There is a very famous Monastery of St Michael on the island of Thassos in Greece, to which there is a reference in a document of 1287. A monk, Luke, built a church where there was a sacred spring. When the Ottomans wished to defile the spring, it dried up, only to reappear in a cave down by the sea, a walk we did today. You head down a path marked by metal poles topped by red-painted bottles to a pebble beach. This part is fairly steep. Then you clamber over rocks by the sea, through narrow passes, rock archways and over a wooden bridge, always being directed by red arrows painted on the rocks and crosses in more difficult places. To your right, the green Aegean and Mt Athos in the distance, the only spectators a pair of goats and some slender birds. After an hour and a quarter, having climbed Golgotha and gone past Scylla and Charybdis, you reach your destination, a trickling spring and in a cave you can only enter by wriggling like a worm a quiet pool of water, where we prayed for those we know under the Archangel’s watchful and merciful gaze. To humble oneself before God, wriggling like a worm, is not only appropriate, it is strangely uplifting. Orthodoxy is smell and on the way back we kept getting wafts of fragrant candle wax. A blessed experience.
This article was also published on the website Orthodox Christianity.