People go to Mt. Athos – The Holy Mountain – in Greece for many reasons, to visit or even become monks and live the quiet life of reflection. They go to escape the material world, briefly or forever, to find God or themselves, to retreat within and find answers in retrospection in hopes of getting closer to fine.
Father Ioanikios gave up the good life in Manhattan, living large in the country where, as a Greek he had become an American citizen, roaring around in his 20s, working for Mobil Oil in New Jersey, commuting there from his apartment on 32nd Street between Madison and Fifth Avenues.
He had gotten his Master’s Degree in economics and all the world was his oyster but he wanted a pearl and said he found it on Mt. Athos, telling the tale to Simon Critchley, an English philosopher who teaches the subject as a Professor at New York City’s New School for Social Research.
Critchley was doing a philosophical tour of Athens and Greece, writing eight pieces about it for The New York Times, and had already been to Plato’s Academy and Aristotle’s Lyceum but said on Mt. Athos he met, in Father Ioanikios, “The Happiest Man I’ve Ever Met.”
Father Ioanikios told Critchley when he was living in Manhattan that he had a small icon of the Virgin Mary to which he would pray before going to sleep, even if he was, a bit hypocritically, a tad tipsy from drinking too much and indulging in worldly pleasures while seeking absolution, if not Absolut too. He was set.
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