I won’t go into details about how it is used, it’s history and so on, as such information is readily available online. I will just tell a story.
Three or four years ago now, when I was “introduced” to Agios Paisios, Saint Paisios of Mount Athos, I asked him, in a prayer, to teach me how to pray.
On some level I know, these conversations a should be for God alone, not the ramblings of some ego, but its good to share also. But, on another level, these things are intertwined and inseparable.
In order to try to relate the story somehow, I must tell you some individual small stories. These stories are like infusions of the emotions, time and place, the situation as it was, the melting pot at that point, it holds a lot of meaning somehow. Everything is related but it is only in looking backwards on events in our lives that we can see how things become shaped and formed, linked and result in later understandings. At the time we can not see.
One story is, my good friend, when I first moved to Crete, told me of when his grandmother whom was dying and she asked, the moments before her death, for some bread. This she the chewed in her mouth, made into a ball, took it out of her mouth and squashed it onto my friends chest, just on his heart area. No words and she died.
Another story is from Jan 6th, every year, the day when the waters become holy. This day, in Orthodox Greek, the boys dive in the water for the cross, the priest blesses the people and the waters. That day, there is a special bread that is blessed, but you must drink the holy water before you eat the bread. The Elder ladies of the village, after the mass and everyone processes down to the sea for the throwing of the cross, the ladies throw bread crumbs into the water also. It seems that particular practice of throwing the breadcrumbs into the water was one that was dying out, only a few knew, soon to be forgotten as the elders pass away. It was as if they knew what they were doing, but they did it so very descreetly.
Another story is my own realisation that my life on Crete was a life within a life. It was my life in between lives.
The last story I will share within this post is the evening I took some of the “soul” food which is made by the women of the village for the day of the dead. We all ate some but I had a promoting to take some down and throw it as an offering into the sea. And so I did. At the time I wasn’t sure if it was appropreate but just after I had done this with a small prayer, lightning flashed way out to sea. There was no storm, no subsequent flashes. To me it was a sign that the offering had been accepted.
These small experiences, and there are many more, with all the crossings and weaving of others lives (matter or spirit) whom we meet on our individual paths, make up a prayer rope. How a prayer rope becomes *lived*, becomes an integral part and…how to say…experienced part of life. In a way like Lectio Divina, but of course, that is scripture in a prayerful visualisation way. What I speak of is the way the scripture is brought to life, in a way. The opposite. They are experiences, of one life, amongst a myriad of many, the people we meet, the myriad of encounters we have each with its own points of ingress, congress and egress, imparting lessons of Spirit and matter, all those “points” or “meeting” places along the way, each forming a knot, each crossroads a knot on the prayer rope, entwined with the myriad of others. The web.
But at the heart of all this is the “Christ.”
It must be an amazing feat, those who live out an asthetic life, like the monks on Mount Athos, who strive to fulfil this.
In order to do this my only conclusion is that one must *become* prayer. *Be* prayer. So that means, constant prayer in the inside, in the heart. Like the Jesus prayer. Like as Agios Paisios says, to be in constant prayer. But it must become a feeling…I dont know. A love, I think personally, its like an emptyness that its like bitter sweet. But very simply put, we become the prayer rope. It is a part of us, our heritage just as much as we are a part of it.
I could go into much more detail to explain this and illustrate, but I have left a lot out and unsaid, those musings are for another day and I shall let it here for now. Enjoy!
(Photos not my own.)