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They Say I Am A Hermit

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They Say I Am A Hermit - St Shenouda Monastery Pimonakhos Articles

All it was is that I left the monastery to go for a walk in the desert. I walked until the evening. The hour was late and I could not find the way from which I came, so I sat down. Night fell and in the midst of this darkness I lost myself in prayer… It was the most joyous I had ever felt in the last nine years of my ascetic life.

I thankfully ate the only piece of bread I carried with me when I left the monastery. It was the tastiest I had ever had. Before I went to sleep, I drew around me a circle on the ground, and surrounded it with crosses. I went into deep sleep to wake up in time for early morning praises.

The next day, I attempted to return back, but not knowing the exact way, I walked endlessly. By midday I conceded that I had lost my way. I was not disheartened for the only way I care for is the one that leads me to God and for this I left the world… I continued to walk until I came across a village from which I could obtain bread and water. However, I had no money for the bread. In the midst of my dilemma, I was approached by an honourable gentleman, who got off his donkey and paid for my bread. When he learnt that I was lost, he offered to help, but I kindly declined. He then insisted I take his donkey to support me along the way, which I accepted.

I immediately headed back for the mountain not knowing where to go. I thought to myself, why not live without the monastery, the people and the shelter? Didn’t I leave the world for Christ? This is how I must live the remainder of my life.

I settled in a spot which had a few palm trees and built myself a hut from tree branches. I braided palm leaves and sold my work to buy food for myself and my donkey who became my companion. I sold Page 2 my work at the nearest village, bought my necessities and gave the remainder to the poor. When people discovered where I lived, I had to move to another place far away. I choose a spot seventy kilometres from where I stayed. Being far from villages, I relied on dates for food and a nearby water spring for water…

Occasionally, I would see a number of hermit fathers passing by. They directed me to a nearby church where they assembled. I attended the church from time to time to receive the Holy Communion and not once did anyone speak to me or to one another.

I did not feel time pass me by, I would pray for hours, read the Bible completing multiple books in one sitting. I ate once a day; I lived naked for a while for I had no replacement for my worn clothes. I was cut off from everyone, but I tasted happiness I had never experienced before. And so, I lived my life among the mountains and ravines, barely feeding myself, wearing clothes that barely cover my skinny body and without shelter, continuously moving from place to place. I experienced freedom like never before, I am contented with this life until the day I depart at which point my happiness would be complete… Does this make me a hermit? I wonder, how can people say I am a hermit?!