SALT OF THE EARTH: AN ENCOUNTER WITH A HOLY RUSSIAN ELDER&MDASH;ISIDORE OF GETHSEMANE HERMITAGE
Salt of the Earth is the heartwarming biography of Hieromonk Isidore (1814–1908), the great Elder of Gethsemane Hermitage in Russia.
Radiant with Christ-like love and childlike simplicity, Elder Isidore lived in another world, yet kept both feet firmly planted on the ground. He was one of those whom Christ called the salt of the earth (Matt. 5:13)—a repository of the rare otherworldly savor of ancient Christianity.
One glance of his could destroy all human conventions, because he was above the world and enjoyed the highest spiritual freedom. It seemed as if he didn’t walk upon the earth, but was rather suspended by invisible threads to some other land. All of this filled him with an inner lightness. All those who came to him heavily burdened would lose their heaviness. With a light smile, as if playing, he could, with impunity, turn any human conditions of common life into joy.<”
— excerpt from Salt of the Earth
In Salt of the Earth, both the life and personality of Elder Isidore have been captured with remarkable clarity by the Elder’s spiritual son, New Martyr Paul Florensky (†1937). He takes the reader directly into Fr. Isidore’s world, so that by the time the book is finished, the Elder is already a dear friend.
…It is impossible to distinguish his simplicity and love from his detachment to all worldly things. He turned everything upside down and in such a way that it was impossible to find one ounce of self-will or anything ostentatious. His simplicity was an irony and his irony was simplicity itself. He could change all existing conditions in order to allow them to be seen through the window of eternity; and—amazingly enough—he would do this without offending anyone. He would uproot everything in his guests; he would push each one off his pedestal of self-complacency and bring him back down to earth….”
—excerpt from Salt of the Earth
This revised second edition contains additional material on the Elder by Metropolitan Benjamin (Fedchenkov).