ATHEISTS MET ORTHODOXY
HIPPIES MET ORTHODOXY
Klaus Kenneth, Germany: Born to Hate, Reborn to Love
From Hippies, atheism, Hinduism, Buddhism & Protestantism to Orthodoxy
(English – Greek)
EDELWEISS OF MY HEART
ATHEISTS MET Orthodoxy
HIPPIES MET Orthodoxy
Klaus Kenneth, Germany
Two million kilometers in search
From hippies, atheism, Buddhism, Hinduism
and Protestantism to Orthodoxy
Twelve years drew the Swiss publicist Klaus Kenneth in search of spirituality, peace and love through Europe, Asia and South America. The road was dangerous and full of disappointments, hate, drugs and death. Empty and disappointed by philosophies, teachings and religions Kenneth returned, and found the truth in the Orthodox Church. His long journey towards a church he wrote in his life story, “two million kilometers in search” down.
HIPPIES MET ORTHODOXY
ROMAN CATHOLICS MET ORTHODOXY
LATIN AMERICA OF MY HEART
Photos: Fr. Simeon de la Jara
Father Simeon de la Jara from Peru:
On a righteous path from Peru to Mount Athos, Greece
AMERICA OF MY HEART
When Miguel Angel de la Jara Higgingson was seven, his mother had a vision. She sensed that her son would some day leave her for a “far away place, like an island, there where people of solitude lived who pray all the time and rarely step out into the world”. Even she, however, could probably not have imagined just how far from his native Peru, both physically and spiritually, his life’s search would take him.
Now he is Father Simeon the hermit, an Orthodox Christian monk of Eastern Orthodox Church who lives on Mount Athos, a self-administrating, all-male monastic community on the Athos peninsula – the eastern most of three jutting peninsulas in the northern Greek prefecture of Halkidiki in Greece.
However, it’s not just his Peruvian origins that make Father Simeon such a well-known figure among visitors to Mount Athos; it’s also his radiant presence as an artist, poet and painter that makes him so sought after, especially by the young.
His journey began in 1968, when at the age of 18 he left Peru to discover the world. After travelling through Europe and Asia for over two years – during which time he was exposed to eastern philosophies and religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism and yoga – he finally settled in Paris, where he lived for the next three years.
It was in Paris that he first met a Greek Orthodox monk and learned about Orthodoxy, a meeting that was to have a profound effect on him. For the next two and a half years he studied hagiography (icon painting) with Leonide Ouspensky, while his interest in Orthodoxy deepened.
He first visited Greece in 1972, where he accepted the Orthodox faith, before returning to stay in 1973, originally joining the monastery of Agios Georgios (St George) on the large Greek island of Evia. When, in 1974, the entire monastery relocated to Agios Grigorios (St Gregory) on Mount Athos, Simeon followed, living at the Agios Grigorios Monastery until 1987. He subsequently became a hermit, moving to the old hermit’s cell of Timios Stavros near the Stavronikita monastery, where he built a new dependency and formed a complex.
On first meeting Father Simeon, one is struck by his youthful passion and joy – qualities which, as he says, “one cannot hide”. A compassionate listener and gentle speaker, he responds to questions with spontaneity and rigour, without ever becoming dogmatic or distant. Behind his piercing eyes is an inquisitive mind, forever seeking ways to express the love and joy he wants to share with others.
After 24 years in Greece, Father Simeon declares a profound love and admiration for Greek culture and language, saying he prefers writing in Greek to even his native Spanish. To his extensive travels he owes a rich and varied experience, as well as a love of French Surrealism, tatami mats, Japanese food and Chinese art. And to his Peruvian family he owes his love of art.
According to Simeon, it is the need to tap into the inner joy in all things which has led him to art and prayer; that has been the predominant force in his life. Through poetry, paintings, photographs, prayers and lectures he has reached out and tried to touch people’s hearts beyond the borders of the Holy Mount.
He has several published works, including his 1985 lecture “Nifalios Methi” (Sober Drunkenness), the 1983 publication”The Holy Mountain Today” brought out by Alexandria Press in London andthe poetry collection “Simeon Mnema”, published in 1994. A new book of poetry, entitled “Me Imation Melan” (In Black Cloth), is due to be broughtout shortly by Agra Editions in Athens.
An artist in solitude as much as a solitary, a monk, in the midst of art, his poems and his paintings have both the freshness of the “here and now” and the depth of eternity, and are of a striking immediacy and poise. They make one wonder what the difference between the artist and the hermit is – or even if there is one at all.
ORTHODOXY IS LOVE
HIPPIES MET ORTHODOXY
ATHENS OF MY HEART
Saint Porphyrios of Athens & Kafsokalivia, Greece (+1991) once said:
One day a hippie visited me. He was dressed in something colorful, strange clothes, and wore an amulet and jewelery, and he asked to see me. The nuns were worried, so they came and asked me, and I told them to have him enter. As soon as he sat across from me, I could see his soul. He had a good soul, but was wounded which was why he was a revolutionary.
I spoke to him with love and he was moved. “Elder”, he said, “nobody until today has ever spoken to me like this.” I had told him his name, and he was confused as if I knew him. “Well,” I told him, “God revealed your name and that you travelled as far as India where you met a guru and you followed him.” He was in even greater wonder. I told him other things about himself, and he left pleased. The next week he arrived with a group of hippies.
They all gathered together within my cell and sat around me. A girl was also with them. I liked them very much. They were good souls, but wounded. I did not speak to them about Christ, because I saw they weren’t ready to hear of it. I spoke their own language about topics that interested them. When we were finished and they got up to leave, they told me: “Elder, we would like a favor: allow us to kiss your feet.” I was embarrassed, but what could I do, I allowed them. After they gave me a blanket as a gift. I will call for it to be brought, so you can see it. It’s very nice. After a time the girl visited me, the hippie, by herself. They called her Maria.
I saw that Maria was more advanced in her soul than her friends and she was the first I spoke to about Christ. She received my words. She has come other times, and has taken a good path. Maria also told her friends: “Hey naughty children, I would never have imagined that I would come to know Christ through hippie friends.”
Saint Porphyrios of Athens,
Oropos & Kafsokalivia, Greece (+1991)
On Tuesday, November 27, 2013, the Sacred and Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate decided the formal inclusion in the List of Saints of the Orthodox Church of elder Porphyrios of Kafsokalivia.
Feast Day of Saint Porphyrios of Kafsokalivia: December 2nd.