Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Incorporating Orthodoxy into hobbies

My very Roman Catholic friend and I brew beer together. We have toyed with many recipes in the past, and we're presently in secondary fermentation on batch 26 and 27.

One of things we decided to do was incorporate our shared Christian faith into our brewing. Our brewery became Seven Councils Brewing Company, and our beers are all named after Saints. We have brewed beers named after St. John Chrysostom, St. Columba, St. Moses the Black, St. Christopher, and our newest beer, St. John the Dwarf.

Quite by accident, in the choosing of these names, I've learned more about these saints and their amazing witness. In particular, the story of St. John the Dwarf, a desert father of Lower Egypt, deeply affected me.

From The Prologue:

"John is numbered among the greatest of the Egyptian ascetics. "Colobos" means 'small one' [dwarf] for he was of short stature. Together with his brother Daniel, he came to the Scete and with the greatest of zeal devoted himself to such asceticism that his brother Daniel had to urge him to moderation. John was a disciple of St. Pambo and later, the teacher of St. Arsenius the Great. His co-disciple with St. Pambo was St. Paisius the Great. Once, when he and Paisius conversed about what kind of asceticism to undertake, an angel of God appeared to them and ordered John to stay where he was to instruct others and Paisius to enter the wilderness and live as a hermit. In order to test John's obedience, St. Pambo ordered him to water a dry stick embedded in the ground until it turned green. Without hesitation and doubt, John watered this dry wood for three whole years, day in and day out until, indeed, by the power of God that wood became green and brought forth fruit. Pambo then gathered the fruit from this tree, brought it to church and distributed it among the brethren saying: "Draw near and taste of the fruit of obedience!" John Colobos had many disciples. Some of his wise sayings have been preserved. He entered into rest peacefully and took up habitation in the joy of his Lord."

The most important thing I saw in this story was not the miracle, but the actual fruit of the miracle. I immediately recalled the story of Jonah, which we hear every Holy Saturday as part of the Old Testament readings. In the story of Jonah, God calls forth a calabash to provide shade for Jonah, and then causes a worm to wither the plant, kindling Jonah's wrath for the loss of the shade. God explains to Jonah that Jonah was aggrieved for the loss of the plant, which he had no part in its creation and growth, but God's mercy for Nineveh is a sign of God's mercy for the whole world, which God made.

St. John in obedience (contrary to Jonah) waters a dead piece of wood for three years that it would bear fruit, and the fruit is shared with the brethren of the monastery.

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