When you haven't shaved your face or cut your hair since the mid-1980s you're going to attract a certain amount of attention and some odd questions. Father Abbot Tryphon, the head monk of All-Merciful Saviour Monastery on Vashon Island, takes the inquiries in stride, with humor.

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He looks a bit like a “Dead Head,” which he was. And like he should be driving around in a 1967 VW van, which he did.

When you haven’t shaved your face or cut your hair since the mid-1980s you’re going to attract a certain amount of attention and some odd questions. Especially when your everyday wardrobe consists of a long, flowing black cassock and klobuk.

But no, he’s not Dumbledore or Gandalf.

Father Abbot Tryphon, the head monk of All-Merciful Saviour Monastery on Vashon Island, takes the inquiries in stride, with humor.

Marching in his first Norwegian Independence Day parade in Ballard, one youngster asked, “Are you a Viking chieftain?”

An adult asked, “Are you a Norwegian Jew?’

Another wanted to know, “Are you 1,000 years old?” and, “Are you a wizard?”

The 65-year-old Russian Orthodox monk is not a typical priest.

He’s up at 4 a.m. every day, with morning prayers and spiritual readings, rousing the hens, collecting the eggs, tending the garden, joining in one common meal with the other monks and evening prayers. He also greets the visitors.

He’s also a thoroughly modern abbot, keeping a daily blog updated with photos.

He’s on Facebook he says, “because young people communicate that way.”

He has a doctorate and taught in the Bay Area and pursued Zen Buddhism before coming to this monastery.

“I wanted something but did not know what it was.”

When he found it, he says, it allowed him to give others hope and happiness.

Alan Berner: aberner@seattletimes.com or 206-464-8133