“HOLY GHOST” by RYAN NAPIER

I.

For a little while, he had a name. This was from 1702, when he was born, to 1747, when he died. After that, people called him “the ghost.”

He was born in Salonika, the oldest son of a dye merchant. He stood to inherit the business, but felt himself called to something higher and simpler, so the dye went to his younger brother, and he entered a monastery. He was eighteen when he took his vows, and was given the monastic name Loukas.

Father Loukas never saw his family again: his monastery, Agio Pneuma, was on the island of Phalaris, five hundred miles southeast of Salonika. He remembered his father and mother and brother in his prayers, but he did not miss them. The monastery had given him dozens of new brothers, and together they worked for the glory of God.

Each brother had his place in the life of the monastery: Father Loukas was the beekeeper. He knew his bees, and his bees knew him. They landed on his habit and his face and his hands, and he was not stung. He walked among them, in the stillness of their hum, and it was in these moments that he knew what the scriptures meant by “the peace that passeth all understanding.”

His greatest sin was the little thrill of pride that ran through his chest when pilgrims or the other brothers praised his honey. He told them that it was not his honey: it was the bees’. But in his heart, he did feel that it was his honey, and he was glad to hear others say so. He confessed this to the abbot, and was forgiven. Continue reading