Some friends just e-mailed me to tell me that they were aware of a Greek publication containing this very story by Fr. Nicholas. If anyone out there is interested and reads Greek, here it is:
All in all, after taking a look at the story, my short synopsis wasn’t too far off the mark (surprising for my memory, being as old as I am :)). Anyway, a few things to mention:
The council members (επιτροποί) were illiterate simple folk
Fr. Nicholas was working simultaneously as an assistant to some very important theologians in the university and as a “preacher” (priest, whose job it is to give sermons on Sundays at various churches) in a few villages. He said that he experienced a deep loneliness in this job because he felt as though none of the simple villagers understood what he was saying. He would look out and see that they weren’t catching the meaning of his sermons. One day, as I mentioned, he was invited for coffee by the members of the council and the priest. The members quite simply told him, after expressing their concern with the fact that their church had not yet been consecrated:
[the following is my own humble translation from the article. Despite the awkwardness of it, you should get the idea]
“You know what we did, we decided to fast for 3 weeks, so that God would show us [whether the Liturgy was actually working or not]. We did it, and the truth is, one Sunday before the Bishop came to do the consecration, we saw, at the time of Divine Liturgy again this light.”
I [Fr Nicholas] began to be alarmed:
“Which light, what light?”
“That light, the eternal light, you see the sun afterwards and you think that it is dark, a light which descends and you really see; you see many things, conditions, the present, the past, the future inside of it etc.”
I began to get shaken up; I was with people who had the experience of St. Gregory Palamas and St. Simeon the New Theologian and of course also the other member confirmed this and the simple priest also said “yes, yes it was all like that...” It was a shocking experience for me, and of course it didn’t stop there, but I began to search for the council-member, this simple man.
“How do you live (after experiencing the shock which stayed with me for years). How do you live?
“Ehh...How do I Iive? Poorly.”
“What do you do, how exactly do you spend your day, what exactly do you do throughout the day?”
“I don’t do entirely that much,” He said “I don’t have something special; I love God, but I’m just a little patient.”
He had patience, do you know what that means? It [Patience] means: this cross of freedom, embracing others. Within that, God is revealed. This is the magnificent teaching. Hesychasm is experiential physiology. Don’t think--you theologians (he was addressing this in a sermon to theologians)--that hesychasm is individualized application as the hindus practice or those who dispense with the will to see the spectacle. It is this opening in society, and in this way the big revelations occur, of which I, naturally, as the doctoral candidate and beyond was not worthy, neither have I been worthy ever since.
Thank you for your patience.