Tag Archives: St. Paisios of Mt. Athos

The world that lives in me – and us.

Pippin once upon a time.

“I wish you many years — but not for them to be too happy, because happiness in the world isn’t really so healthy. When a man is too happy in this world, he forgets God and forgets death.” 

— Elder Paisios 

It is customary in the Orthodox Church to wish people “Many years!” or to sing the whole hymn, “God grant you many years…” (x3 of course) on any happy occasion such as an anniversary or birthday. Three birthdays of my children and grandchildren are coming up this week and next, so the quote is timely.

We visited our favorite apple ranch.

 

 

In the last ten days Soldier’s family and I did not think much about death, we were so happy together. Still, we didn’t forget God for long periods, because we know to Whom to be thankful. The children and their liveliness was the focus of our attention. When fear grips our hearts over what deathliness they will have to encounter in the future, we try to pray….

They departed yesterday, and I don’t know when I’ll see them again. Kate and Tom are in Panama, very securely quarantined there for their jobs, I’m afraid. I see their family on FaceTime. I don’t plan to visit Pearl in Wisconsin in the next months, because I already went there in fall and winter, and would like to experience that part of the country in a different season next time.

Pathfinder is in the middle of smoke; no one would want to go there unnecessarily. It’s kinda smoky where Pippin is, too, but I hope to go next week anyway, to be with Ivy for her birthday; I missed it last year.

Picking raspberries in Mr. and Mrs. Bread’s garden.

Pippin brought her three down last weekend to see their cousins.
The kids gathered around the Lego bin right away.

We went to the beach again,
a different one with lots of marine plants to identify.


The sky was not orange that time.

Turkish Towel on the right.
Grape Tongue kelp
Chain Bladder Kelp and Ostrich Plume Hydroid

One of those nights at bedtime Ivy asked me to fasten her nightgown in the back — the one I originally made for Aunt Kate decades ago — but only one of the three buttons could reach its buttonhole. Next morning we agreed that I would sew her a new nightgown, and we sat browsing flannel prints at my desktop; she started with the idea of a pink flowered nightie, but when she saw the cats, she changed her mind. I ordered the cat fabric.

“The Socialist saw plainly the rights of the Society; the Anarchist saw the rights of the Individual. How therefore were these

— Robert Hugh Benson

Liam found a California Sister butterfly (some might know it as “Arizona Sister”!) and when Ivy said, “Can I have it?” he let it crawl onto her hand.

“One should never direct people towards happiness, because happiness too is an idol of the marketplace.  One should direct them towards mutual affection. A beast gnawing at its prey can be happy too, but only human beings can feel affection for each other, and this is the highest achievement they can aspire to.”

— Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Also while six grandchildren were on the premises, four of them helped Soldier to stack a cord of oak firewood. I had on hand children’s gloves for such a time as this. Even four-year-old Brodie was a willing worker who did not tire easily; he lugged logs for quite a while before he even interrupted his flow to put shoes on.

My son shopped all over town with me, considering which wood stove I should buy to replace my current one that is dying. It was so helpful to have help in choosing such a big item. It’s scheduled to be installed before winter.

“The family is the test of freedom;
because the family is the only thing that the free man makes
for himself and by himself.”

— G.K. Chesterton

Recently I got the bright idea to do as my grandfather had done when I was in my teens: Once when we were visiting him he told us four children, of whom I was the oldest, that we might take home and keep any four books from his vast shelves. I still own my four books. My own shelves are loaded with titles that I know my grandchildren of various ages would enjoy, but they aren’t ever around long enough to think of perusing  the shelves.

Previously gifted.

So I told them the same this week, Please take as many as four books home with you. Two immediately wanted Socks for Supper.

The younger children who aren’t fluent readers needed some help to choose books that they didn’t already have at home, but in the end everyone took at least one. No one took four, which was interesting; maybe they aren’t developing their grandmother’s book gluttony. Does it surprise you that I just ordered replacements for two of the books they took?

Jamie’s pick.

Scout carried off dog stories by Albert Payson Terhune, and a cookbook. Liam took Finn Family Moomintroll, Rockinghorse Secret, and The Five Sisters, which I recently bought but hadn’t read. Laddie settled on The Pig in the Spigot, even though the illustrations are weird, we all agree.

“A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.”  -C.S. Lewis

One of the last jobs we worked on together was dehydrating a few of the apples that we’d bought at the farm. I cored them, two boys sliced, and one arranged the slices on the trays. The fruit dried all through the night and the rings were packed into bags to take on their journey home. Good-bye! Good-bye! and Godspeed!

