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Arsenios the Cobbler

I’m delighted to share on this first blog post, a poem inspired by my pilgrimage to the Holy Mountain of Athos over twenty years ago. My spiritual father, the late Metropolitan Nicholas of Amissou, encouraged me to go and helped make it possible. May his blessed memory be eternal.

The poem depicts the first moments of my arrival at the Holy Monastery of Saint Paul, two days after my ascent of Mount Athos. There was a bit of a mishap on the descent.

While I was sliding down the Mountain

Loose feet falling, scraping, dodging,

He was waiting for me

Arsenios the Cobbler.

Could he have known I was the one?

Or maybe not.

But as I stumbled in the gate

Right boot ripped, shredded

Held together by my belt -

He greeted me with eager expectation.

“Please!” he cried. “Let me fix it!

I’ve no work here – for twenty years

The monks just buy their shoes.

I promise you will have them by the Vespers.”

I smiled, grateful for his kindness

And wondered how his life had been,

A cobbler twenty years and not a single shoe.

Barefoot (he took them both!), I made my way to rest

And when wakened by the bells for evensong

I opened my cell’s door to behold

My boots?

He had not only fixed them, stitched them both up new,

But spit-shined, polished black and gleaming!

No … more …

My soul was cleaned,

shined by the light of his

Act of love – ne’er to be forgotten.

Arsenios the Cobbler.

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