Moments of clarity.








The mindless man and the witless shall perish together, and they shall leave their riches to others. And their graves shall be their houses unto eternity, their dwelling places unto generation and generation, thought they have called their lands after their own names. (Psalm48:10-11 Boston)

 

It is wonderful to read the Psalter daily. Just about every time I read it, there is something that “jumps out” – a truth that I already knew, but feel with special power at a particular moment. It is times like these that the poetry illuminates the soul and we apprehend, and believe, and desire with great desire – absolute truth. It is a pity that these moments subside rapidly.

 

How many such moments do we need to be saved? Is it ten, a hundred, a hundred thousand? If I truly believed with all of my being what I read, I would not have discrete moments of clarity and zeal, but my entire life would be a moment in the Spirit.

 

It is an occupational hazard of a pastor that everything he reads makes him think of his beloved flock. Since I am merely a sinner tasked by God to help others not to sin, and share the same human condition, when moments of clarity come, it is always my fervent desire that my flock have such moments also. 

 

During many such moments, there is a peculiar phenomenon in which I think of many things at the same time, each with great clarity, and none of the thoughts interfering with each other. 

 

One of these thoughts is usually a sense of melancholy that I must hear holy things so many times, and yet I still do not live completely in accordance with them. With this melancholy comes a practical idea – I must read as often as I can, pray more regularly, really listen at the services. I do not know how much more time I have, and the days remaining for each in my flock are unknown to me.

 


To my beloved flock, I ask, how much do you need to pray to be saved? How many services should you attend? How many times will you need to hear about love to truly love? I do not know the answers to these things. 

 

Time is short, and precious. Resolve today to apply yourself more sincerely to the living of the Christian life. Although the Psalter tells us that “all men are liars”, let us attempt to make our lies to be truth! Let us pursue holy moments of clarity when we “make our vows”, and let the shear volume of our promises compel us to change! 

 

These “moments of clarity” occur in times of prayer, the reading of the scriptures, and during long vigils, and other times, since the Spirit “bloweth where it listeth”. (John 3:8) That is why I continually stress such things over and over. We cannot have enough of them, we will never have too many of them, until we die, and then comes the judgment. 

 

This particular verse struck me today, and as I thought of its profound meaning, I thought also of my flock and desired to share my thoughts. 

 

How foolish we are! We do temporal things as if they were eternal things. The foolish man names lands after himself, and then he perishes. The very dirt on the land he has named will someday pass away, and his name will not even be a memory long before that. Everything goes away, except what we become. How many “lands” do we pursue in order to name? Why do we not live like we really believe this?

 

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2 Responses to “Moments of clarity.”

  1. From: Natalia Arzhantseva
    Date: Tue, 13 Jan 2009 10:43:50 +0300

    Father, thank you! Your words evoked some tiny strings of my soul+I also, to the extent that is possible for me, got the significance & meaning of reading the Psalter regularly, as well as the Gospel. And each time you make a new discovery, your heart responds to a new episode, words, or you find a new meaning in the words that you heard already hundreds of times. And I read the Psalter when I am in despair, or sadness, or any unpleasant event took place. It’s really a treasure & a great consolation, and evidently clarifies, lightens my brains. I always found myself in blessed bewilderment when I found in saint books the states or thoughts that I felt myself, and when some wise, genius saint person reveals the truth that I have also already new, or felt, but could not express in words. Especially I notice it when I read the works of St Bishop Ignaty Brianchaninov, or Metropolital Antony of Surozh. It’s like separate pieces of mosaic, or a fragment of mosaic screen, that some artist comes & creates a wonderful picture! At such moments I tend to exclaim: “Wow, this is my thought, this is how I feel, this is what I understood, having passed through my whole life & having learned something at least!” And I am astonished how a person, who lived so long ago, whom I never knew, might have had so similar feelings & life perception+ Maybe it is too defiant to say so from my side+The Psalter produces the same effect. It really brings life & clarity. Thank you, Father, for bringing us a new wave of the fresh, life-asserting water of the Psalter!