“You can kiss your family and friends good-bye
and put miles between you,
but at the same time you carry them with you
in your heart, your mind, your stomach,
because you do not just live in a world
but a world lives in you.”

Frederick Buechner

We would have been destroyed.

“The good thing is that God does not abandon us. Our Good God is guarding the world with both hands. In the past, He used only one. Today we face so many dangers….”

“Things are really bad… May God help us! It is like a mother whose children have all kinds of problems. One is cross-eyed, another is slow, and yet another is difficult to handle. Then on top of that, she has to care for the neighbors’ children so that they don’t climb up somewhere and fall down, or find a knife and get cut, or hurt one another. And she must be constantly on the watch, vigilant and attentive, while they have no sense of her anguish and worry. It’s the same with our world. People do not understand that it is God Who is helping us. With all the dangerous devices available to us, we would have been destroyed many times were it not for His help….”

“If you only knew how much the devil hates humanity and wants to annihilate us! How easily we forget who our enemy is! Do you know how many times the devil has wrapped his tail around the world and tried to destroy it? But God has not allowed it. He ruins his plans. When the devil tries to cause harm, God takes the evil and turns it into good. The devil may be ploughing the field now, but in the end it is Christ Who will sow the seeds.”

-St. Paisios of Mount Athos

Spinning out of control.

“In all nations, storms are gathering; minds are confused. May God save this poor world of ours that is blowing steam like a pressure cooker! Look at those in power! The schemes they come up with! They throw it all into a pressure cooker and leave it, boiling and boiling; the cooker is whistling now! The steam valve is ready to explode!”

“We have not yet realised that the devil has set out to destroy God’s creation and all His creatures. He has put together an alliance to destroy the world… He has become even more vicious now because he knows that he has but a short time. (cf. Revelation 12:12.) He resembles a criminal, who, when surrounded, thinks to himself, ‘There is no way out; they will get me,’ and he starts destroying everything around him. Or, he is like soldiers at war who, having run out of ammunition, draw their bayonets or swords and start slashing away at everything because they have nothing to lose. They say, ‘We are going to die anyway; let’s get as many of the enemy as we can.'”

“Wherever one turns, one thing is clear: things are falling apart! It’s not, for example, that we have a house, and we need to fix a window or something else. No, here it is an entire house that is in shambles — worse yet, the entire village. Things are spinning out of control. Only God can step in and stop it…. The world has an inflamed wound, full of pus, that needs to be opened and treated. But it’s too soon to open it now; evil must first run its course as it did back in Jericho (cf. Joshua 6.), a long time ago.”

-St. Paisios of Mt. Athos, 1924-1994
From With Pain and love for Contemporary Man

The elder’s pain and love.

I don’t know who all will be in my class when my parish’s church school program begins again next month. But I think I know what I’ll be teaching, and it includes gleanings from this book that I haven’t read yet, With Pain and Love for Contemporary Man. The arrangement of our classes and students and how and where they will meet is one more realm of decisions that has been affected by the coronavirus situation, and that is why I didn’t know until this week to get busy and start reading; I had expected to be using a different curriculum.

This big book was first published in Greek in 1996, as the first of several volumes of the monk’s teachings. Over the course of 28 years his spiritual counsels were carefully recorded in notes and on tape, by the sisterhood of St. John the Theologian monastery in Souroti, for whom he was a guide and helper. In the preface they tell about his response at the beginning of their project:

“When Elder Paisios realised what we were doing, he was rather irritated: ‘Why are you taking notes?’ he asked. ‘Are you saving them for an emergency? You should put my words into practice; put them to work! Who knows what you are saying in these notes! Let me see them.’ When we showed him a sample, particularly the notes of one Sister, his expression changed. He seemed comforted and reassured, and exclaimed with satisfaction, ‘My goodness! She is like a tape recorder! She wrote it exactly as I said it!'”

St. Paisios of Mount Athos: InjusticeThis man, who in 2015 the Orthodox Church formally recognized as a saint, was in 1924 born Arsenios Eznepidis, in Cappadocia in Asia Minor. This was just after the Greco-Turkish war, and just before those governments mutually agreed upon a population exchange that forced more than a million people to become refugees; his family was among them, and they moved to Greece. You can read all about his life here: St. Paisios, and in other articles and books. I just wanted to tell you a little bit in introduction, because I’m planning to share at least a few quotes from the saint as I go. For now I will leave you with this that I found elsewhere:

“What I see around me would drive me insane
if I did not know that no matter what happens,
God will have the last word.”

— Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain
1924-1974