Soldiers on the Holy Mountain (For Sava, Archbishop)

The prince had abandoned his family, they thought,
Leaving his country to live among priests.
Eager to bring him back to his duty,
To mother and father and nation in wait,
They ascended the holy mountain to find
Him there in a vigil of prayer.

What were their hopes when they came to the church?
Would their arms and their might overwhelm him?
But long were the prayers and their bodies weighed down,
Dragged down to sleep with exhaustion.
While they slept, he took vows, and gave them his clothes
When they woke, as a gift to his parents.

How swift, that shedding of clothes like a skin,
Discarding of past life’s layers.
But how did it seem to these soldiers in arms,
That shedding of duty for duty,
Exchanging the home of a king for the house
Of a king with no earthly kingdom?

They went down the mountain, the memento of clothes
In their arms as they walked in their failure,
Preparing a speech, no doubt, in the heads:
Excuses for sleeping on duty.
But Sava now bore on his head all the signs
That he bowed to a Lord who was higher.

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