The Earth’s Circle – Kolodozero

by Ekaterina Solovieva

Viktor and Elena, the singers  in the church, clean up after the service
Fifteen years ago, three rebellious friends from Moscow were strolling trough the north searching for the meaning of life until they ran into a beautiful village on a lake shore called Kolodozero. In 2001 they started rebuilding the local church, which was burned in 1977. One of them, the gingerbeard punk Arkady Shlykov stayed there forever and became a priest in the new church. The stern locals at first cast much suspicion onto the rockstar-resembling priest, but later on came to love him wholeheartedly. Thanks to Arkady and his willingness to help the village «woke up». He became its kernel, brought motivation to people and provoked a new wave of its developpement.

The village of Kolodozero, deeply concealed in the woods of Pudozh, is located on the border between Arkhangelsk Oblast and Karelia. In ancient times, people settled on the northern fanks of the local bodies of water—rivers and lakes. Kolodozero therefore consists of a handful of small hamlets—Lakhta, Isakovo, Ust’-Reka, Pogost’, Zaozerye, and Dubovo. Houses are scattered along the picturesque lake’s shores and capes. Fifteen years ago, these places enchanted three friends from Moscow who were strolling around the north and searching for the meaning of life, and most likely, themselves as well. In 2001, they jointly gathered resources and started building a new church to replace the old one that was burned down back in 1977. One of the friends, the redhead rebel and punk Arkady Shlykov, who graduated from the Moscow Spiritual Seminary, accepted the ordination in 2005. A 40 years later, therefore, parochial life was born anew in the village. The stern locals at frst cast much suspicion onto the shaggy-haired, rockstar- resembling priest, but later on came to love him wholeheartedly. They accepted his freedom, both external and internal, and appreciated his character—peace-loving and gentle. This is a story about the people of the Russian North, about what keeps them together, about the spirit and soul, about their passions and emotions.

Several months after the project was closed, on February 12th 2018, I have got sad news from Kolodozero. Priest Arkady Shlykov suddenly died after a heart attack. He was 45 years old. All the years he lived in Kolodozero he took all the problems and sorrows of the people of the village very personally, helped them selfessly. He used to spend hours hitchhiking to the remote communities to baptize, read the funeral service or just serve in the temple. And at some moment his heart gave up. A new priest has been already appointed to the church in Kolodozero. But he won’t be able to serve regularly, and people are yet to get used to him.

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