A Journey of a Lost Soul
By Anastasia Fahey, Eudora Mathewes, Genevieve Bell, and Abby Roth.
Illustrated by Anastasia Fahey
The River of Idleness
“Father, please! You must help me! I don’t know what to do!” The peculiar elder led
me to a chair and offered me a seat.
“Calm down, my child, and tell me all your worries. God will help you.” Beneath the
aged face and raggedy chestnut brown beard was a smile such that I had never seen. The long
cloak and animal skin robe he was wearing added to his curious appearance, but his serene
countenance penetrated my entire being. I wondered how a human could attain such heavenly
“Well, Father, I’ve been having a very hard time. You see, my wife died just a month ago.
I cannot live without her. She was the joy of my life. Recently my only son was diagnosed with
brain cancer, and the hospital bills are quite expensive, so I had to accept a new job with a higher
pay. This requires me to move to a different state, and at the moment I don’t have enough money
to do so. Father, I feel like God has forgotten about me.” The elder sat thinking for a while, but at
last he spoke,
“What is your name?”
“John,” I replied.
“Well, John, on the eastern side of this island there is a mountain. I want you to climb to
the top. I believe you will find your answer up there.” With that he led me out of the tiny cell and
gave me his blessing.
Some divine force led me to the foot of a towering mountain. A gushing river was blocking
my path though. This river was teeming and bubbling with energy. It reminded me of the
temptation of idleness because of its never ending movement. Laziness never seems to leave my
mind, because it is such a large temptation, I thought. “Well, I’ll have to turn back because there
is obviously no way to cross it.” Without knowing, I had just succumbed to the temptation by not
asking for God’s help. However, before the river was out of sight I spotted a small rowboat along
the shore. Immediately I inspected it and found it quite seaworthy. I set out in my little vessel.
Crossing the river was not without struggle, and by the time I reached the other side my arms and
back were aching terribly. Why, I just realized how we can conquer the temptation of laziness! I
thought. My struggle in crossing the river is just like fighting idleness through fasting, prayer,
and reading the Scriptures. Thank you God for revealing this to me! With that, I continued on my
journey along a path leading up the mountainside.
– Anastasia Fahey
Battle of the Senses
My soul cried out in a mixture of joy and pain as I embarked further on this new path.
God is always watching and if only I had asked for help I would have crossed the river sooner.
Now the sky was beginning to darken and the clouds were heavy with rain. The wind rattled my
bones. Shivering, I walked faster. The sun was almost down, only a few rays of sunlight
streamed through the dense forest. I begrudgingly decided I should look for a place to rest for the
night. The wind howled at my ears as I walked, and I watched the clouds just waiting for them to
burst. Oh, why had I decided to do this? Climb a mountain that probably does not even exist?
Before I could question myself further, a shining light seemed to burn my eyes. In front of me,
blocking my path was a beautiful tall golden statue. It was in the shape of a peacock radiating
with power. I couldn’t tear my eyes from it.
A tiny voice inside of me, told me it was not real, an illusion, but I pushed it away, taking
a step closer. Perhaps, I mused, perhaps this is a special statue. Maybe in the shape of a god. If I
were to maybe pray to it or give a sacrifice towards it, it would help me. Enlighten me on my
journey. Just then the light faded and I saw that my golden statue was not gold. It was only a trick
of the light, the statue was in fact bronze, and with the last bits of light, it appeared like it was
glowing. The sun had completely set now and the statue darkened.
My face burnt with shame. I fell to my knees weeping bitterly. I made the sign of the cross, my
soul calling out the One and True God. A light brighter than that of the statue erupted over the
woods. The statue fell to dust. My heart that was heavy moments before felt lighter. Only, You
Lord, are perfect. You are my light, Lord, this statue is nothing compared to the wonders and
beauty your Kingdom holds. With those words in my mind a new path appeared.
A Path of Discernment
I started on the new path, still ashamed of having let myself get distracted. I had a battle raging
in my mind about whether I was even capable of reaching the top of the mountain. I walked
down the new path for a while before I came to a fork in the road. There were two paths for me
to take, to my left was one that was clear, the ground smooth and the path straight. It seemed as if
it went past all the ravines and steep hills, straight up to the top of the mountain. The path to my
right was overgrown, full of brush and very steep. At the other side of the path lay a beautiful tall
church where you could hear hymns being sung. I felt drawn to the church, it looked beautiful
and the hymns sounded so beautiful and angelic. The church felt like the reason I was here and
something deep inside was nudging me to go to it. But on the surface I felt even more strongly
drawn to the easy, clear path.
