By Athanasios Rakovalis
Elder Paisios once told me the following story:
A Greek-American doctor had once visited me. He was Orthodox, but didn’t have too much to do with religion. He didn’t even keep the fast on Fridays nor did he go to Church very often. He recently had an experience, and wanted to discuss it with someone.
One evening, while he was praying in his apartment, the “heavens opened up”. He was flooded by light, and the ceiling disappeared, as did the other forty floors above his apartment. He remained in that flood of light for a very long time – he couldn’t even tell for how long!
I stood amazed! I could feel and understand that this incident was “from God”. It was real. He had actually seen the “uncreated light”.
What had he done in his lifetime? How did he live to deserve such divine things?
He was married; he had a wife and children. His wife had said to him: “I’m sick and tired of housework; I want to be able to go out for a walk every now and then.”
Well, she wasn’t exactly employed, so she started to go out with her girlfriends and pressured him into accompanying her every night on her outings. After a while, she said: “I want to be able to go out with my girlfriends, alone.” He accepted this, for his children’s sake. Later, she wanted to go on vacation by herself. What could he do? He gave her money and the car.
She then asked him to rent out an apartment, so that she could live on her own; she would also invite her friends over. He would speak to her, he would counsel her, "How do our children feel about all this?" She was adamant. In the end, she extracted a large sum of money from him and deserted him. She felt too confined!
A few years later, he learnt that she had ended up a prostitute in the clubs of Piraeus!
He was distraught! He lamented over her fate! He thought of looking for her, but what would he tell her?
He knelt down to pray: “My God, help me, tell me what to say, what to do, to save this soul." You see, he was hurting for her. He wanted “that soul to be saved”. No male ego, no vindictiveness, no contempt. He truly hurt inside, seeing her wretched state. He ached for her salvation.
That was the moment when God opened up the heavens and flooded him with His light.
You see! You see! He was in America! And in what kind of an environment was he living? And yet, how many of us live on this Holy Mountain, within the grace of the Holy Mother of God, without any sort of progress!
Glory be to God! Glory be to God!
Source: From the book Father Paisios Told Me, pp. 27-29.