Once, the young Ephraim was falsely accused of stealing a sheep, and was cast into prison. Two others likewise innocent, were imprisoned after him. “Seven days passed,” the venerable one recounted later in life, “and on the eighth I had a dream in which someone said to me: ‘Be
pious, and thou shalt comprehend the providence of God. Ponder in thy thoughts what thou hast thought and what thou hast done, and thou shalt come to the realization that these men are not suffering unjustly; the guilty cannot elude punishment.’ Later that same night I saw the same person, who said to me: ‘Return to thine own place, and repent of thine unrighteousness, in full awareness that there is an Eye which watcheth over all.’ And having thus threatened me soundly, he withdrew.” Ephraim was faithful to the instruction of the one who had appeared to him. While still in prison, he vowed an oath to dedicate hisMentire life to repentance, and he soon forsook the world and withdrew into the surrounding mountains, where he sought out the hermits who lived there. There he became a disciple of the holy James, who subsequently became the great hierarch of Nisibis tcommemorated January 12th.
A Spiritual Psalter, excerpted by Theophan the recluse.