I have had encounters with Father Seraphim on two occasions, now, at the Barnes and Noble in Evantson.
My first encounter was entirely by “accident.” It was 30 May last year, and I had gone to see the movie “X2: X-men United” in the early afternoon. After the movie I had had about an hour to kill till Anna left work to pick me up. I had originally decided to just cross the street and head into Borders for some coffee and to do some reading. For some reason, however, I thought I’d head to the library. But while on the way, I decided it would be too far to walk to the library and back, so Barnes and Noble happened to be on the way and I ended up stopping there and browsing. I had no desire to buy any books, nor did I even have any books in mind that I was really wanting to get. But as it happened, while browsing in the Christian section I happened upon the out of print original edition of Father Seraphim Rose’s biography, Not of This World. I was stopped in my tracks.
I should at this point tell how St. Benedict came to be my patron. While I was still in Bible college, and only just beginning my journey to historic Christianity, I happened to be on a short trip to one of our sister colleges and seminaries in Lincoln, Illinois. I’d already done some reading about St. Benedict through my then-new interest in monasticism, and had read some snippets from St. Benedict’s Rule. While in the college bookstore–a conservative evangelical bookstore, mind you–I happened to notice a copy of the Rule. I bought it without a second thought. It was, at the very least, a serendipitous moment. And although I then had no concept of what a patron saint was, I began to have an affinity of sorts with St. Benedict, his rule, and monasticism.
So, there I was last year in Barnes and Noble having an almost identical encounter, some thirteen years later. Although I had not yet considered Father Seraphim Rose my patron saint–that spot had long been held by St. Benedict–this “chance” encounter was so similar to how St. Benedict “found” me, that I took it as an indication another saint had “picked” me.
Needless to say, I purchased the book and soon thereafter began asking for the intercessions of Father Seraphim along with St. Benedict. The more I learned about Father Seraphim, the more convinced I became of his sanctity.
So, the new biography came out in the fall, and I purchased it. Shortly thereafter, I acquired Nihilism and Genesis, Creation, and Early Man, and of course I had several months before read other of Father Seraphim’s writings. Then I picked up a copy of Letters from Father Seraphim. The only remaining book that I had thought I wanted to get was Cathy Scott’s biography, Seraphim Rose: The True Story and Private Letters.
Which brings me to yesterday, and my second encounter with Father Seraphim. I had ordered the Cathy Scott book through Barnes and Noble, so this was to be a planned meeting. While I was waiting for the shuttle to take me to Loyola to teach, Barnes and Noble called. My book was in. I hot-footed it to the store, and picked up the book.
I’m not a big fan of Barnes and Noble (they crowded out the local college bookstore at Loyola, earning my continuing disrespect), but since I’ve encountered Father Seraphim there twice in less than a year, I need to remember and be grateful.