Aldebaran in God’s cell


God gives meaning, God gives pain
Halo, Porcupine Tree


The moon tonight is like a scar on heaven’s dark skin. A star hangs from its edge, one of those left alone to lament every troubadour’s defeat.

And next to the scar I saw God spreading.


Many years ago, when the sun rose from the East and grass was greener, I found myself in Mount Athos.

I was thinking of Kazantzakis and Sikelianos who wandered in Athos in search of God. Both found him, each in his own way.

I went there on my own research. Perhaps I should be doing more important things, being a blossoming youth. Studying in the university, working, seeking out ways to make money. It wasn’t my style, it isn’t now, so there I was, broken and befuddled, searching for God beyond Athos.


I left behind me the markets and the bazaars, took a tattered Bible and entered the sanctum.

Chrysostom put me up in his cell. And I remember a glorious morning, as the sea was silver-plated by the sun, he saw me buried in the Bible.

“What are you doing?” he asked me.
“I try to understand”
“Understand what?” he chuckled. “Just take a look around you. What else do you need?”

I raised my head and saw the World. No apartment buildings, highways and cars. No delusions and substitutes, all these things created by man to invest on their failure. It was the World naked. Original.

I didn’t understand but I felt a shiver down my spine.


I was a young man then, a shade over the twenties. I had to go back. I had a feeling that somewhere a girl awaited for me, a girl with blooming breasts. And all the world fades before a woman’s scent. Otherwise I might had stayed.


I came back, I fell in love and felt loved, and then I attempted to enter the human sanctum.
I haven’t made it, yet. I can’t figure out the way it works.
There are nights, such as this one, when I ask God if he knows, if he has a clue.

I ask him, why should we suffer.
No answer.
I ask him, why should we die.
No answer.
I ask him, why are people drowning.
No answer.

If he could talk, I know what he would say.
“This world, is the world of men.
When you were close to me I asked you, what do you prefer? Immortality or freedom?
Angels chose immortality. Humans chose freedom.
Angels can’t choose between Good and Evil. That’s why they are immortal.
Humans can choose. That’s why they die.”

“That’s why they kill” I told him.
No answer.


We walked into the woods with Chrysostom and he showed me wild-boar tracks. Somewhere we spotted a cave in the mountain.

“A hermitage” he told me. “An old man lived there”.
“What did he do?” I asked.
“He died” he answered me.


The last night before I leave Athos, I remembered the following Buddhist tale.

A youth had become a novice monk. He had passed all the trials but could not forget a girl back in the village.

He went to the master and asked him: “ Master, what should I do? Become a monk or go back to the village and get married?”
The master was chewing pumpkin seeds with his few remaining teeth. He spat the shells and replied:
“Whatever you do, you will regret it”


The moon looks like a pumpkin seed and Aldebaran hangs from its edge.

Perla the dog, chews on a piece of wood, as if she was a wise man.

Somewhere people are drowning, somewhere people get rich and somewhere a child dreams of peace.

The sun keeps rising from the east, in the world of men.

And God lies in his cell, without ever giving an answer.


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Translated by Alexandros Mantas 

Edited by Polytimi

Photo by Zbigniew Kosc