May 2007


The mature soul heals itself in all circumstances, between the light and the dark. We know this because Saint Paul, even while his physical body was locked up in the stockade after being flogged, with his heart and mouth he sung hymns praising God, the architect of the soul. On this, then, we should maintain our focus, concentrate our efforts, mind, body and heart, with whatever tools the circumstances provide us with. But in the last instance, the soul is a wealth of being unto itself as God designed it, the helmsman of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, called upon to steer the direction of real work, real love on earth, the material world, as it is in heaven, our spiritual home, working together according to God’s will.

Let the historical record, then, show what I have done, where I have been, but here let us focus on the spiritual journey of the soul, as it flits between light and darkness, endeavoring to discern God’s will, and put it into practice, both as reflected in the record and as felt in the soul’s heart, the very core of one’s person, everlasting, created by God.

If it is God’s will, then, may I enjoy the circumstances whereby I can raise a family independently, under the sovereignty of God, and teach my son that the most valuable relationship is in this God-created life is communion with the Holy Spirit and yet it is our task, in the vagaries of this world, to express that value, to express that faith, the energy of life to the glory of the same God who assigned us the task, according to His good and just purpose.

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God grant me six days of hard, gainful work, and a Lord’s day of rest dedicated to the praise of His glory and peace to His family of faithful on earth.

Hard, gainful work in the material sense, yes, but most of all gainful in the sense of cultivating the fruits of the Holy Spirit, as an every day, moment to moment occupation, body and soul for as much as the feeble mind can allow, and seeking forgiveness when you fall short, fall into darkness.

For I have understood something about the nature of the soul. Yes, I had read and heard of the teaching before from Orthodox brethren, but through my own experience, nurtured through the reading of Scriptures, I have come to grasp it more firmly.

It is as if the soul is a subtle, sheer organism, even independent of the body but within the body, at least for a time, that seeks the light and to remain in the light in a stable manner, but the soul in the world of men spends most of its time in darkness, and yet seeks the light. And so it traipses through much of its existence flitting, at times wildly, between dark and light, dark and light, light and dark, light and dark, like a string, when loose and suddenly made taut, for a period vibrates wildly back and forth. The eyes of the soul, so to speak, seek the light, but they spend so much time in darkness that when they see the light the energy overwhelms the soul and it flits back into darkness, a seemingly comfortable place because of its entropy and inertia, and so the negation of purposeful energy, mindful effort, and life.

Be not, then, the lazy soul, either loosed in a state of inertia nor taut as if strung up by the will of another, but the balanced soul, the soul at equilibrium that seeks the light and can remain there at peace with itself and within the Uncreated Light.

Thank God that we can achieve peace and prosperity, even in this world, by following His commands and living in the faith, also through the hard work of good men. And all this despite what men call the powers that be. It is days like this that remind us that it is possible to attain to the kingdom within us regardless of the vagaries of this world of men, and this has probably been the case since God breathed life into men’s souls even after some among them, through the exercise of their own free will, decided to go against God’s commands.

The goal, then, as it always has been, is to live the spiritual life regardless of the material circumstances but also in harmony with the material circumstances. If you can achieve this hither or thither, then you can achieve it here and there. The driving force, as it always has been, is discipline and faith, being true to your own nature: if you love mountains, then live in the mountains, both here and there. But, most of all, trust in the Lord, be patient, shimmer with joy in all circumstances in the meanwhile, and He will show the way in the way that manifests His glory, according to His plan, be His instrument, and by doing so, you will also be fulfilled in the best way possible, which is the Lord’s way.

Remember that the bodily organ that acts as the channel of birth is the same organ that emits waste. Human nature can never be trusted and any relationship that works in this world is a grace from God.

It is clear that God did not intend for men to be idle, otherwise the Psalms and the books of the New Testament would not say what they say, and men who are monks and priests, men who sit in legislatures and in judges’ chambers, moneyed men, men of leisure, have special responsibilities because of their positions of privilege, especially if they are born into it, yet all men share analogous responsibilities in proportion to their station in life, their talents, and their faith.
For what could be more fulfilling of God’s purpose than to care for one’s flock, to work hard to shape the environment, to the best of one’s abilities, in the circumstances, to provide others with a change for life and with the tools, spiritual and material, to continue on in God’s work as God commands?

This is why it is important to manage one’s own enterprises and to have the opportunity to both fail and succeed, to build a sense of responsibility, this is why it is important to know the economy of both town and country, to understand the analogies of God’s work as depicted in the Scriptures and to deepen one’s sense of responsibility as one navigates the vagaries of this world to give others a fighting chance for life, God’s grace bestowed upon you.

Be not afraid, then, of hard work, even if it is not always to your liking, because God will always provide a chance for those who love Him to come into His rest and pursue also the work of the spirit which ultimately is the very purpose of the material work we do in this world, so that we may gain an even deeper understanding also of our spiritual responsibilities, and so the Lord has given us the two hands of our bodies with which to work, symbolizing the very tools of our souls with which to work.

God has blessed us with all the tools we need to produce abundance. Agricultural society brought survival to many and abundance to a few; some of these few wrote about the moral hazards of over-abundance for the benefit of their peers who would listen. Industrialized society – in its various political forms and social systems – produces abundance for very many, and each of these systems as well is fraught with moral hazards, both for the ruling classes who design and implement them and for the common “consumers” who toil under them.

When bread is in abundance, we must control our appetites in order to remind ourselves, not only that bread tastes good, but why probably for centuries, if not millennia, men struggled to produce bread. On the same way, we in industrialized society must not only control our appetites for bread, but for the consumption of the very energy which is at the base of industrialized society which produces in over-abundance not only the bread that we need that frees us to pursue other tasks, but also, perhaps shamefully, an over-abundance of a plethora of other goods and services, some of which free us for tasks and activities which have no discernable purpose. But who am I to judge what another person does with his own freedom?

Yet we need to control ourselves in order to appreciate what is truly valuable about the work we do and the freedom that we enjoy. In this context, then, as it is written, less is more: free yourself from the excesses of over-abundance so that you can be free to do more fruitful work.

And yet what is telling about human nature is that, despite all the philosophical preparation read about and learned in books, it is still a life-long struggle in practice and, though, yes we do have some fruit to show for our work, we have fallen way short of what we could have well achieved because the body finds solace in depraved indulgences, and even some of the less depraved ones are cloaked as the pursuit of culture, and the soul finds solace in the philosophical and spiritual books, rather than focusing sharply on the message and putting it into practice for the benefit of others. The reality is that there are few men who are full bearers of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, but, by the grace of God, we have learned that perhaps the burden is not so heavy, that, through moderate discipline as taught even by today’s Orthodox, it is possible to bear as many fruits of the Holy Spirit as one’s natural talents allow, without pretensions of being a super-intellectual or super holy man, but rather humbly as a worker in the Lord’s vineyard, cheerfully accepting the wage that He deems fit and, in the end, by His grace, come into His rest on the last day.