give us a word of consolation. One is reminded, by the similitude of the surroundings, and of the very faces, of another wondrous Elder, St. Seraphim of Sarov. He was actually Fr. Herman’s contemporary! The latter greatly venerated the Sarov Elder and had his portrait in his cell.” --Archimandrite Gerasim, 1935
Father Gerasim, the desert-dweller chosen by St. Herman of Alaska to revive his monastic “heavenly abode,” left an abundance of letters, which serve as a testament of his solitary life on New Valaam—Spruce Island, Alaska. These letters remain now as a document—almost as a chronicle of the severe ascetic life of a desert-dweller in modern America.…
“…Yes, I love my quiet hermitage and leave it with bitter tears, rejoicing when I return to it; and solemnly, with tender feeling. I kiss the holiness there. All of these years I have never tired of being there, although I do not see people for weeks, even months. I was never sad even during the winter months, there in the snow-covered hermitage.” --Archimandrite Gerasim, 1964
These letters bear witness to Fr. Gerasim’s uncompromising stand for Truth before an apostate world. For thirty years he kept solitary vigil before the relics of St. Herman, receiving divine strength to endure to the end, and passing on his precious spiritual inheritance from Holy Russia. His words reveal that he knew God through a life of struggle and prayer, of constantly “standing before God.” It is this living Christianity that ignites the hearts of the searching people of our day and sheds the light of Christ into the darkness of this world.
Author: Fr Gerasim Schmaltz