The weekend was refreshing and rejuvenating, focusing on what is good and productive about our Orthodox faith and traditions. There was a major emphasis on charitable acts, on compassion and on forgiveness for both perceived and real wrongs committed by others. In other words, what is affirming to us as gay men and on the positive aspects of religion. At no time did I sense any condemnation nor judgment from any of the monastic brothers.
This spiritual respite was a welcome change from the often hateful and hurtful environment that modern Christianity has become. I'm always bewildered and conflicted over how a belief system based on brotherhood, love and tolerance is consistently misrepresented and twisted by its followers and their leaders into one of exclusion, marginalization and violence. This four-day retreat was a true back-to-basics journey into what religion is all about.
During our recreation/leisure time daily, we were permitted to use the heated, indoor pool. As this was an all-male community (monastery) and an exclusively male retreat, nude swimming was allowed. Initially, my boyfriend and I were the only pair taking advantage of this. By the end of our first hour of free time, others were also enjoying the aqua-nude opportunity. By Monday morning, more than half of the participants were swimming naked.
Peace! Get naked. Enjoy!