Hammi: The Norwegian Forest Cat – Our pets are gifts from God – Abbot Tryphon, Vashon Island, WA, USA




Hammi: The Norwegian Forest Cat

Our pets are gifts from God






Every evening I try to spend an hour or so in the library, sitting in front of the fire place. Our beloved Norwegian Forest Cat, Hammi, sleeps in the library/community room every night. Hammi is most happy when the entire monastic brotherhood is gathered together with him. He’s an important member of our community, loved by all of us, and is the only cat I know who has his own facebook fan page, started by a woman who’d met him on a pilgrimage to the monastery (if my memory be correct).

I first met Hammi, a large male cat, as I was walking between our old trailer house (now gone) and my cell, some seventeen years ago. We startled one another, but as I reached down with extended hand, he came to me. When I picked him up he began purring immediately, so I opened a can of salmon, and he never left. A month after his arrival we took him to a vet to be checked out. It was the veterinarian who suggested he’d most likely been dumped by someone from Seattle, as happens frequently when people want to dispose of a pet, and make sure the animal can’t find it’s way back home (impossible from an island).

I often tell people that Hammi domesticated me, since I’d not previously been a cat fancier, being allergic to cat dander. Little did I know at the beginning that Norwegian Forest Cats do not have dander. They have a very soft double fur coat, large paws, sweet facial features and a very loud purr box. They are known to be personable, liking to be around people. He greets everyone who comes to the monastery, escorting them up the steps from the parking lot. Everyone who’s ever met Hammi, falls in love. I’ve lost count of the number of people who’ve stated they don’t like cats, but want to get a Norwegian Forest Cat for themselves, once they’ve met him.

Intelligent breed that they are, Hammi has learned to let us know just what he wants, be it water, food, cuddling, sleep, whatever. He is a great companion to all of us, even going into the forest when one of us takes a walk on the Valaam Trail. He has a special game which he seems to enjoy with me, particularly. I’ll head out on the trail with Hammi running ahead. He’ll hide behind a large fern, and even though I know he’s waiting ahead, he always manages to scare me. I’ll then run ahead and hide behind a tree and jump out when he walks by. We play this game until the end of the trail!

At the ripe old age of twenty, Hammi is slowing down a bit, just as am I. We both suffer from arthritis and like to sit by the fire on a cold winter evening, with him cuddling in the lap of the old abbot. I’ve grown so attached to him that I can’t even begin to think of what life in the monastery will be like after he’s gone.

Animals teach us so much about life, and about unconditional love. I’ll never forget the day Hammi spotted our newly arrived Rhode Island Reds for the first time. I was sitting on the veranda of the trapeza with some guests. Hammi sat up when he spotted the hens, and started walking toward the Saint John Chapel. I followed him, as did our guests. When we were standing by the hens, Hammi crouched down, ready for the kill. All that was needed was for me to say, “No, Hammi, they are our friends”. He turned away and walked back to the veranda, leaving me and the guests alone with the chickens. He’s never bothered them since.

Although I’d grown up with dogs and cats, they’d not been in my life throughout my adulthood, until Hammi came around. I’m so very glad he did.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon



Washington, USA






Hami the cat










Where is God when bad things happen? – Abbot Tryphon, Vashon Island, WA, USA



Where is God when bad things happen?


Abbot Tryphon All-Merciful Saviour Monastery

on Vashon Island, Washington, USA

We often wonder why God allows bad things to happen, sometimes even questioning if God cares at all about the evil things that happen to good people. Yet we forget that our God created us in such a way that we can freely return His love for us, and that in this freedom, we can even love others. We have all been given the freedom to do what we want, and to live our lives the way we please. The Lord lets us do drugs. He lets us be disrespectful to our parents, or cruel to those we decide are beneath us. He lets us avoid paying our taxes, or commit fraud for our own gain. God lets us avoid going to the services in our temples, while allowing us to choose partying with our friends on a Saturday night, over communing with our Creator God.

Our God allows us to spend all our time pursuing entertainment, and mindlessly focusing on social networking, to the exclusion of communing with Him. He lets us speed and cross the centerline into oncoming traffic, and although He doesn’t like it when we do, He refrains from forcing Himself on us. He lets us make bad decisions, but is sad because He knows what will come of it.

Our God, Who is ever loving, caring, and compassionate, watches over each and every one of us. God even has hopes and plans for us just like our families do. But just like our earthly parents, He allows us to make our own choices on what we want to do, and, like our friends and families, is saddened when we make bad choices. Bad things happen, not because God doesn’t care, but because, in our free will, we, His creatures, make bad things happen by choosing to do what we want, regardless of the consequences.

