A Martyr’s Spirit in Daily Family Life

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A true story by Elder Aimilianos 

“Once, when I was in a hurry to come here to the monastery to speak to you, I took a taxi, so I wouldn’t be late. On the way, I asked the driver:
“Tell me, do you ever get to eat lunch or dinner with your Wife?”
You know what sort of work these drivers have, and how they almost never know when they are going home.
“Every day” he told me, “both lunch and dinner.”
“How do you manage it? What time do you eat?”
“Lunch starts from 10:00 in the morning, and goes till 4:00 in the afternoon, and dinner is from 6:00, often till 2:00 in the morning.”
Do you understand? At 10:00 in the morning, his wife had the meal ready and waited for him, whatever time he arrived so that they could eat together. And in the evening, she waited for him from 6:00, often till 2:00 in the morning. Doesn’t this impress you? This is what martyrdom in life means: a life of love.
Martyrdom in daily life is action done out of love for the other person, making a sacrifice, setting aside one’s own selfish needs for the benefit of another.”

The Church at Prayer, Archimandrite Aimilianos, p 160

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When Christ Found Me in the Himalayas

 

 

 

 

 

 

Impossibility of Aloneness

 

I’m an Orthodox Christian living in Homer, Alaska and experienced Jesus Christ in the Himalayas, in India.

I listen to the heartbeat of rain outside…

Cold, Alaskan fog blowing in off the bay, emerald hills now that autumn is here and summer chased away into the mountains. But a milky white fog spreads over the bay like a silken ghost. I used to visit Trappist monasteries, back when I was Catholic, at the beginning of high school, and searching for a relationship of love. I read plenty of philosophy then to know that knowing isn’t enough, that having a realization in the mind is entirely different from experiencing a revelation of the heart.

I spent two birthdays in the Himalayas…

Traveling along gravel roads that drop deep into icy gulches where the Ganges river rages below not yet packed with the filth and mud and newspapers of villages, not yet carrying remainders of Indians in her current, I found Christ found me. It’s a difficult and strangely compelling atmosphere to confront oneself, – – India, – – sandwiched with black corpses, white snow, pagan fires and virulent animals.

I took a bus north from Delhi. It was crowded, tight and cramped, flies buzzed between my face and the windows smeared with brown slime. It’s so polluted in Delhi, so much coffee-colored smoke, so much steam that you really can’t see the sun. You saw it, a rising orange-reddish ball burning over the horizon fifteen minutes in the morning, but then fifteen minutes slouching back down again, an exhausted head over the mountains.

I grew up Catholic but turned to Buddhism when introduced to a self-hypnosis class at my Catholic high school, experimenting with meditation and ‘mindfulness.’ I experienced serious symptoms of manic depression then, partially because I’d consciously turned away from the Judeo-Christian God, and also because life at home was very, very difficult for me. I grew anxious and got into extremely self-destructive habits, and so Buddhism seemed a perfect door to address – or not address – my turning from God and family, and focusing my energy toward dissolving into a Void, a dissolving bubble on an endless and personless river, Tathāgatagarbha. The element that got me is to dissolve my desire, and abandon my selfhood, in order to avoid suffering. But desire doesn’t seem so bad, especially when it is for love, which requires more than one person, and thereby voids any notion of abandoning self, – – and to love, to truly love, is to give, which may require sacrifice, and suffering – –

So Tibetan Buddhism kept coming up, because the meditation helped calm my anxieties and depression, and because the culture proved highly engaging, what with all her colorful flags, her skulls, and metaphysical explanations of things, – – but what is left, when ‘I’ disappear, and there is no one else for whom a relationship of the heart can exist? Not to mention, what did the experiences of the Gospels, the Cloud of Witnesses, the Holy Church, amount to? I knew nothing of Orthodoxy when I reached into the closet of Buddhism, but in light of it, now, what does it all add up to?

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Joseph in Gangotri, where he met Christ in a cave.