    Father, I have recently read the Psalm when there are the words that you mention: “all men are liars”. And I would like to ask you a question: It’s already several times that I fix my attention on these words, and I came to the following conclusion – that these words carry the following connotation (for me): that people are not merely all liars, but that people are far from being ideal, that we just should not lay too many hopes in them, we should not set all our hopes upon them, idolize them. Otherwise we’ll undergo disillusionment in them, what may lead to our total disillusionment in life & people in general, undermine our positive perception of life. That we should not allow fascination, in order not to suffer disillusionment. As when idols fall, it hurts+These words tell me not that people tell lies constantly (though many do:-)), but that they do not correspond to our conception of them, and thus we cannot demand or expect too much from them. And we become, at times bitterly, deceived in our expectations… Especially it becomes clear to us when something sharp or severe happens to us, and we find us standing alone, with only God supporting us. Not because all people are indifferent to our grief (though at times it is so), but because there are such moments of truth in our lives when nobody can help, as it is beyond people’s capacity+.

    Can you please explain to me whether it is possible to understand these words as I do, or it is incorrect?

    Thank you so much in advance.

    Blessings, Natalia
    This comment is posted with permission from The St Nicholas email list: http://groups.google.com/group/saint-nicholas-orthodox-church

  2. From: Natalia Arzhantseva
    Date: Tue, 13 Jan 2009 10:43:50 +0300
    Father, thank you! Your words evoked some tiny strings of my soul+I also, to the extent that is possible for me, got the significance & meaning of reading the Psalter regularly, as well as the Gospel. And each time you make a new discovery, your heart responds to a new episode, words, or you find a new meaning in the words that you heard already hundreds of times. And I read the Psalter when I am in despair, or sadness, or any unpleasant event took place. It’s really a treasure & a great consolation, and evidently clarifies, lightens my brains. I always found myself in blessed bewilderment when I found in saint books the states or thoughts that I felt myself, and when some wise, genius saint person reveals the truth that I have also already new, or felt, but could not express in words. Especially I notice it when I read the works of St Bishop Ignaty Brianchaninov, or Metropolital Antony of Surozh. It’s like separate pieces of mosaic, or a fragment of mosaic screen, that some artist comes & creates a wonderful picture! At such moments I tend to exclaim: “Wow, this is my thought, this is how I feel, this is what I understood, having passed through my whole life & having learned something at least!” And I am astonished how a person, who lived so long ago, whom I never knew, might have had so similar feelings & life perception+ Maybe it is too defiant to say so from my side+The Psalter produces the same effect. It really brings life & clarity. Thank you, Father, for bringing us a new wave of the fresh, life-asserting water of the Psalter!

    Father, I have recently read the Psalm when there are the words that you mention: “all men are liars”. And I would like to ask you a question: It’s already several times that I fix my attention on these words, and I came to the following conclusion – that these words carry the following connotation (for me): that people are not merely all liars, but that people are far from being ideal, that we just should not lay too many hopes in them, we should not set all our hopes upon them, idolize them. Otherwise we’ll undergo disillusionment in them, what may lead to our total disillusionment in life & people in general, undermine our positive perception of life. That we should not allow fascination, in order not to suffer disillusionment. As when idols fall, it hurts+These words tell me not that people tell lies constantly (though many do:-)), but that they do not correspond to our conception of them, and thus we cannot demand or expect too much from them. And we become, at times bitterly, deceived in our expectations… Especially it becomes clear to us when something sharp or severe happens to us, and we find us standing alone, with only God supporting us. Not because all people are indifferent to our grief (though at times it is so), but because there are such moments of truth in our lives when nobody can help, as it is beyond people’s capacity+.

    Can you please explain to me whether it is possible to understand these words as I do, or it is incorrect?

    Thank you so much in advance.

    Blessings,

    Natalia
    This comment is posted with permission from The St Nicholas email list: http://groups.google.com/group/saint-nicholas-orthodox-church

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