I decided to follow the easy path thinking that it might also bring me to the beautiful church,
regardless of whether I could see it at the end or not. I walked down the path for a while
confident in my decision before I eventually found an open clearing. It was clean, dry and even
seemed to be warmer than everywhere else. I thought it was the perfect place to sleep for the
night. As I lay down on a patch of soft grass I thought to myself, I am so glad I didn’t take the
other path. It is dark and cold out and I might have never found a good place to sleep if I had
followed the other path considering how messy it was. I found a comfortable position and fell
immediately into a deep, comfortable sleep. Just a few hours later I woke up to a wildfire
Fire. It was everywhere. It reminded me of my enemies, the flesh, the world, and the devil
which never cease to attack me. The smoke was burning my eyes and making breathing almost
impossible. All the trees were flaming and many came crashing down because their roots had
been burned. I grappled to find some open clear air, but all was in vain. The heat was practically
unbearable and my hair was singed. The clothes I was wearing began to melt and stick to my
body. I was sure I would die at that very moment. My enemies are innumerable, and too strong. I
will never be able to overcome them! I thought. My Sweet Lord and Savior, please help me! Save
me from my passions! I cried out.
Immediately I felt a drop of rain on my skin, and soon I was completely drenched in water.
The sound of water sizzling on every limb and leaf was music to my ears. My breath was
restored, and I felt completely renewed. My flesh was no longer boiling with heat. It was instead
veiled with a cool and crisp substance that healed every wound. Suddenly a thought came upon
me. God’s desire to save me is greater than that of my enemy to destroy me. My God, please
forgive me for doubting your greatness and mercy. You are my refuge and strength. Only with You
can I overcome evil.
I was still in shock after the fire was put out, but I continued to praise the Lord. “Thank
you, Father, for delivering me from what could have been a terrible death!” I fell down to my
knees as I thanked him. I began to walk again, on this path that almost brought death upon me.
After a while of walking I began to become weary and tired.
Once again, I saw a stream of fresh clear water that flowed from the top of the mountain. I
went over to it and stooped to get a drink of water, and as I looked at the water I saw my
reflection. I saw how weary and exhausted I looked, and suddenly longed to be home again.
What was the point of all this? Nothing had changed, if anything, I was worse off than before.
But then I started thinking of everything that I had encountered on my journey, and how God had
intervened many times, and saved me. My mind cleared, and I looked back at my reflection and I
felt like I was glowing. Peace filled my heart, soul and body.
Gaining Christian Perfection
With my head clear and my heart light I made it to the top of the mountain. I had left the trees
behind me and made it to a large clearing, covered with glistening snow. I breathed in deeply.
When has the air been so clear? When did the sky seem so blue? Oh God, I called in my heart,
thank you for the air! The sky, the clouds, the sun. With You all these beautiful things are
I suddenly felt ashamed. God had made so many beautiful amazing things in the world and I
let myself get distracted multiple times on this journey. I constantly forgot about God and didn’t
ask for his help when I was having trouble. I realized that every problem I had had recently was
because I wasn’t putting all my trust in God or asking for His help when I was in need, instead I
was simply trusting myself and my own thoughts. I had done so much wrong, most of my actions
were the exact opposite of what the church had taught me to do. I was glad to have learned my
lesson and everything seemed clear to me.
I fell to the ground and prayed. “Thank you Father for everything you have done for me. I
now know that if I put my trust in you, that you will take care of me and my family. Thank you
also, Elder, for helping me and giving me the opportunity to learn this valuable lesson”.
“With this new clarity of mind I have acquired, I think I should return to the world now. Even
though I was once barely surviving but now I am living a life that has meaning. My wonderous
Lord has saved me!”
-Abby, Anastasia, Genevieve and Eudora
Heading down the mountain felt like I was flying. My path, not once changing. Never had
I once felt this clarity that I had now. Never had I once felt so sure. I knew my certainty was not
my own though, only with God I was all these things. Only with God can I be certain that I
would be all right. By putting my trust in him, I felt less anxious, less downhearted. My heart and
soul soared. When I reached my village, I immediately began to search for the elder. I had to
thank him for the wonderful gift he had given me! He had given me Christ. He had opened the
key to my soul where the Holy Spirit could now dwell in unity within me.
I came upon the small monastery where I had met the Elder, St. John the Forerunner
Monastery. Entering I found a small monk painting an icon.
“Excuse me, Brother?” I began, “Could you help me find the Elder of this monastery?”
The monk smiled fondly,
“Why, you have found him. How may I help you?”
I shook my head confused.
“Is there another elder? I was here only a few days ago, and I met with him. I even spoke
with him, he helped me a great deal, and I have come to thank him.” The supposed elder
wrinkled his brow confused, standing up. When he stood up I caught a glimpse of the icon he
had been painting. I gasped, pointing at the icon exclaiming,
“That’s him, that’s the elder!” The man smiled looking at the painting with awe, “My
dear, dear, man, that is St. John who died a very long time ago.” I stared at the icon and just for
a moment the elder in the icon seemed to smile right back…