Mindfulness worked as far as cleansing the window, the mind, is concerned, which is important, but then many of its doctrines, – and I explored countless doctrines, – really stop here. Clear sky. But what it did not do, and could not, really, is orient me toward the sun, and the warmth of the sun, and the sunlight – – all religions seem to contain some seed of truth, but fail in witnessing to the Triadic God…and all my destructive habits, and relationships, and every mantra, and yoga, all of which I’ve had my fill…this is how Christ brought me to Him.

Back to the story, I’m in Delhi, on a bus. And after an hour or two of sitting in that cramped, stuffy and urine-soured air you hear the front breaks release, the bus finally stretching her arthritic joints and creak slowly forward. She rolls, head first, toward the busy main road. For fifteen minutes we cough and pop down the road, away from my filthy, but greatly lovable refuge of Manju Ka Tilla, a sort of Tibetan refugee camp criss-crossed with telephone wire, wet and narrow alleyways packed with dogs and diapered babies, and polio. Cobblestone streets and bakeries, copper trinkets and arms, this is the first place on earth I met leprosy, and her sister polio. The beginning of my spiritual warfare.

I usually saw them together, these two, – polio and leprosy – crowding in around a barrel of fiery rags, in the crayon-black darkness hands like chewed-up bread, teeth pencil yellow and cracked. I see a boy attacked by a skinny, vicious-looking dog with long, wet fur and crazy eyes – it looks like a red and yellow fox, – – a tangle of fur and blood and whimper. The taxi cab drivers, waiting on their afternoon customers near the stinking, feathered dumpsters launch after the monster in a terrible raid of madness and darkness. They chase the thing down with bricks loosened from neighboring grocery store steps leaving the boy warm and wet with his own blood, a hound’s tooth broken off inside his leg.

Here is suffering, and personhood, and sacrifice…

He looks young but his face shows no signs of innocence. His dark eyes follow me as I run a few feet away to pick up a bottle of water, then return. We look at each other. His long, dangling arms and fingers started rubbing the area of skin that have broken open and gush a strange, purple fluid.

Wet, mossy feet and the bitter odor of trash hang in the air. Cows streaked with vomit pick through spoiled food and milk cartons nearby at the dumpsters. He waits for a doctor but one never arrives. I don’t know what else to do. The boy looks through me, limping into an alley and disappearing in the terrible darkness.

I will live here a total of five and a half months. I will have arrived here practicing Buddhism and Hinduism for eleven years, and leave Christian…

I thought maybe I’d join a Buddhist monastery, or be discovered by wise sage in the mountains, spend the rest of my life in the Himalayas experiencing exotic mystery and enlightenment. I read dozens of sutras by various Buddhas, had an underlined and well-worn copy of the Bhagavad-Gita and Upanishads, and was reading all the California guys, Bhagavan Das, Ram Das, Krishna Das, and even met most of them, all the 60s ‘hippy’ idols who dropped acid and flew to India to go ‘find the guru.’ I read Be Here Now and did the whole drug scene, but despite all the colorful statues and marijuana and tantra, no matter how ‘empty’ I became, there wasn’t enough and I sensed…how can I say this…something was wrong.

I worked as a wilderness guide for at-risk youth in the sage deserts of Idaho. Teaching primitive skills, meditation and mantra, and working with psychologists to develop methods of emotional and behavioral therapy – – I was chased by a wolf, I killed a rattlesnake. And while out there, – this is in the middle of my life before Christ, – – toward the end of it, actually, – – I began experiencing strange things – not only while traveling through India, but before that, and not only me, but my girlfriend. We saw, and everyone involved with this recipe of mantra, meditation, yoga, – and a lot of it sober, – – we saw shadows and demons, experienced trembling and ungodly anxiety and fear. So I knew something was strange, something was going on. It is not all opinion, all belief, for if I have freewill, and exist outside the body, – and I had plenty experiences where I knew I was more than my body, – – and this is one of the things that helped me dismiss and eventually leave the bag of eastern religions, – in addition to God’s grace, – – that if I am more than my body, and I have free will, and can choose to either accept or reject love, then others can too, and this brought up the issue of good versus evil, of right and wrong.

