Fr. Iakovos, a disciple of Elder Aimilianos of Simonopetra (Mount Athos) remembers one of his encounters with his spiritual father.
Location & video source: St. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral, Ottawa.
“‘Do you know why God put your eyes right there?’
I was speechless, I was thinking, I was asking: what does he want to hear, what is the answer?
And all I could say to him was: ‘Geronda (which means Elder), you tell me!’
And so he looked at me and said: ‘so you can see what the other person needs, and not what you need!’
Because, in truth, if you wish to see what you need you have to go the mirror and look at yourself…
And so then he says to me: ‘that is what a personal relationship is!’
My spiritual father referred to it in this way:
He walked over to me one morning after the Divine Liturgy while I was helping him in the service…
and he was having some problems because, as a human being, there was one small thing that would happen if there was ever some smoke coming in the air from the kitchen, for example, as the cooks were cooking, because we cook with a wood stove…
it would get into his nose and he would begin to choke… and this was a problem for him…
so he would ask me: ‘close that window over there, open that window over there.’ and then he would realize something happened, the wind changed: ‘close that window over there, maybe that window over there would be good…’
And I was running around opening and closing windows…
And he was disturbed by this and he came over to me and he said: ‘Ah, my son, I have created such a problem for you…’
And I said to him: ‘no Geronda, it was my joy to serve you…’ and then he looked at me and he goes:
‘Do you know why God put your eyes right there?’
The word for personal is ‘prosopon’, ‘prosopikí schési’, a personal relationship… ‘Prosopon’ is the face… It is me looking at you and seeing what you need.
It is when a wife would go to her husband and would say: ‘wait a minute, honey, you tie needs fixing!’ or ‘you have a smudge on your face’.
A personal relationship, needing each other…”