Burien, Washington, April 18, 2019
“This man is suspected of an unprovoked assault on a 72 year old priest yesterday morning. If you see him please call 911,” reads a message on the Burien Police Department’s Facebook page.
He believes the man became enraged seeing his monastic clothing and pectoral cross, perhaps associating him with Trump-supporting conservative Christians. “When the man saw the cross, he went insane. He got this insane look and that’s when he punched me,” Fr. Tryphon told KIRO-7.
He also said that before hitting him, the man asked, “How’s Trump?” When Fr. Tryphon said he had no idea, that’s when the man, whose face is clearly visible on gas station surveillance cameras, punched him in the face.
“I have never been hit as hard” the abbot said. The next day he was still experiencing a ringing in his ears and some hearing loss.
Several eyewitnesses to the attack had called the police, who have released the surveillance footage, hoping someone will come forward who knows the assailant. If identified, he could be charged with felony assault.
Fr. Tryphon, however, wants him to go to jail not for the sake of punishment, but so that he can visit him in his cell and offer him forgiveness and the mercy of Christ: “I want to go to the jail and I want to sit in the cell with him, alone, and I want to tell him that I forgive him, that I love him and that God loves him. That’s what I want to do.”
Abbot Tryphon has also posted an update on his Facebook page:
An Update from the Old Monk
I should be filled with rage against a brute who could perpetrate such an unwarranted attack against me, especially since I'd smiled at him, just prior to the sucker punch. In my mind I assumed he was approaching me with a request for money, or wanting to know what I was. Since I try, with God's help, to be kind to everyone, even trying to bring a smile on a strangers face by saying something self-effacing in an attempt to put them at ease, I was totally caught off guard by what he did to me.
Instead, I find myself filled with compassion and love for the poor tortured soul who was driven to commit such a heinous act. That a young man would sucker punch an obviously old man, and a stranger to him, is truly hard for me to comprehend. Even more, I am praying for my attacker. The reason is this: Although I am imperfect, and a terrible sinner, I am graced to live a fulfilling and fruitful life, assured of God's love for me and surrounded by people who love me also. Not so the man who sucker punched me. His pointless act suggests someone filled with loathing for those around him and even more for himself. What inner torment could cause him to lash out at someone who has done him no harm? He is his own victim even more than I am his victim. I know I have forgiven him, but can he forgive himself ? My prayer for him is that he can find the courage to ask God to forgive him.
Meanwhile, I covet your prayers. I have been left with a certain amount of hearing loss, with a ringing in my left ear and reduced hearing in my right ear, along with an echoing sound. As a lover of classical music, I pray this will not be permanent. I'm also suffering from headaches, and general body pain. So, in your charity, please keep this old monk in your holy prayers.
To the countless people, including three metropolitans, three archbishops, four bishops, two abbots, and a holy abbess, who have reached out to me, I am humbled by your love and caring hearts, and thank you all from the bottom of my heart. And, as strange as it may sound to some, I am grateful that I was blessed to share in Christ's suffering and abuse, during these final days of the Great Lenten Journey.
I just heard from a Seattle television station that the King County Sheriff Department is trying to get the surveillance video from the gas station so they can air it publicly, with the hope someone will recognize the man. I want him caught, not only that he not injure another person, but that I can have a chance to visit him in jail, and let him know that I forgive him, and that God loves him.
With love in Christ,
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