Was what I was doing, right? Who was I following? Are these things, these deities, just archetypes, and if not, if they are ‘real,’ are they ‘good?’ It like jumping into an ocean and realizing there are many different things floating around in there, harmless creatures, some of them beautiful, and some, in fact, that will attack you, that are poisonous, and the astral life, the spiritual life, is like that. Very quickly, once I got to India, I understood this. And was scared.

The boy with the watermelon disease, his head swollen on a piece of cloth outside my guest room door, a cloud of black flies wriggling over an empty ribcage and hollow eyes, a human Jack-O-lantern, his mother’s long brown arm rung with silver jewelry begging for rupees.

So why did I leave a supportive and beautiful girlfriend behind in Oregon to experience this? I was beginning to mend my relationship with my parents, gain more confidence, and had read Way of the Pilgrim a number of months before, but it was with all my California stuff, and I never saw any relation to that and Orthodoxy, never once asked, where is a church that deepens one’s relationship with the living, loving, Truth? Where truth is a Person, as I’d later read from Father Seraphim Rose?

I’d head up to the mouth of the Ganges River, to Gangotri, – – into a mountain. On my 28th birthday, I listened to the heartbeat of the wind on the cliffs, on the water, and experience not a realization of the mind, though that did happen, sure enough, but only once the heart was struck by a sort of cherubim’s sword in my heart, experiencing a revelation occurring in meeting the living God, Jesus Christ, and myself peeling away from itself.

What can I say?

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After Baptism Into the Holy Orthodox Church

Everything I’d learned, practiced, experienced for all of eleven years poured out from my head, in one ear and out the other, replaced by their approximate Christian terms, fulfilled, actually, and I knew reincarnation is impossible through the resurrection, because I am a self, a soul, and I knew karma is impossible because it operates independently of ‘God’ and there is Divine Intervention, I’ve witnessed it, and experienced it. In the cave, a joyous ache in my heart, and in the cave, no more aloneness, no more aloofness. In the Himalayas, and I mean immediately, like I was zapped, I really met Christ, and was dumb for a moment, and in Eternity I saw in my heart the Person of God as Christ, and I could never, ever be alone. Maybe I’d FEEL alone, sure, (doubtful) but I ought to remember, the impossibility of aloneness. Maybe that should be the title of this letter.

So what happened after? I picked up a Bible and read the thing in a guest house back in Dharamsala, over 12 hours away, and then I’d return to America, after the shaking bus trips and gargantuan ceremonies of burning bodies and yellow and black gods and goddesses, and and I’d fall into the lap of the Orthodox Church, in Eugene, and, I’m only skimming over it now, due to time constraints, and I’d visit St Anthony’s Monastery, in Arizona, and all the monasteries and churches in between, long enough to fill a book, and pray to St Herman who could, by his intercessions, bring me straight to Spruce Island, and to where, kneeling before his relics, find home. In Homer. There is more, but I’ll write later. So much has happened to my heart. Forgive me for rambling, and going on. May the Father of Lights enlighten us, and have mercy on us. Amen.

 

“It is one thing to believe in God, and another to know Him.” + St Silouan

 

By Magnus

February 18, 2013 

Printed in Issue 24

Editors Note: Joseph Magnus now lives in Port Townsend, Washington. He is a writer of children’s books and helps the Father Lazarus Moore Foundation. To visit his blog and read more of his poetry, short stories, and other writings, visit here: Servant of Prayer

Choice

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“Lord, let me come and join you in that land which beckons me, in those fields that I love.”

“No, it is in this town that you must meet me.”

“Lord, I long for the sun and the wilde flowers over there.”

“I only have this black sky and these thorns to give you.”

