The Panagia’s Garden, Mount Athos, is one of the unique places in the world.
It is not surprising that Geoffrey Pyatt, the American Ambassador to Greece, visited, and like so many others before him – as certainly many others after him will be – was excited.
Also not surprisingly, the ambassador tweeted: “Mt. Athos is a truly spiritual place, and I profoundly thank Abbot Ephraim for introducing me to the rich history of Vatopedi on my first stop here. I was also impressed by the Monastery's innovative research and ideas on its organic herbal products.”
But it is no surprise that the ambassador started his visit to Mt. Athos from that monastery, Vatopedi, nor is it a coincidence that he was impressed by Abbot Ephraim – the same feelings are shared by others who meet him – and that he was impressed by the monastery's innovative research on organic herbal products.
Amb. Pyatt, however, despite the fact that he obviously visited Mt. Athos for the first time, made the right statement: it is a truly spiritual place that leaves any visitor from anywhere the world quite moved.
I have had the opportunity to visit Mt. Athos several times, and to experience the unparalleled spiritual devotion, mental peace and serenity that one feels when it expels, even temporarily, the worries of this world, when almost all the presence there, everything and everywhere, is dedicated to God and to prayer.
When within its walls one compares and accounts for what is essential in this life and what it is not.When one thinks seriously about the meaning of our life, our purposeon earth, and what follows.
Of course, we cannot all be monks, nor should we, and only mencan visit Mt. Athos.
For those who cannot or have not had the opportunity to visit it yet, I say it is a spiritual and ethnic ark, with inhabitants with a rare wisdom, without selfishness and deceit, with solid foundations of knowledge, with true faith in God, and deep love for humanity and for Greece, for the salvation of which they continually pray.
Ultimately, Mt. Athos defies description. It has to be experienced. Only then can we understand what it means to be a monk – devoting themselves to prayer – and what their contribution is to the world.
And that was the ambassador's experience, and he described it with such precision.