Α short piece I wrote for a scholarship application...slightly edited.
(Fr. Justinius, the αγιοταφιτης of Jacob's Well)
It all happened very quickly. I was standing next to the Well of Sychar in West Bank, Israel. A short little monk strained to slide something onto my tiny wrist. Before I could look down, he mumbled something in Greek—a blessing—and jovially tapped my head a few times. When I finally got my wits about me, I looked down. It was a small black bracelet. Many of the youth who visit him receive these bracelets—“komboskini,” as the Greeks call them. It was a common occurrence, but when it happened to me, I cried.
There is nothing extravagant about it—just 72 tight knots. I know, because I’ve counted them during moments of writer’s block. It is simple, but why is it significant?
He put it on my left hand.
Traditionally, cultures elevate the right hand. Even now, blessings are given or received with it. The left hand—the “sinister” hand—is ignored in matters of importance. I'm left-handed. The monk had placed this “blessing” on my writing hand, not my right hand.
I am a writer and a lover of language. Words are what I do best. The gift he gave me blessed the physical source of all my writing: my left hand.
Of course, the blessing did not magically transform me into an Emerson or an Aristotle. Instead, it reassured me that I was, indeed, on the right path. He broke tradition to show me that I needed to write... what will I write? what should I write? I don't know. I only know that in that tight little room beneath the main church, clouded with the sweet smells of incense and anointing oil, I realized that I must write... something, someday, somewhere, but I must write.