“But Lord, there is only noise and smoke here.”

“There is something else as well; there is sin.”

“Lord, I would so like to see again the blue water that you knew!”

“Here, hearts are sick and souls are dying in darkness.”

“Lord, I could perhaps stay if you entered into my heart, if you took my hand. But when I see these streets […] my whole being revolts and escapes in thought over there. Must I therefore still stay here, with my sadness and my solitude?”

“My child, is it so difficult to decide? And to walk where I walk?”

*

Lev Gillet, ‘A Monk of the Eastern Church’, “Sunday Letters”, Elisabeth Behr-Sigel, p231

* Specially dedicated to my spiritual father

Therefore Go, Οὖν

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“Our Easter joy is offered in order to be shared with others. … A pious custom among Orthodox Christians is to share with others the light of Christ the moment their candle is lit. This sharing of Christ’s Light highlights the duty of the faithful to evangelise, to spread the Evangelion (Ευ-Αγγέλιον), the Good News of our Lord’s Resurrection, like the Apostles. Our resurrected Lord said: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”  And He added:  “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:18-19). Πορευθέντες οὖν.

So, there is one consequence, one “therefore”, one “οὖν”: Don’t limit yourselves to your own personal salvation and joy; you have a holy responsibility to spread this Evangelion to all those who ignore this Truth. This Hope must not be kept hidden, must not be confined to only one community. This Hope is for all peoples, for the renewal of all mankind.” (Archbishop Anastasios of Albania, Easter Message 2017)

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“A Candle Before the Icon”: Archbishop Anastasios

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“As a young person I had been moved by stories of Father Damian, a Catholic priest who served lepers in Hawaii, and also Albert Schweitzer. I asked myself whatever happened to our missionary tradition in the Orthodox Church? Where were the Orthodox missionaries? What are we doing to share our faith with others? What are we doing to reach all those people who have never heard the Gospel? I realized that indifference to missions is a denial of Orthodoxy and a denial of Christ. How had it happened that a Church called to baptize the nations was so indifferent to the nations? Saint Paul brought the Gospel to Greeks. Who were we bringing it to?”

It was a pivotal question that would shape the rest of his life.

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Indifference to missions is a denial of Orthodoxy and a denial of Christ.

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‘Krishti u ngjall, Zoti eshte me ne, lavdi Zotit!’ — ‘Christ is risen, God is with us, Glory to God!’

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While his official title is Archbishop of Tirana and All Albania, Anastasios has occasionally been called the Archbishop of Tirana and All Atheists. It isn’t a title he objects to. “I am everyone’s archbishop. For us each person is a brother or sister. The Church is not just for itself. It is for all the people. As we say at the altar during each Liturgy, it is done ‘on behalf of all and for all. Also we pray ‘for those who hate us and for those who love us.’ Thus we cannot have enemies. How could we? If others want to see us as enemies, it is their choice, but we do not consider others as enemies. We refuse to punish those who punished us. Always remember that at the Last Judgment we are judged for loving Him, or failing to love Him, in the least person. The message is clear. Our salvation depends upon respect for the other, respect for otherness. This is the deep meaning of the Parable of the Good Samaritan — we see not how someone is my neighbor but how someone becomes a neighbor. It is a process. We also see in the parable how we are rescued by the other. What is the theological understanding of the other? It is trying to see how the radiation of the Son of God occurs in this or that place, in this or that culture. This is much more than mere diplomacy. We must keep our authenticity as Christians while seeing how the rays of the Son of Righteousness pass through another person, another culture. Only then can we bring something special.”

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People look at the difficulties of life here and say to me, ‘How can you stand it? It is so ugly!’ But for me it is so beautiful! It is God’s blessing to be here — not the blessing I imagined but the one I received. …

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“People sometimes ask me about my expectations, but I don’t know about the future! You can only do your job with love and humility. I am not the savior of Albania, only a candle in front of the icon of the Saviour.”

