Healing in all directions.

“There is never a pain as deep as that inflicted by someone who is supposed to love you. Such injuries echo through the years and the generations. The face that stares back at us in the mirror is easily a fractal of someone whose actions power our own insanity. We can hate a parent, only to be haunted by their constant presence in us.”

The first part of Father Stephen Freeman’s post for today, “Every Generation,” is about that dark side of our human connectedness. But the reality of it works positively, also, as we all know, if not from our own families, then from others who might seem to have received a better legacy.

The older I get, the more time I spend considering all of the people who have gone before who have contributed to my physical and/or spiritual well-being. The Orthodox Church trains us in this perspective by bringing us very close to the saints throughout time whose names we do know, and closer to this earthly home, we often remember in our thankful prayers the “founders of this holy temple.”

No doubt the prayers of my Sunday School teachers and other adults protected me as I grew up; the teachers and friends, my parents and grandparents and great-grandparents, aunts and uncles gave me so much, in particular behaviors and actions that must remain in large degree a mystery to us who can only see the outward.

In many cases I’m sure that their gift to their descendants was to struggle… and fail; but having struggled, their defeat was not as much of a failure as it would have been. God only knows how they tried, how hard it was just to keep going day after day. If their minds were ignorant of the significance of their lives to the whole of humanity, they were nevertheless contributing:

“If we inherit a burden within our life, so our salvation, our struggles with that burden, involve not only ourselves but those who have gone before as well as those who come after. We struggle as the ‘Whole Adam’ (in the phrase of St. Silouan).

“There is an Athonite saying: ‘A monk heals his family for seven generations.’ When I first heard this, my thought was, ‘In which direction?’ The answer, I think, is every direction. We are always healing the family tree as we embrace the path of salvation, monk or layman. Our lives are just that connected.”

What does all that have to do with Christ’s mother? In her prophecy Mary said, “All generations shall call me blessed.” There is a lot packed into that statement. As Father Stephen writes:

“In her person we see all generations gathered together. Her ‘be it unto me according to your word’ resounds in the heart of every believer, uniting them to her heart whose flesh unites us to God.”

Read the whole article. I didn’t quote quite all of it! When I started to write this post it was still the Feast of the Dormition of Mary, which is a fitting day to think about these things. Now we have passed liturgically to the next day, but that’s okay, because every day is good to remember family and be thankful.

6 thoughts on “Healing in all directions.

  1. “every day is good to remember family and be thankful” you are so right about this – I often think of those who have gone before me and those who are following in my path. I hope I have done the former proud and that I am providing a sound role model for the latter.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This…oh, how I love this! So much hope, light, and life bound up in this.

    “There is an Athonite saying: ‘A monk heals his family for seven generations.’ When I first heard this, my thought was, ‘In which direction?’ The answer, I think, is every direction. We are always healing the family tree as we embrace the path of salvation, monk or layman. Our lives are just that connected.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is one of my favorite icons. It is one part of the whole icon of Dormition cropped out. You can see the same image of Christ holding the Theotokos in the center of the other icon at the bottom. I refreshed my memory about it just now on Icon Reader’s site, where he says,

      “…the main aspect of the Icon – to which all eyes are inevitably drawn – is the image of Christ in Glory holding the pure soul of Mary in His arms, shown as an infant. The parallel between the image of the God-Man Jesus holding the child-like soul of Mary and the image of the Mother Mary holding the Christ-child in her own arms is, of course, deliberate.” Don’t you love the poetry in the Orthodox tradition?

      That quote is from this post in which he tells the whole story: https://iconreader.wordpress.com/2010/08/15/the-dormition-icon-of-hope/

      Like

      1. Yes, I do love that poetic element. I was very surprised to learn about it, starting rather late in life as I did. I have always been moved by poetry, so it came as a blessing to have been encouraged to investigate the Eastern Christian churches.

        Liked by 1 person

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