In the morning, before sunrise, the four of us wake up for the hike back down to Vatopaidi. Rather than the main road, Alexandros wants to take a monopati to save some time. A monopati is one of the ancient footpaths that monks have used for centuries. I don’t have a flashlight, so the path through the woods doesn’t seem like a great idea. I ask Alexandros if he knows the path and he says, “No problem.”
Naturally, I wonder if this means, “Yes, I’ve taken this path before and therefore no problem,” or “I’ve never seen this path before, but I’m sure we’ll be fine.” But now we are in the woods.
We lose all signs of the trail as we enter a dried up creek bed. It’s still dark, but the morning is near. The four of us fan out into the woods to find the trail. Thankfully, after about twenty minutes Alexandros finds it, and we’re again on our way. We arrive at Vatopaidi just in time for the end of Divine Liturgy.
I am drenched in sweat from the hike, so I skip liturgy to clean up before work. Today we’ll prepare for the feast of St. Evdokimos, which begins that night. Five hundred pilgrims are expected to attend. As normal, I mop, clean, wash dishes, straighten chairs, and whatever else Father Makarios needs in the abbot’s wing.
As I mop the hallway, my mind drifts back to the evening with Father Georges. Overflows with love, Haralambo said. I’ve heard this phrase several times on Athos now, and it seems to be shorthand for a monk who is doing well. The abbot of Vatopaidi, I am told, overflows with love. And when I meet him in the hallway that day, the description fits. He strikes me as ...
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- Editors’ Note
Issue 24: A long-form special issue.
- To the Holy Mountain
A Protestant’s journey among the monks of Mount Athos. /
- ‘We Don’t Really Do the Retreat Thing Here’
To the Holy Mountain, chapter two. /
- Hermit Hospitality
To the Holy Mountain, chapter three. /
- Wonder on the Web
Issue 24: Links to amazing stuff /
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