”As you wish, son”20 June 2022
Visitors: Your blessing, Elder.
Elder: The Lord’s, boys. Welcome to our house. You look very tired from the long walk. Splash your faces with the water from this faucet, get refreshments from the guest-master and come out onto the balcony where we can talk.
After a short while:
Visitors: Here we are, Elder, as you told us. It’s beautiful here. You can see for miles from up here. The sun going down over the sea. A magical evening.
Elder: I’m glad you have the eyes and soul to see God’s wonders. We’ll praise this majesty soon, at vespers and then at the vigil.
Visitors: What time will the vigil start and finish, Elder.
Elder: It’ll start soon and end in the morning, at sunrise, when we’ll go in for a meal in the refectory.
A young visitor: I’m not going to the vigil. I’d rather sleep.
Elder: As you wish, son.
Visitors: Elder, this young man isn’t one of our group. He was coming by himself and followed us. He looks a bit of a headcase.
Elder. Leave the boy alone. We’re all one group and Jesus is with us. Because in his name we’re gathered together on this hilltop of God’s. I’m going to church now. Strike the talanto for the third time.
Next day, in the refectory
Elder: Enjoy your meal. Eat and ‘Glory to God for everything’* You have my blessing, because you all came to church. I noticed you praying with faith. Even though you were tired, you all came.
A visitor: Not all. That young man with the beard didn’t come. He’s strange. He doesn’t seem to be right in the head.
Elder: Don’t talk like that. It doesn’t matter that he didn’t come. He may have been praying to God with greater fervor, even if he didn’t come to church. There may be some reason he didn’t come. Don’t call him cracked and eccentric.
Another visitor: Elder, the young man came. Around midnight. He sat right at the side. I was sitting not far away. You couldn’t really see him in the dark. He’d fallen to his knees and was weeping intensely. When he heard the Gospel about the misery of the Prodigal Son he began to sob. I didn’t see what time he left.
Elder: Where is he now?
Visitors: He’s sat on a rock way up there and is gazing at the sea… We’re leaving. He can stay here.
Elder: Don’t leave him alone. Take this blessing [some food] for him. It’s a little bread, two tomatoes and a few olives. The poor boy hasn’t had anything to eat. How’s he going to walk?
Visitors: Here he comes, Elder. Better that you give him it yourself.
Elder: There you are. The refectory’s waiting for you, son. If you don’t want to eat in the refectory, take this blessing with you.
Young Man: Elder, can I ask you a favor?
Elder: What is it, son?
Young man: Elder, I refused to come to the vigil and spoke rudely. But you answered kindly and said: ‘As you wish, son’. That’s how my father would have answered me. But I never knew a father. I’ve lived as an orphan. Can I call you ‘father’.
Elder: If that’s what you want, by all means. But…
Young man: Why the ‘but’, Elder?
Elder: Son, I’ll soon be leaving for heaven. You’ll be an orphan again. Take the father of all of us as your father. The one who is in heaven.
Young man: I’ll do as you say Elder: ‘Our Father who are in heaven, never leave me an orphan…’
Elder: ‘Amen, amen. Go with my blessing. Now you’ll never be alone. Now, if you cry, it’ll be tears of joy. Fare well. May our most holy Lady be with you.
* The last words of Saint John Chrysostom