Category Archives: love

When others slept…

BY NIGHT WHEN OTHERS SOUNDLY SLEPT

By night when others soundly slept
And hath at once both ease and Rest,
My waking eyes were open kept
And so to lie I found it best.

I sought him whom my Soul did Love,
With tears I sought him earnestly.
He bow’d his ear down from Above.
In vain I did not seek or cry.

My hungry Soul he fill’d with Good;
He in his Bottle put my tears,
My smarting wounds washt in his blood,
And banisht thence my Doubts and fears.

What to my Saviour shall I give
Who freely hath done this for me?
I’ll serve him here whilst I shall live
And Love him to Eternity.

-Anne Bradstreet

Each day adds its weight.

If your beloved has a birthday this month, or you and your beloved have an anniversary in June, you might especially like this poem.

ON YOUR BIRTHDAY, TODAY

On your birthday, today, there is time to reflect
On the essence of our intimacy,
From a beginning in the spring-tide of youth
To an afterward secured in the distant mist,
And for what reason and to what end it endures.
Each year I feel the consequence, keen
With up-welling of sentiment,
Where new love springs before the old
Has run its course (but its course is never run),
And each day adds its weight to the sum
We bear on that date this day in June,
To solidify with birthdays gone by
In an endless, banquet bequest.
Today we take time out to renew
And revisit the mood of our youthful love.
Tomorrow, with the same tremulous excitement
As beset us when we danced on its eve ‘til dawn
We will wed again.

-Ivan Donn Carswell

Not swallowed up, but infused.

From the archives:

Mother Gavrilia was one of those people I have heard about who know what it is to die to oneself, to “cease to exist,” as she put it. St. Paul wrote about this in his letters, saying, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” You might think that someone for whom this is a reality would lack personality or presence, because if your self is truly swallowed up in Christ, who would you be?

I know this question has come up through the years, talking with various people. It’s been theoretical to those of us who talk, knowing as we have that we ourselves have not advanced very far on that road to “non-existence.” But of course, to be fully in Christ is to be most fully alive, and about the opposite condition Mother Gavrilia also said, “When we lack love, we become corpses, entirely dead.”

She was born in 1897, and was the second woman ever to enter a Greek university, but she said, “One thing is education: that we learn how to love God.” Later she trained in physiotherapy in England and returned to Athens to open her own practice when she was over 50 years old. Several years after (and older still) she traveled to India by herself. She treated lepers and helped the poor everywhere. Then Palestine, East Africa, France, America. She was friendly with Muslims and Hindus and Protestant Christians, but often withdrew from society altogether. As John Brady tells in one account of her life, “Mother Gavrilia’s life obliterated the inane distinctions that we so often make between prayer and service, contemplation and action….The difference was immaterial because the Source was the same.”

Lately I have encountered many  thought-provoking sayings from Mother Gavrilia. Reading them, and about her very active and miraculous life, I get the impression of a bright intellect, a radiantly energetic person, so full of life and light as to make the concept of mere “personality” seem tiresome.

Here is one story in her words that makes a good introduction:

gl-gavrilia-mother-or-gerontissa-gabrielaOnce… some foreign missionary came and said to me, “You may be a good woman, but you’re not a good Christian.”

I said, “Why?”

“Because you have been here so long and you only go about speaking English. What local languages have you learned?”

I said to him, “I haven’t managed to learn any of the local languages, because I travel a great deal from place to place. As soon as I learn one dialect, they start speaking another. I’ve only learned ‘Good morning’ and ‘Good evening.’ Nothing else.”

“Bah, you’re no Christian. How can you evangelize? All the Catholics and Protestants learn all the local dialects in order to . . .”

Then I said, “Lord, give me an answer for him.” I asked it with all my heart, and then I said, “Ah. I forgot to tell you. I know five languages.”

“Really? What are these five?”

“The first is the smile; the second is tears. The third is to touch. The fourth is prayer, and the fifth is love. With these five languages I go all around the world.”

Then he stopped and said, “Just a minute. Say that again so I can write it down.”

With these five languages you can travel the whole earth, and all the world is yours. Love everyone as your own — without concern for religion or race, without concern for anything.

Mother Gavrilia reposed in 1992. Her monastic daughter, with the contributions of others of her spiritual children, wrote the story of her life in the book Ascetic of Love.

Twilight of marketing day.

“St. Paphnutius prayed to God to reveal whom he (Paphnutius) resembled. He heard a voice which spoke to him: ‘You are similar to a merchant who seeks goodly pearls; arise and do not be idle!’ But why does God not say to every one of us that we are like a merchant who seeks goodly pearls? Because many of us do not seek pearls, but rather bury ourselves under heavy layers of worthless dust.

“Not everything that the net raises up from the bottom of the sea is a pearl; sometimes it is only mud and sand. The ignorant vie for that mud and sand as though it were a pearl. Only the merchant who recognizes a true pearl casts the net into the sea an untold number of times. He hauls it up, sifts out the mud and sand, until he finds one seed pearl!

“Why does God compare Paphnutius to a merchant? Because Paphnutius gave away all of his possessions and invested all of his effort and time in order to find that one true seed pearl. That true pearl is a heart cleansed of all passions and evil thoughts and warmed by the flame of love toward God. You too arise, O man, and do not be lazy! Your marketing day is approaching its twilight.”

-St. Nikolai Velimirovich