For more insights into Archbishop Anastasios legacy go to “A Candle Before the Icon: Archbishop Anastasios”, from Jim Forest’s book Resurrection of the Church of Albania, WCC Publications

Emotions: A Blessing or a Curse?

A conversation  with Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos 
Father what you have been saying has been a continuous surprise for me, from which I cannot yet recover. How can it be that emotion is also a result of the Fall, or rather that emotion itself is an ill condition?
 
-Emotion is mixed up with the passions of pleasure-loving. It is not completely identified with them, but is imbued by them to a great degree. A healthy man spiritually is a balanced man in all his manifestations. I said earlier that when man’s nous is illumined -when man is at the illumination of the nous- he is not moved by God simply psychologically and emotionally, but has true communion with God. Moreover, he sees in all creation the “causes of beings” -the uncreated governing energy of God. He is not moved emotionally by nature and its beauty, but sees the energy of God in it. As St. Isaac the Syrian says, faith based on theoria -which man attains when he is at the illumination of the nous- “is a gate to the mysteries of God”.
 
I will mention a simple example. St.Diadochos of Photiki says that the introductory joy is one thing and the perfecting joy is another. The first one, being strongly emotional, is mixed with fantasy, “is not devoid of fantasy”, while perfecting joy is associated with humility. Between emotional joy and perfecting joy there is “god-loving sorrow and painless tears”. Emotional joy, which is called introductory, is not entirely rejected, yet we must be led to the perfecting joy. This perfection and cure is achieved through the cross. “By the cross gladness prevails to all world”. Thus within the Church we struggle to transform all emotions as well as everything mundane. The transformation of emotions to genuine and authentic experiences is accomplished by repentance. Repentance leads us from a painful and tragic monologue to a dialogue with the living God. Through repentance, self-condemnation and humility, we transform emotions to spiritual experiences. In this case also holds true what we mentioned about fantasy. The more a person is emotionally ill, the more he reveals the death and darkness of his nous. And the more a person’s emotions are transformed, the more his nous is illumined; he is at the state of illumination. Can you see that the movement of the nous is very important? Can you see that it plays an important role whether the nous follows the movement according to nature or contrary to nature?
 
-Allow me, continued Irene, to ask you to explain even further how the emotions are transformed to spiritual experiences.
 
-I think I referred to the basic points. But since you wish I can expand more on the subject. The Fathers say that in the woman’s soul psychological experiences are connected more with spiritual ones. In other words, many women consider the so-called psychological conditions to be spiritual experiences. They may for example feel an emotional sweetness, while praying, and think that it is the coming of the grace of God. A lot of attention is needed, because at this point many images of fantasy intervene and create the preconditions for serious psychological anomalies.
 
I give you an example. A small girl expresses motherhood by playing with dolls. She feeds them, washes them, puts them to sleep, etc. When, however, she grows up and becomes a real mother, she does all these things undergoing pain. She feels pain to give birth to the child and pain and toil to bring it up. The little girl expresses motherhood, and, I could say, enjoys it emotionally, without pain and suffering, whereas becoming a mother for a woman is connected with pain and suffering; it is a “cross”. It is in this way somehow that we distinguish emotional joy from spiritual joy, emotions from spiritual experiences. Only true and complete repentance can cleanse all these psychological states and make them spiritual. And, naturally, it is our spiritual father who helps us with this; it is he who has the responsibility of distinguishing and curing this condition. In this way and with the help of our spiritual guide our nous is cured; it is led from the movement contrary to nature to that according to nature and, even more, above nature; the nous then is illumined and united with God and it is cured from fantasies and emotions. This is why the realisation of the real problem, and also the cure of the darkened nous are absolutely necessary.
 
