SATUS PASS -- On a pine-covered patch off U.S. Highway 97, the Pacific Northwest meets the Byzantine Empire.
Evergreens shelter a collection of structures that look more like typical Northwest cabins than a Greek Orthodox monastery.
In the wee hours, the woods are dark. So still, so quiet, so peaceful. Elsewhere, bars are closing, truckers are making the long haul, children have been asleep for hours.
At the roadside monastery at the edge of a forest, Greek Orthodox sisters are praying for them all.
From this remote sylvan setting 10 miles north of Goldendale, more than a dozen nuns pray for the world. Their prayers continue until the stars disappear from the sky, the sun rises and shines, and darkness sets in again.
Sister Rebekah helps sister Prodromia from sinking into the snow as the two help clear the sidewalk in front of the store on Jan. 31.s
Life -- a tranquil cycle of work and prayer -- goes largely uninterrupted at St. John the Forerunner, the only Greek Orthodox monastery in Central Washington. Tucked under the trees and named in honor of St. John the Baptist, it's a small version of monasteries in Greece that have been running for hundreds of years, and it's growing. New sisters, most from the western United States, arrive almost every year.
The monastery is home to 16 sisters, including four novices. Most are in their 20s. The oldest is in her 70s. Four are from Greece. Three are from Washington, including two from Yakima. Another three are from California.
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