He was a simple monk, he always worked with his hands, and he ate moderately. He never gossiped. We held short, simple, but meaningful conversations in three languages.

He taught me how to pray. He said pray slowly because, after all, you are speaking to the Lord. And to pray often, to keep away the Devil.

On the evening we learned of his painful death, we composed hymn, psalming good-bye to life as the stalks of wheat swayed in the wind under purple sky like undulating waves of the ocean, and recited Saint Paul’s letter to the Philippians at night in candle-lit darkness. The Lord is near.

For three days we recited all the Psalms and we cried at his funeral because of love.

Just as he worked with his hands, with our hands we dug a hole in the ground in which to bury him, anointing his body with oil, and, after deep sadness, we felt the rush of joy because we know that to live is Christ and to die is gain.

We worked hard on his day of remembrance, like he did during life on earth, and we cried because of love.

Father Niphon, Αιωνία εν Μνήμη.

(originally published 3 November 2006)

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