Source-The illness and cure of the soul in the Orthodox Tradition
By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos

Adam’s lament

 

St. Silouan’s the Athonite poetry-prayer, Byzantine iconography, and Arvo Pärt’s lyrical musical/ choral  setting of the text  faithful to its every nuance.(*) 

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Lenten Reflections (III)

Adam, father of all mankind, in paradise knew the sweetness of the love of God; and so when for his sin he was driven forth from the garden of Eden, and was widowed of the love of God, he suffered grievously and lamented with a great moan. And the whole desert rang with his lamentations, for his soul was racked as he thought, ‘I have distressed my beloved   God’. He sorrowed less after paradise and the beauty thereof; for he sorrowed that he was bereft of the love of God, which insatiably, at every instant, draws the soul to Him.

In the same way the soul which has known God through the Holy Spirit, but has afterwards lost grace experiences the torment that Adam suffered. There is an aching and a deep regret in the soul that has grieved the beloved Lord.

Adam pined on earth, and wept bitterly, and the earth was not pleasing to him. He was heartsick for God, and this was his cry:

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My soul wearies for the Lord, and I seek Him in tears.

How should I not seek Him?

When I was with Him my soul was glad and at rest, and the enemy could not come nigh me;

But now the spirit of evil has gained power over me, harassing and oppressing my soul,

So that I weary for the Lord even unto death, And my spirit strains to God,

and there is naught on earth can make me glad, Nor can my soul take comfort in any thing,

but longs once more to see the Lord, that her hunger may be appeased.

 

 

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I cannot forget Him for a single moment, and my soul languishes after Him,

and from the multitude of my afflictions I lift up my voice and cry: ‘Have mercy upon me, O God. Have mercy on Thy fallen   creature.’

Thus did Adam lament, and the tears steamed down his face on to his beard, on to the ground beneath his feet, and the whole desert heard the sound of his moaning. The beasts and the birds were hushed in grief; while Adam wept because peace and love were lost to all men on account of his sin.

 

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Adam knew great grief when he was banished from paradise, but when he saw his son Abel slain by Cain his brother, Adam’s grief was even heavier. His soul was heavy, and he lamented and   thought:

Peoples and nations will descend from me, and multiply, and suffering will be their lot, and they will live in enmity and seek to slay one another.

And his sorrow stretched wide as the sea, and only the soul that has come to know the Lord and the magnitude of His love for us can understand.

I, too, have lost grace and call with Adam:

Be merciful unto me, O Lord! Bestow on me the spirit of humility and   love.

 

 

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O love of the Lord! He who has known Thee seeks Thee, tireless, day and night, crying with a loud voice:   “I pine for Thee, O Lord, and seek Thee in tears.

How should I not seek Thee?

Thou didst give me to know Thee by the Holy Spirit,

And in her knowing of God my soul is drawn to seek Thee in tears.” Adam wept:

The desert cannot pleasure me; nor the high mountains, nor meadow nor forest, nor the singing of birds.   I have no pleasure in any thing.

 

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My soul sorrows with a great sorrow: I have grieved God.

And were the Lord to set me down in paradise again,

There, too, would I sorrow and weep – ‘O why did I grieve my beloved   God?’

 

The soul of Adam fell sick when he was exiled from paradise, and many were the tears he shed in his distress. Likewise every soul that has known the Lord yearns for Him, and   cries:

 

Where art Thou, O Lord? Where art Thou, my Light? Why hast Thou hidden Thy face from me?

Long is it since my soul beheld Thee,

And she wearies after Thee and seeks Thee in tears. Where is my Lord?

Why is it that my soul sees Him not? What hinders Him from dwelling in me?

 

 

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This hinders Him: Christ-like humility and love for my enemies art not in me. God is love insaturable, love impossible to describe.

Adam walked the earth, weeping from his heart’s manifold ills, while the thoughts of his mind were on God; and   when his body grew faint, and he could no longer shed tears, still his spirit burned with longing for God, for he could not forget paradise and the beauty thereof; but even more was it the power of His love which caused the soul of Adam to reach out towards God.

