The Jesus Prayer

Washin' and Invokin'

Washing your hands. It's all the rage. OCD Nirvana.

And you're not just supposed to wash them frequently. You're supposed to wash them long. Frequent and long, like visits from the in-laws or Oscar Wilde's bouts with syphilis.

You're supposed to wash them for 20 seconds. Alternatively, you can sing the "Happy Birthday" song, which takes 20 seconds.

Or . . .

You can say The Jesus Prayer five times. The Jesus Prayer takes three seconds. If you pause one second after each one, you'll get to 20 seconds.

"Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner." Pause. Repeat. Five times.

You'll then be disinfecting and invoking the spiritual strength of Mt. Athos, which is the manliest place on earth. Literally. Women aren't allowed on the peninsula. My former heroes in this regard, Augusta National, gave up that fight in 2012 and the Alphabet People have taken away locker rooms and even toilets. For manly places, that leaves the drivers seat in my car, the 4Chan bulletin board, online gaming rooms . . . and Athos.

Unlike the others, Mt. Athos has a long tradition. I won't recount it here (the Wikipedia entry is fine). It's enough to note that it brought us the spiritual tradition of hesychasm; development of the Jesus Prayer; an army of monks; that stunning treasury of spirituality, The Philokalia; and the charming Russian classic, The Way of a Pilgrim, which in turn inspired that modern classic of literature, J.D. Salinger's Franny & Zooey.

Like I said, a venerable tradition.

"Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner." Pause. Repeat. Five times.

Eric Scheske

Eric Scheske