for the Journey
Along THE WAY
My Lord and my God —
Here I am again, falling down before Your Holy Presence, offering myself and my whole life to You, thanking You for the incredible joy of all the blessings You continually shower upon me. I thank You for all your wonderful kindness and goodness to me. I thank you for Your great love for me, unworthy as I am to receive Your love and abundant blessings. Again I offer myself and my whole life to You. Here I am again, Lord, trying to perceive and understand Your will and Your Truth — trying to perceive and understand what life is and how we should live. Help me, Lord, to truly seek holiness every day so that I might grow ever-closer to you and overcome my ego — my self. And help me at every moment of every day to trust You totally in every single thing, in every aspect of my life. Help me to realize that only then can I be secure, endure suffering, face death, and find peace.
Ah, Peace! Lord, isn’t that what everything is all about? Peace! In Your Divine Liturgy, more than anything else, we’re constantly praying for Peace. “In peace, let us pray to the Lord....” for the peace of the world; for a peaceful death; for a peaceful day; for peaceful times. We pray for our rulers so that they will enable us to live in peace. The priest frequently says to the people, “Peace to you all.” And Lord, even outside Christianity, in the Middle-East, people greet each other in Hebrew and Arabic by wishing them “Peace” — “shalom!” In the Far-East, people put the palms of their hands together and nod their heads in a gesture of peace to each other. In the secular realm, n the American Declaration of Independence, it is affirmed that all people have the inalienable right to safety and the “pursuit of happiness,” which I think is secular, political terminology for “peace.” And after Your Resurrection, prior to Your Ascension, You, Lord, granted Peace to Your Apostles and other Disciples. When celebrating Your Birth during the Christmas season, we hear how the angels proclaimed “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth PEACE, good-will to men.” Even in totally secular expressions of the Christmas season, the prevalent themes are Peace, Love, Hope, Joy, Generosity and Kindness. So, Lord, it seems that even among atheists and godless, secular people, there is still an awareness of and the longing for the highest characteristics of being human, the characteristics of being made in Your Own Image and Likeness. These highest qualities of being human are well expressed as the reason to believe in Santa Clause, found in movies such as “Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Clause,” and in “Miracle on 34rd Street,” and many other Christmas-themed movies. In the midst of the Christmas season, the Peaceful spirit of Your Presence continues in the celebration of the New Year, when people rather universally wish each other a happy and peaceful New Year. Then, when people die, it is customary to wish that they will “Rest in Peace.” Lord, it seems that the longing for Peace is quite a universal human longing throughout all cultures and civilizations, and regardless of one’s religion.
But, alas, what are we faced with everyday, Lord? The exact opposite of Peace, Love, Hope, Kindness and Generosity. Everyday, Lord, we are surrounded by hate, anger, violence, brutality, emotional and physical abuse, overall lack of reverence of life and lack of basic respect for other people. Even common civility towards others whose viewpoints differ from ours is attacked by our country’s political leaders. Even common politeness to others as fellow human beings is largely absent and regarded as antiquated. Why is this so, Lord? And why have so many fundamental moral principles been thrown out the window, Lord, especially in just the last 10 years or so?
Since the outward, public life is always, axiomatically, a reflection of people’s inner life, I have to assume, Lord, that the lack of peace in the exterior world, is a reflection of the lack of peace in the inner world. But Lord, isn’t it You Yourself Who are the source of all Peace? It is You who granted Peace to Your Disciples, and assured them and all future generations of Your disciples that You would be with them – with us – forever. So it seems, Lord that the increasing mess, noise, filth and stench of our world around us — the world-that-knows-You-not — is precisely because so many of those who go into politics, the mass media, business, entertainment, the military-industrial machine, and even education, simply don’t know You and have no interest in knowing You. Lord, it’s so pitiful how so many public figures even ridicule You and those who do believe in You and try to follow You. So I guess, that the mess we see in the world around us and that is reported in what passes for “news,” is an outward reflection and manifestation of what is on the inside of most of the people who are in the public light. It seems, Lord, that those who do try to follow You are attacked, sometimes extremely viciously, verbally and sometimes physically, and even demonized for their Faith in You.
So, Lord, it seems as though we have gone full-circle in our prayers for our journey along the Way — Your Way, which is the narrow Way or Path — and find that all our prayers start, return and end with You and our commitment to You, and our desire to grow ever closer to You in fuller and fuller union and communion with You. Since Peace emanates only from You, its sole source, it seems, Lord, that only when we have accepted inner Peace from You, can there be outer Peace. And, contrariwise, only when we have received into ourselves Your Peace, that is a manifestation of Your Presence within us, can we also encounter the lack of peace in the world-that-knows-You-not that surrounds us, without losing our own inner Peace. I guess, Lord, that this is another dimension of being in the world but not being of the world. Please, Lord, help me to block out the noise and putrid stench of the world-that-knows-You-not, and all its characteristics of the lack of Peace, which is really the lack of accepting Your Presence. Please, Lord, help me to crave the quiet and peace of Your Presence, and to long for ever-closer communion with You, and that I might offer constant thanksgiving and praise to you, and might dwell in Your Holy Presence forever. Amen.
- By Sister Ioanna
- St. Innocent Monastic Community
- Redford, Michigan