I write of thee, O Adam: But thou art witness,

my feeble understanding cannot fathom thy longing after God,

Nor how thou didst carry the burden of repentance.

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O Adam, thou dost see how I, thy child, suffer here on earth. Small is the fire within me, and the flame of my love flickers low. O Adam, sing unto us the song of the Lord,

That my soul may rejoice in the Lord And be moved to praise and glorify Him

as the Cherubim and Seraphim praise Him in the heavens And all the hosts of heavenly angels

sing to Him the thrice-holy hymn.

O Adam, our father, sing unto us the Lord’s song, That the whole earth may hear

And all thy sons may lift their minds to God

and delight in the strains of the heavenly anthem, And forget their sorrows on earth.

 

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The Holy Spirit is love and sweetness for the soul, mind and body. And those who have come to know God by the   Holy Spirit stretch upward day and night, insatiable, to the living God, for the love of God is very sweet. But when the soul loses grace her tears flow as she seeks the Holy Spirit anew.

But the man who has not known God through the Holy Spirit cannot seek Him with tears, and his soul is ever harrowed by the passions; his mind is on earthly things. Contemplation is not for him, and he cannot come to know Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is made known through the Holy Spirit.

 

Adam knew God in paradise, and after his fall sought Him in tears.

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O Adam, our father, tell us, thy sons, of the Lord. Thy soul didst know God on earth,

Knew paradise too, and the sweetness and gladness thereof,

And now thou livest in heaven and dost behold the glory of the Lord. Tell of how our Lord is glorified for His sufferings.

Speak to us of the songs that are sung in heaven, how sweet they are, For they are sung in the Holy Spirit.

Tell us of the glory of the Lord,

of His great mercy and how He loveth His creature. Tell us of the Most Holy Mother of God,

how she is magnified in the heavens, And the hymns that call her blessed.

Tell us how the Saints rejoice there, radiant with grace. Tell us how they love the Lord,

and in what humility they stand before God.

O Adam, comfort and cheer our troubled souls. Speak to us of the things thou dost behold in heaven. Why art thou silent?

Lo, the whole earth is in travail.

Art thou so filled with the love of God that thou canst not think of us? Or thou beholdest the Mother of God in glory,

and canst not tear thyself from the sight,

And wouldst not bestow a word of tenderness on us who sorrow, That we might forget the affliction there on earth?

O Adam, our father,

thou dost see the wretchedness of thy sons on earth.

Why then art thou silent?

 

And Adam speaks:

My children, leave me in peace.

I cannot wrench myself from the love of God to speak with you.

My soul is wounded with love of the Lord and rejoices in His beauty. How should I remember the earth?

Those who live before the Face of the Most High cannot think on earthly things.

 

O Adam, our father, thou hast forsaken us, thine orphans, though misery is our portion here on earth.

Tell us what we may do to be pleasing to God?

Look upon thy children scattered over the face of the earth, our minds scattered too.

Many have forgotten God.

They live in darkness and journey to the abysses of hell.

 

Trouble me not. I see the Mother of God in glory – How can I tear myself away to speak with you?

I see the holy Prophets and Apostles,

and all they are in the likeness of our Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God. I walk in the gardens of paradise,

and everywhere behold the glory of the Lord.

For the Lord is in me and hath made me like unto Himself.

 

O Adam, yet we are they children!

Tell us in our tribulation how we may inherit paradise, That we too, like thee, may behold the glory of the Lord. Our souls long for the Lord,

while thou dost live in heaven and rejoice in the glory of the Lord. We beseech thee – comfort us.

‘Adam’s Lament’ (2009) by Arvo Pärt

Why cry ye out to me, my children?

The Lord loveth you and hath given you commandments.

Be faithful to them, love one another, and ye shall find rest in God. Let not an hour pass without ye repent of your transgressions, That ye may be ready to meet the Lord.

The Lord said: ‘I love them that love me, and glorify them that glorify me.’

 

O Adam, pray for us, thy children.

