IN THE DESOLATE TIME
Friend, in the desolate time, when your soul is enshrouded in darkness
When, in a deep abyss, memory and feeling die out,
Intellect timidly gropes among shadowy forms and illusions
Heart can no longer sigh, eye is unable to weep;
When, from your night-clouded soul the wings of fire have fallen
And you, to nothing, afraid, feel yourself sinking once more,
Say, who rescues you then?—Who is the comforting angel
Brings to your innermost soul order and beauty again,
Building once more your fragmented world, restoring the fallen
Altar, and when it is raised, lighting the sacred flame?-—
None but the powerful being who first from the limitless darkness
Kissed to life seraphs and woke numberless suns to their dance.
None but the holy Word who called the worlds into existence
And in whose power the worlds move on their paths to this day.
Therefore, rejoice, oh friend, and sing in the darkness of sorrow:
Night is the mother of day, Chaos the neighbor of God.
Erik Johan Stagnelius (1793 – 1823) Sweden
Father Michael Gillis describes himself as a grumpy old man who struggles to stay near to God; he evidently succeeds enough to be able to report, in his latest blog post, “…I think God loves so much those who reach out to Him that he tricks me into saying something to help them.”
He shares portions of an email exchange with a young woman who is discouraged at always having to confess the same sins. Why isn’t God changing her? I found it encouraging: “Just” Waiting on God.
“The great medicine is for you to devote yourself
to worship of Christ.
Everything is healed.
Everything functions normally.
The love of God transforms everything;
it sanctifies, amends and changes the nature of everything.”
-St. Porphyrios of Mt. Athos
A Short Testament
Whatever harm I may have done
In all my life in all your wide creation
If I cannot repair it
I beg you to repair it,
And then there are all the wounded
The poor the deaf the lonely and the old
Whom I have roughly dismissed
As if I were not one of them.
Where I have wronged them by it
And cannot make amends
I ask you
To comfort them to overflowing,
And where there are lives I may have withered around me,
Or lives of strangers far or near
That I’ve destroyed in blind complicity,
And if I cannot find them
Or have no way to serve them,
Remember them. I beg you to remember them
When winter is over
And all your unimaginable promises
Burst into song on death’s bare branches.