A beautiful story was told to me this week by a woman in our church. On March 27, 2020, an all-night vigil was held on Mt. Athos, asking the Panagia for her help and protection against the Coronavirus. After the vigil, it was reported that the Holy Fathers of Mt. Athos had strongly urged all Orthodox Christians to hang a cross on their front door, or paint one using fingers dipped in olive oil.
The previously mentioned woman had, for weeks on end, been waking up every night, promptly at 3:00 a.m., riddled with fearful and troubled thoughts, and would lie awake into the early hours of morning, wrestling with anxiety. One day, she came across this quote, “The Divine Name bring us the grace of Christ because it is inseparable from His person and leads us into His presence.” After reading this, she committed to using her prayer rope and attempting to pray the Jesus Prayer during these restless hours.
Because of the suggestion of the Holy Fathers of Mt. Athos, this woman and her husband decided, in faith, to hang the prayer rope that had been so meaningful, on their front door in addition to a cross hanging nearby. That night, she went to bed and did not wake until the sun woke her the next morning. This was the first time she had slept through the night in weeks, but thought it perhaps, an odd coincidence. The next night, she slept through the night again, and the next and the next. As of this writing, she has slept soundly through every night for two weeks, without waking and without anxiety.
Like the Israelites, this couple stepped out in faith to mark their doorway, in spite of doubtful reservations and regardless of what curious neighbors might think. As Orthodox Christians, we know that matter…matters! A physical act of faith led to a far greater peace than could have possibly been imagined. In a time where fear and anxiety are ever pressing realities, let us cling tightly to those material and tangible tools of the faith for hope and encouragement.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.John 14:27