I took a short break from answering emails, tweeting, and other things related to my work over the last couple of days. I took a cursory glance at Ask.fm, but even this taxed me. I’ve been in a pensive state, considering many things at this most holy time when we remember the resurrection of our Lord and our liberation from the bondage of the devil.
It has been warm here, and mornings feel like they drag into the afternoon. The small Orthodox church is located near the seafront, and as I walk the distance to it I am always annoyed by the fact that my present situation cannot permit me to be closer. Then maybe I think back to the early days of Christianity, when churches might have been miles and miles from people’s homes and reflect that the walk itself is a spiritual exercise of sorts. I expect my spiritual life will be allowed to settle once I am done with my higher education.
Recently Adam Wallace had mentioned something about how mood and motivation comes in a kind of cycle, that we fall into periods of despondency or contemplative stupor, and then a month later pull ourselves out of them. I’m not deep into one of those, the best I can tell, but something about this time has made me more introspective than active in my own disposition. I expect this will have cleared itself up within a week, judging by how strong it is, but a heavy weight presses down upon me. Relieving the strain is the thought of the cross, of a protective shroud that is laid over a martyr as over a priest as over a faithful labourer, bathing them in white. And yet I feel as if this veil has not fully settled itself over me, that an ugly grey still permeates my vision. It is not so much that I feel the need to escape this, but to understand it fully, to see through it. Perhaps my feeling has been that if I understand why things are as they are, only then can I have no doubts about the way God wishes them to be.
When a martyr looks his executioner in the eyes, he is to see through the flesh and bone, through the soul that pilots them, and into the face of what lies behind, what lies at the heart of evil. He sees it in an instant, and is sanctified by that instant. It is with full knowledge of his death and his rejection of its profanity that death itself is made sacred; diamonds from coal. But who has the luxury of a martyr? Who grips that particular key to eternity in his hands, and knows it for sure before the hour strikes, knows at once that he will be martyred but also knows that his faith will endure to the end?
To the rest, faith does not crown our lives in a bloody climax, but through an arduous theosis that makes demands, that sets trials before us to try our weaknesses and test our aptitudes. They send all manner of things from the agents of counter-initiation who attempt to deceive us for their own insincere reasons, to the wages of apathy, laziness, and restlessness. We are brought to the prideful belief that our enjoyment is our gain, and that when death comes it will be a grave injustice placed upon our innocent heads. When we think in these terms, the grey mist has dimmed considerably to the point where nothing can be seen beyond it, and what was fog becomes choking smoke. When we effectively combat these influences, what is it that we see beyond the grey mist of horizontal thought, all of those considerations that we are confronted with by Modern life? The cross. What else? What else so perfectly encapsulates the vertical world which we come to from many directions and disciplines. It is at times like this when I can appreciate how much of that verticality remains obscure for me. Part of it has been lit by my pursuits with which you are familiar, but most of it lies over the boundary of the professional and deep into the personal. Theosis is a journey with many legs, and I am thankful for these low points of my personal cycle because they remind me of the fact; I’m still searching.
“What makes the problem of Existence so complex is that God shows through everywhere since nothing could exist outside Him; the whole object is never to be separated from this distant perception of the Divine. And this is why enjoyment in the shadow of the cross is conceivable and even inevitable; to exist is to enjoy, even though at the foot of the cross. This is where man must keep himself since such is the profound nature of things; man can violate this nature only in appearance. Suffering and death are none other than the cross reappearing in the cosmic flesh; Existence is a rose signed with a cross.”
– Frithjof Schuon
Paschal blessings to all my readers
May God be with you and yours