A Refuge in the Storm

bird in distress orthodox city hermit in desolation and sorrow

 

Feeling like a hunted bird that wants to fly into God’s embrace through prayer of the heart. A most difficult week! Marked by the loss of my father and by difficult family matters. Alone and desolate. In need of a refuge in the storm to collect my thoughts, to heal … St Porphyrios offers such consolation to my soul:

 

“After years had passed, and while I was still in Evia, I wanted to find a new place to collect my thoughts, like a hunted bird that wants to fly into God’s embrace through prayer of the heart. I was alone and desolate.

I went to Vatheia in Evia, to the Monastery of Saint Nicholas, and I stayed there for ten days. It had some tumble-down cells full of large mice. But what happened? For two days there was a great storm and heavy seas. It rained unceasingly and the rain hammered on the walls and rattled against the windows as if it were hail. The wind howled furiously up in the huge plane tree. I heard its branches hitting against one another. The storm raged relentlessly there in the utter wilderness. All the elements of nature were roaring. And I was inside the poor, tiny, fresco-covered church of Saint Nicholas – a church sanctified many times over years before by the souls which I saw and sensed were bending down before the saints and unlocking their hearts.

 

There, in the wilderness, in the cold north wind, I was like a hunted little bird of the air. Imagine, what would a little bird caught in such a storm have done? Wouldn’t it have sought to find a little nest, some cave to hide in? I did the same amidst the uproar and the storm, terrified by the elements of nature. I ran to find refuge; I ran to hide myself in the embrace of my heavenly Father. I sensed the pleasant warmth of Christ, my union with God. I felt great joy and exaltation and relief hiding myself away in God. I was unconcerned about the storm and the tempest, which are things of the world. My soul sought something higher, more perfect. I felt safe, comforted and at rest. I spent golden days there. I took advantage of a spell of dreadful weather.

That’s how we should think always. And that’s how we should live through difficulties and tragedies. We should see them all as opportunities for prayer, for approaching God. That’s the secret: how the man of God will transform everything into prayer. That’s what Saint Paul the Apostle means when he says, I rejoice in my sufferings, in all the tribulations he encountered. This is how sanctification takes place. May God grant this to us. I ask for this fervently in my prayer.”
Wounded by Love, pp. 47-48, Elder Porphyrios
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