Orthodox Byzantine Chants
Holy Mount Athos
Once, there was a downcast shepherd who had a flock on a mountain. His hut was near a sycamore. In winter it was struck by snow and in summer it was burnt by sun. The sycamore and the clear brook cooled him. He was tending his sheep all day long. In the evening he read some pages. On those pages weren’t any stories, only his mother’s prayers. He watched the stars all night long and wondered if there was or if it were possible to be any star or light inside him.
How could he become light? And if God who is light gives light, what happened that he was still so sad?
”It has no meaning to believe in light and not be light myself.” ”I have to do something about this.”
He was musing if he had to go to learn how to become light. He left his flock in the care of a friend and he started his long journey on his horse. On the first night he slept in a hut made by hunters. He took some cheese from his bag and ate. In the morning he got up and started to descend on the other side of the mountain, that was full of sycamores and bushes. All that place smelled wonderfully! But the shepherd sought a way to become light. Going further he saw beneath a hut like his own and in the garden there was someone digging. When he got closer, he saw an old woman.
”Good day, ma’am!” he said.
”Good be your way, son!” she answered.
”What are you doing there?”
”I am digging my tomatoes, son.” ”Could you help me a little?”
”I am glad to do it”, the boy answered and dismounted from his horse. And he immediately started to dig in high spirits. After a while, the garden was ready.
”Thank you, son!” the old woman said. ”If you want to rest in my humble hut, you can come inside.”
”Thank you, but I can’t.” ”Do you have any idea how I could become light?
The old woman smiled and answered: ”Come and help and you’ll find what you seek.”
The lad thanked her and left. In the first village from the crest of the mountain, he met an old man who was digging his garden. He helped him too and when he asked him how he could become light, got the same answer: ”Come and help!”
”Whoa!” he said for himself. ”Two people told me the same thing.” ”There must be hidden some inner wisdom in their words.” He continued his way and met a little girl who was crying.
”Why are you crying, my pet?”
”I cut myself and my hand is bleeding.”
Then the shepherd took out his handkerchief and bandaged the hand of that little girl. Her tears stopped and a smile shone again on her face.
The shepherd continued his journey and anywhere he went, he helped everyone he could. People and animals. Till one day, when returning to his hut, he met the emperor of that land, who was going hunting.
”My kind, brave lad, may you be healthy!” the emperor told him. ”What do you wash yourself with that you have such a bright face?”
”I wash myself only with plain water.”
”There must be a secret you hide, because you’re all light.”
”All my life I wished to become light and have a radiant face.” ”I met two people and they both told me: Come and help!” ”Therefore, this is what I’ve always done.”
”Good for you!” ”You became pure light indeed.” ”Cause what is light if not love itself?” ”As long as I have no heirs, come with me and one day you’ll be my inheritor.”
After many years, the shepherd became a good ruler, who taught his people about love that brings pure light…