Finally, we live in a fallen world. This is not God’s doing, but our own. God did not create evil, we did, and the end result was that death entered our world. Christ came to destroy the power of death by His own death, and holy resurrection.

Love and blessings,

Abbot Tryphon






Ο Γέροντας Τρύφων της Νήσου Vashon της Washington σώζει έναν Αμερικάνό που ήθελε να αυτοκτονήσει σε ένα δάσος του Oregon των ΗΠΑ



Ο Γέροντας Τρύφων της Νήσου Vashon της Washington σώζει έναν Αμερικάνό που ήθελε να αυτοκτονήσει σε ένα δάσος του Oregon των ΗΠΑ

Αναφέρει ο Γέροντας Τρύφωνας ο ηγούμενος της Μονής του Σωτήρος Χριστού της Νήσου Vashon στην Washington των ΗΠΑ:

«Πρίν ἀπό πολλά χρόνια, πῆρα ἕνα μονοπάτι πού προχωροῦσε βαθιά σ᾽ ἕνα δάσος τοῦ Oregon, ὅταν εἶδα ξαφνικά μπροστά μου ἕνα νεαρό καθισμένο πάνω σ᾽ ἕνα κούτσουρο. Ἡ ἀφετερία τοῦ μονοπατιοῦ ἀπεῖχε κάπου τέσσερα μίλια ἀπ᾽ τό σημεῖο καί μοῦ φάνηκε πολύ παράξενο πού βρῆκα αὐτόν τόν ἄνθρωπο, μόνο, τόσο βαθιά μεσ᾽ στό δάσος. Ἦταν τόσο βυθισμένος στίς σκέψεις του, πού αἰσθάνθηκα τήν ἀνάγκη νά τοῦ ζητήσω νά μέ συγχωρήση πού τόν ξάφνιασα. Κάτι εἶπα γιά τήν ὀμορφιά τῆς θείας δημιουργίας καί τόν ρώτησα ἄν ἤθελε νά μοιραστοῦμε τό κολατσιό καί τόν καφέ μου. Κάθισα στό κούτσουρο δίπλα του, ἄνοιξα τό σακίδιό μου καί τοῦ ἔδωσα τό μισό ἀπ᾽ τό φαγητό μου. Μετά ἀπό λίγο, στράφηκε πρός τό μέρος μου, μοῦ ἔδειξε ἕνα περίστροφο καί μοῦ εἶπε ὅτι εἶχε ἔρθει στό ἀπομακρυσμένο αὐτό σημεῖο γιά νά αὐτοκτονήση. Μάλιστα ὅταν ἐμφανίσθηκα μέ τή μακρυά γενειάδα μου, τά μακρυά μαλλιά καί τό μαῦρο ράσο μου, νόμιζε ὅτι ἤμουν ἕνας ἄγγελος σταλμένος ἀπ᾽ τό Θεό· προσευχόταν λέει νά τόν συγχωρήση ὁ Θεός γι᾽ αὐτό πού ἑτοιμαζόταν νά κάνη. Τόν διαβεβαίωσα ὅτι εἶχα σάρκα καί ὀστά καί ὅτι δέν ἤμουν ἄγγελος. Πρόστεσα, ὅμως, ὅτι μέ ἔστελνε ὁ Θεός μέ ἕνα μήνυμα γι᾽ αὐτόν. Τό μήνυμα ἔλεγε ὅτι ἦταν πολύ ἀγαπητός στό Θεό καί ὅτι ἡ περίοδος αὐτή τῆς ἀπελπισίας γρήγορα θά περνοῦσε. Μοῦ ἔδωσε τό περίστροφό του, τό ὁποῖο ἔβαλα στό σακίδιό μου, καί κουβεντιάσαμε πολλή ὥρα γιά τή ζωή του. Γιά πολλά χρόνια ἀναρωτιόμουν ποιά κατεύθυνσι ἄραγε νά πῆρε ὁ ἄνθρωπος αὐτός μετά ἀπ᾽ τή συνάντησί μας στό δάσος. Ἀναρωτιόμουν ἀκόμη τί θά εἶχε συμβεῖ ἄν συνέχιζα τήν πεζοπορία μου χωρίς νά σταθῶ νά τόν χαιρετίσω, χωρίς νά τοῦ προσφέρω ἕνα χαμόγελο καί μισό σάντουϊτς. Κάθε φορά πού παραμερίζουμε τόν ἑαυτό μας καί βάζουμε μπροστά τό Χριστό, γινόμασθε δικοί Του ἀγγελιοφόροι».