I saw two caves, one of which revealed an echo, while the other had none. And many curious children were visiting the former and were mischievously carrying out shouting matches with the cave. But from the other cave visitors were quickly returning, because it was not answering them with an echo.
If my soul is wounded, every worldly evil will resound within it. And people will laugh at me, and will throng more and more strongly with their shouting. But truly, evil-speaking people will not harm me, if my tongue has forgotten how to speak evil. Nor will external malice sadden me, if there is no malice in my heart to resound like a goatskin drum. Nor shall I be able to respond to ire with ire, if the lair of ire within me has been vacated and there is nothing to be aroused. Nor will human passions titillate me, if the passions within me have been reduced to ashes. Nor will the unfaithfulness of friends sadden me, if I have resolved to have You for my friend. Nor can the injustice of the world crush me, if injustice has been expelled from my thoughts. Nor will the deceitful spirits of worldly pleasure, honor and power entice me, if my soul is like an immaculate bride, who receives only the Holy Spirit and yearns for Him alone.
People cannot shove anyone into hell, unless that person shoves himself. Nor can people hoist anyone up on their shoulders to the throne of God, unless that person elevates himself.
If my soul has no open windows, no mud can be thrown into it. Let all nature rise up against me; it can do nothing to me except a single thing—to become the grave of my body more swiftly.
Every worldly crop is covered with fertilizer, so that it will sprout as soon as possible and grow better. If my soul, alas, were to abandon her virginity and receive the seed of this world into herself, then she would also have to accept the manure, which the world throws onto its field. But I call upon You day and night: come dwell in my soul and close all those places where my enemies can enter. Make the cavern of my soul empty and silent, so that no one from the world will want to enter it. O my soul, my only concern, be on guard and learn to distinguish between the voices striking your ears. And once you hear the voice of your Lord, abandon your silence and resound with all your strength. O my soul, cavern of eternity, never permit temporal thieves to enter you and kindle their fire within you. Keep quiet, when they shout to you. Stay still, when they bang on you. And patiently await your Master. For He will truly come.
— From Prayers by the Lake, by Nikolaj Velimirović,
Bishop of Ohrid and Žiča
Bishop of Ohrid and Žiča