I recently discovered this on a friend’s Facebook page and thought it worth sharing. This took place at Holy Resurrection church in Claremont, NH:
“Sometime ago, we invited a local “tree surgeon”, Leo M., to cut down a couple of dead trees in the back of the church property. He came and worked with his wife, Kathleen, doing the job quickly and with kindness to the rest of the surroundings. But they strongly resisted being paid, insisting on offering their work gratis to our church. The reason for it was the following story that happened to them a few years before, just after they had gotten married.
They both were big enthusiasts of serious mountaineering and rock climbing, and therefore for their honeymoon trip they decided to go to Alaska, to bag the highest peak of North America, mount Denali (aka McKinley), 20,320 feet. They prepared their expedition very thoroughly, staying in the camp at the foot of the mountain, talking to guides, studying the maps, checking the equipment, and waiting for a long stretch of good weather.
Everything went just fine for a few days of their exciting, but extremely difficult ascent. At the end of one day, on a narrow path, they met an old, strange looking man in a long robe, who was walking down the mountain. In a friendly manner he greeted them and advised them to turn around and return to the base camp as quickly as possible because the weather was changing into a bad storm. Soon, he said, it will be very dangerous around here. And in answer to their unasked question, how could he know such a thing, he told them that he is local and knows the climate very well. Leaving them surprised and uneasy, he continued on his way.
A few minutes later, when Leo and his wife made a wise decision to turn back and tried to recall the appearance of the old man, they realized that he hadn’t had a back pack or any other hiking gear with him. How could he have made it up so high in the bare rocky mountain in sub-zero temperatures and without any food or protection?!
Anyway, to make a short story shorter, a few days later, almost at the bottom of the mountain, they were indeed caught by a severe storm. They survived it, constantly in their minds thanking the old man who had warned them of the danger. A week later, still staying at the base camp, they were told that some other climbers, who were at the higher elevations than they during the storm, never came back.
But the focal point of the story is this: at the camp cafeteria they noticed a picture of their rescuer, pinned on a bulletin board between all kinds of papers and photos of the mountain. They recognized him from the first, at a glance. When they asked the waiter about his name, he told them, ” It’s St Herman of Alaska.” The photo was of the icon of St Herman from the Orthodox church nearby.
The Saint told them the truth: he was indeed a local guy…”
“By enduring the trials of nature, the storms’ cold and wind together with hunger, thou didst kindle spiritual peace, warmth and satiety, and become unaffected by the elements, truly a heavenly man and earthly angel, O wondrous Herman; so wishing to honor thee as is meet we cry out: Rejoice, conqueror of nature’s hardships! Rejoice, thou who wast arrayed in the virtues! … Rejoice, O venerable Father Herman, adornment of Alaska and joy of all America! ” (From Akathist to St Herman)