San Giovani Evangelista, art by Lorenzo Costa (1480 – 1485 circa) Accademia Carrara Bergamo.
Here is an excerpt from the book ‘The Way of the Dreamcatcher’
Spirit Lessons with Robert Lax: Poet, Peacemaker, Sage.
By S.T. Georgiou.
Robert, it’s been said that you eventually left Marseille and later went on to Greece and Patmos because of a “sign” you saw in your room. Over your bed there was an icon of St. John the Divine writing his Revelation. This image prompted you to start thinking of Patmos and the famous cave wherein John experienced his vision.
That’s a true story. And up there on my wall, among all the other pictures and postcards, is a copy of that very icon. The original is from an illustrated manuscript of the fifteenth century.
Oh yes, there’s St. John writing his Apocalypse.
And the fact that he’s writing also led me to believe that Patmos would be a good place to write and meditate.
So Patmos was love at first sight?
Definitely. Things were clearer here, much more real, rooted, you might say. No distractions. Excellent climate, at least for most months. A fertile, unfolding quiet. Beautiful, inspiring light. Something about the light – so many tones, hues beaming into the soul. And there was also a classical influence as well. It was a ruggedly Homeric place ringed by a “wine dark sea.”
What was it that you found holy here? The site must have certainly impressed you since you had previously gone to such inspiring locales as the Virgin Isles, the Canary Isles, and a number of the islands of Italy and Greece.
Many people who visit say that there is an ominous feel to the place as your boat approaches, but not in a bad way. There’s just a certain feeling that something spiritually significant is here, waiting to reveal itself in its own good time. When I first came I strongly felt the power of St. John’s cave as well as the great monastery and that whole area up there, but it was really the Cave of the Apocalypse that moved me.
You sound like the islanders — they’re very ” cave conscious. ”
Yes, the cave has been a magnet for all the Patmians since the days of St. John. In fact, St. John’s association with the cave has permeated the whole psychology of the people here. It has made them loving, gentle, wise. I’ve found that they never say a word in any situation that doesn’t emanate from a pure trust, a deep spiritual centre of which the cave is a part. So many times I’ve heard, “Epomoni” (Patience), “Oti theli o Theos” (Whatever God wants) and “Doxa si o Theos” (Glory be to God). Everything seems to be right here for a good rapport with the Creator. The men, women and children have a solid spiritual foundation nurtured by the sanctity of the isle and by their forefathers.
On top of that, they are always reminded of the high ideals of their classical and Byzantine ancestors. I mean, Socrates “Know thyself,” which many of the locals echo, is a good start for anyone.
So you feel Patmos is truly a sacred site, a blessed zone? Is there a unique energy here? A cosmic pulsing?
I certainly would not be inclined to doubt it. The sun, moon and stars seem to shine right into you. Yes, I very much believe the people are blessed simply by being here. Grace seems to flow here. You can’t help but sense the love of God. The gates of Patmos are as wide as the heart, open to all.
What did you feel when you first came to this holy isle?
A timeless serenity. Generative silence. Awe. The quiet imposed by the volcanic mountains and stones, a real love moving over the face of the waters. In a more familial sense, I did feel like someone might if they had run into their long-lost parents or grandparents — as if everything you’ve heard in your life, up till then, had just been an echo of something that all along had been planted right here. And the echoes of that something could still be heard. . .
It’s interesting how when St. John came here, he emphasized the need to love. “Just love one another, ” he would say. So we are meant to form relationships, to network. One star can’t illuminate the whole night sky. Constellations have to form.
Patmos then seems to be a model for harmonious living, a kind of cosmic school of higher learning.
I do believe that very much — it’s a wholesome place that naturally fosters self-discovery and genuine agape. There’s a living tradition here. I felt a great wave of peace when I came to Patmos, and I still sense these peaceful rhythms. Things are free-flowing here. The sunlight writes on the water, and the waters wave in the light. Even the birds seem to fly in a more peaceful way, as if they know that they are loved. Animals are like children because they know when they are loved, and when they are not.
Look far back,
look infinitely on.
Penetrate, do not appraise.
Behold all things
with the innocence of light.
Laugh when you meet a stranger;
let your glances flash together
like water in sunlight.
~ Robert Lax
Happy Feast of Saint John The Evangelist!
The Disciple whom Jesus Loved, St. John The Divine, St. John The Theologian,
pray for us!