Our souls are sad from many sorrows.

O Adam, our father, thou dwellest in heaven and dost behold the Lord seated in glory   On the right hand of God the Father.

Thou dost see the Cherubim and Seraphim and all the Saints And thou dost hear celestial songs

whose sweetness maketh thy soul forgetful of the earth.

 

But we here on earth are sad, and e weary greatly after God. There is little fire within us with which to love the Lord ardently. Inspire us, what must we do to gain paradise?

 

Adam makes answer:

 

Leave me in peace, my children, for from sweetness of the love of God I cannot think about the earth.

 

 

O Adam, our souls are weary, and we are heavy-laden with sorrow. Speak a word of comfort to us.

Sing to us from the songs thou hearest in heaven,

That the whole earth may hear and men forget their afflictions. O Adam, we are very sad.

 

Leave me in peace.

The time of my tribulation is past.

From the beauty of paradise and the sweetness of the Holy Spirit I can no longer be mindful of the earth.

But this I tell you:

The Lord loveth you, and do you live in love and be obedient to those in authority over you.

Humble your hearts, and the Spirit of God will live in you. He cometh softly into the soul and giveth her peace,

And bearth wordless witness to salvation. Sing to God in love and lowliness of Spirit, for the Lord rejoiceth therein.

 

O Adam, our father, what are we to do?   We sing but love and humility are not in us.

 

Repent before the Lord, and entreat of Him. He loveth man and will give all things.

I too repented deeply and sorrowed much that I had grieved God,

 

And that peace and love were lost on earth because of my sin. My tears ran down my face.

My breast was wet with my tears, and the earth under my feet; And the desert heard the sound of my moaning.

You cannot apprehend my sorrow,

nor how I lamented for God and for paradise. In paradise was I joyful and glad:

the Spirit of God rejoiced me, and suffering was a strange to me.

But when I was driven forth from paradise cold and hunger began to torment me;

The beasts and the birds that were gentle and had loved me turned into wild things

And were afraid and ran from me. Evil thoughts goaded me.

The sun and the wind scorched me. The rain fell on me.

I was plagued by sickness and all the afflictions of the earth. But I endured all things, trusting steadfastly in God.

Do ye, then, bear the travail of repentance.

Greet tribulation. Wear down your bodies. Humble yourselves And love your enemies,

That the Holy Spirit may take up His abode in you,

And then shall ye know and attain the kingdom of heaven. But come not night me:

Now from love of God

have I forgotten the earth and all that therein is. Forgotten even is the paradise I lost,

for I behold the glory of the Lord And the glory of the Saints

whom the light of God’s countenance maketh radiant as the Lord Himself.

 

O Adam, sing unto us a heavenly song,

That the whole earth may hearken

and delight in the peace of love towards God. We would hear those songs:

Sweet are they for they are sung in the Holy Spirit.

 

Adam lost the earthly paradise and sought it weeping. But the Lord through His love on the Cross gave Adam another paradise, fairer than the old – a paradise in heave where shines the Light of the Holy Trinity.

 

What shall we render unto the Lord for His love to us?

Source: St. Silouan the Athonite, by Archimandrite Sophrony.

(*) In an interview in Toronto in the 1980’s, Pärt shared his personal definition of minimalism as the process by which his music is reduced to the number One. In his view, that One is the Divine Creator. In Adam’s Lament (2009) he sees the Biblical Adam as a unifying symbol. Pärt said, “Our ancestor Adam foresaw the human tragedy that was to come and experienced it as his own guilty responsibility, the result of his sinful act. He suffered all the cataclysms of humanity into the depths of depression, inconsolable in his agony.” Adam’s Lament is based on a Russian text by the ascetic monk and poet, St. Silouan of Athos (1866–1938). Pärt’s fascination with Silouan is such that his setting of this text is faithful to its every nuance. The music reflects a range of devotional writing that’s by turns dramatic, passionate, humble and submissive.