“For darkness will not be darkness with Thee, and night shall be bright as the day; as is the darkness thereof, even so shall the light thereof be.”
Selections from Psalm 138, Orthodox Psalter
“Oh Lord, that has proved me and Thou knowest me; Thou knowest my down-sitting and my uprising. Thou hast discerned my thoughts from afar; my path and my lot hast Thou traced out, And hast foreseen all my ways, for there is no guile in my tongue. Behold, Lord, Thou knowest all things, the last and the first; Thou hast fashioned me and hast laid Thy hand upon me. Thy knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is mighty, I cannot attain unto it. Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit? And from Thy presence whither shall I flee? If I go up into heaven, Thou art there; if I go down into Hades, Thou art present there. If I take up my wings toward the dawn, and make my abode in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there shall Thy hand guide me, and Thy right hand shall hold me. And I said: Surely darkness shall tread me down, and the night shall be turned into light in my delight. For darkness will not be darkness with Thee, and night shall be bright as the day; as is the darkness thereof, even so shall the light thereof be. For Thou hast possessed my reins; Oh Lord, Thou hast holpen me from my mother’s womb. I will confess Thee, for awesomely art Thou wondrous; marvelous are Thy works, and my soul knowest it right well…. Prove me, Oh God, and know my heart; examine me and know my paths. And see if the way of iniquity be in me, and guide me in the way everlasting.”
Guide me to the way everlasting. What is that “way”? I had a dear friend, who was a Holocaust survivor, who past away in 1999. I have written quite a bit about her in my first book, The Pearl of Great Price. Her name was Claire. When I met her in Paris, France in 1983. She had just been diagnosed with melanoma cancer in her right eye and given about a year to live. She initially woke up in terror every morning until she realized that to live in fear of dying was not useful, but to live each day to the fullest, as if it were to be our last day or week or year on earth, was essential.
How I have struggled and longed to live my life this way. Claire actually lived for 17 more years! When she fell into anxiety, she sought to serve others, to not be right, to forgive and to love. She was a remarkable human being. I think the Saints of our Church have and do operate from this same principle with the added commitments to live life in Christ through prayer and fasting.
I awoke this morning realizing that God has given us all an opportunity to live our lives to the fullest in a spiritual sense with the invasion of COV19. For those of us not in essential roles or on the front line of medical defense, the majority of us must shelter at home. We have been given the opportunity to step away from many of the distractions of our fast-paced external life to find new ways to connect and support each other and our families – or not. I realized I could choose to be fearful or I could choose to be in action and prayer.
If I died tomorrow, what would be essential for me to complete today? If I had 2-3 months, what would be essential for me to do versus watching TV for hours, disobeying, in little ways the constraints asked of us, avoiding or complaining? How could we make the best of this time, especially in the last few weeks of our Lenten Journey? We could fully choose to live our lives in Christ, turning to prayer every few hours to stay connected to God, being in virtuous action, connecting by phone with others for their sake and ours, interacting with our children and spouse or housemates in positive ways. We could choose to fully enter into the gift God is giving us. Are there things you have put off you could do – important things? For me, it is to finish a book about the last years I spent with my late husband near an Orthodox monastery. It has been too painful for me to finish it, but if I only had a few months to live – yes – I will finish it, Lord. May God bless us all to live more fully in the moment – right now – where we are and let go of fear, for “God is with us,” even more so than ever if we just step out of fear and into prayer and action for Christ’s sake.
In Christ with love,