Some comments made by Misha: This letter was received in 2006. It was kept hidden because of personal reasons by its recipient. Today the time has come to publish it after getting the permission from its author.
A friend, G, met Fr Paisios, whose existence he was not aware of, in 2001(seven years after the elder’s passing), when G went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Mount Athos. The following letter describes the beautiful circumstances of the meeting, the conversation and his acquaintance with Elder Paisios.
I would like first to give thanks to the Lord, for people like Elder Paisios, and especially for dear G, who so openly entrusted me with the details of his acquaintance with Elder Paisios. I pray that Our Lady and the Elder will protect him and his family now that he is in foreign land.
My friend Misha, Hello!
Finally, almost five years later the story of my meeting with Elder Paisios is coming to a positive conclusion and therefore I can finally draw the line and find some peace at last. It is impertinent that I share this experience with someone. Especially since this someone is you, who have already met Fr Paisios. Even here, I can discern his intervention. I only want from you to listen to the whole story as a form of confession. I am certain that you will show the necessary understanding like no one else would. This is enough for me. I will also include some pictures with my story, since a picture is worth a thousand words.
25 November 2001
The path towards the Holy monastery of Karakallou: a few hours before I met with Fr Paisios. (The picture has been changed a little by the recipient to protect the privacy of the author)
I met the Elder at a similar point on the path, and he was dressed in exactly the same way. The only difference with the picture is that during the day of the meeting, the day was cold and dull and there was some snow on either side of the road. It was also especially muddy since it had only recently been cleared of the snow. At this point the road was coming into a V shape. I was getting ready to follow the left path towards the beach, since I had wrongly assumed that the monastery was close to the beach.
The Elder suddenly appeared and after telling me “You are not going in the right direction, follow me” he began taking the right hand side of the road. While I was following a few steps behind, I was wondering why on earth wasn’t he freezing since he was so thinly dressed. And also: “Why his shoes weren’t so muddy like mine were?”
I was impressed by how quickly he was walking. I had started losing my breath and I felt relieved when he finally told me: “Follow this path and Christ and our Lady will protect you. I will return to my Skete”. Beforehand, he had also commented that “they use the bulldozers and destroy the paths of the Holy Mountain” and asked me: “Is it snowing in I…?”
It all lasted more or less ten minutes.
When we each went our way, I felt that something completely strange had happened but I could not fathom what it was.
I left the Holy Mount Athos on the 15th of December. Just as the ferryboat was being towed away from the Daphni dock, I felt utterly and deeply pained for leaving. Five years later, I know now that a huge part of me is still there.
I celebrated Christmas and the New Year 2002 with my family. Afterwards, I picked up my rag sack and went off once again.
The pain of being away from Greece was very strong once again. The years go by and the possibility of never seeing Greece again was becoming more real.
(A personal account follows for the years 2002-2003)
The pain was not as tough now, but the remembrance of my meeting with Elder Paisios was getting stronger. This led my brother to tell me on the phone once: “Please, let’s not start with this monk again!”
(More personal details follow regarding 2003-2004)
During the Olympics I had the incredible urge to build a small chapel in our place. My desire was very strong even though I had never been openly religious.
My relationship with the Church was formal. I was just showing respect for my religion and the Church and nothing more.
During the autumn of 2004 I started drawing the design and gathered together all the materials. In 2005, I built the chapel inside the room I used to have as my hobby/computer room.
Everything was going well and I was enjoying myself. It was strange but sometimes the room was filled with some wonderful scent, and I didn’t know where it was coming from. My wife could not smell anything. I built it piece by piece, using good quality cement and I hope it will last for many years to come.
I finished beginning of May 2005 and took all the pieces down to the garden in order to put them together. Beginning of August 2005 everything was ready. They sent me a small bell from Greece, some Holy water from the Church at Spata and some oil from Saint Efraim’s oil lamp.
On the 15th of August we inaugurated the Church and devoted it to our Lady. We called it “The Omnipresent Lady”
The icons have been sent as gifts from my family in Greece. Then all of a sudden weird things started happening.
During the following day, I was working at my computer. I often work with many pages simultaneously. When I finished and was closing the pages, the Elder’s picture showed up, which I had been searching for, for so long. I still didn’t know his name. I was so shocked that I immediately picked up the phone to speak to my sister: “I found the monk. He has been showing me his shoes, as if he was asking me ‘do you remember me?’ ” I also told her that I would send her a picture to show to our parish priest, in case he knew who he was. My sister, who is more down to earth, told me that it looks like he is either going to show up again or give clues as to his identity.
A few days later, I listened purely by chance to Manos Tsimilides’ programme
‘Agrypnos’ on ΝΕΤ. I heard him tell one of his listeners who was looking for the saints of the day, to look up in www.eortologio.gr. I curiously looked up the page, a truly wonderful one and very useful for people like me. I then wrote
something entirely common in the Guestbook. Ten days later I received an e mail from www.kivotos.1821.gr in which they were informing me about their website. I replied asking them ‘where did they find my address’ and they replied: From the eortologio.
I very much like the site ‘kivotos Help’. They are wonderful people. I especially like the answers they give to their members’ questions. We went on to exchange some very interesting e mails. In one of them, I referred to the difficult times the modern Greek family is going through. They agreed with me and said: “Especially now that Elder Paisios is not with us anymore, to help…” I asked who exactly Elder Paisios was and they said that he was one of the best and most loved Hgiorites of recent years. They sent me two pictures. I thought that it was the right time to ask them about my elder and I sent them his pictures. I am sure they thought that I was mocking them. They simply send me his address:
I visited the page but I still didn’t know his name in order to ask of him. I surfed in the internet many hours before I finally came to realize that my elder, was indeed Paisios. I believed that he had died after our meeting on the Holy Mountain on the 25th of November 2001. I asked for some more details and a brief resume of his life at the Forum of ‘athos edo’.
G angelos replied with a brief account of his life and recommended the book which hiernmonk Isaak had written. When I read about the date the elder had passed away, it was as if I had been hit by a thunderbolt. Even my wife realized it and asked me what had happened.
I asked for the book to be sent from Greece. It is one of the most difficult ones I had ever read. It has affected me a lot. It is difficult for me to grasp all those willing hardships that he had imposed upon himself. The strength of his will was something unbelievable.
This is shortly my account of the meeting with Elder Paisios. I have no doubt that he had saved my life at that time in the Holy Mountain. He now does the same by leading my life slowly towards salvation. It has been difficult for me to write this letter to a stranger. It is something I have never done before. I would just like to show that I am not being fanatical, or rather that I have not gotten on a high horse. I am a normal person with my weaknesses…( some personal details are given here)
Many the Lord have mercy on me.
It is strange but something inside me tells me to trust you. It is something I cannot explain. But during the last few years, so many things have happened which I cannot explain anyway. I leave it up to you to consider if it is worth publishing this story. I think I owe it to him, that people should learn about this story. You may use my letter and the pictures as they are or you can tamper with them as you see fit. I hope I didn’t pester you with my rambling. I wish you all the best. Have a nice weekend.
Some further comments made by Misha:
All the personal details of my friend G are available to everyone. The letter in its entirety (and the parts which we have today left out) will be handed over to the right place so that it can be evaluated and presented for the benefit of those who respect the Elder. I ask all those friends who may wish to reproduce it to preserve its content and name its source in order to prevent things like “the malfunctioning phone” which often appears in personal account stories.