Tuesday, March 24, 2015

That old, beautiful road

Yes, it’s still that old road, that old, beautiful road.

A dear friend, about a generation younger, an Orthodox man, a husband, a father, a provider who risks being a workaholic, a theologian of considerable depth, a survivor of the death of a son, a servant of God, faithful in everything and to everyone except perhaps to himself, grieves for joylessness, suffers the aridity of an unfounded guilt that he is not following his Lord but only going through the motions.

The bloom of spiritual youth, when joy came readily and spontaneously, like the rain-downed blossoms on my now bare magnolia tree, only a memory to be trodden underfoot, taunting now with temptation to failed faith, is like a mirage sighted only by looking back, and a mirage at that, for the world of the past, as Christ Himself promises, is gone, and only the present moment, dry as a potsherd, is real.

Yes, promises, for Christ does not grant us what we think we need at the wrong time, but waits more patiently than the universe for the son of God in us to be revealed, as He walks with us, yes, with each and every one of us, prying open the ears of our hearts with His parables, as He resurrected accompanies us down that old road, that old, beautiful road first planted with His teachings and paved with His tears.

Yes, beautiful, and very, very old, that road which leads from the disobediently disappled tree, past the preventing angels, passing through ambushes of envious and vengeful devils whose lies stretched taut and almost invisible would trip us, which proves itself the path of no turning back and impels us forward into whose galloping arms, nailed as branches, we realize only as we gasp our last, is what He promised.

Yes, it’s still that old road, that old, beautiful road. Days and nights, joys and sorrows, exaltation and near despair, casting their lights and shadows across that road, they do not help or hinder, do not speed or slow our progress as we walk in tandem with our invisible Lord, made visible in our pressing on, in our tearful, even anguished endurance, as we saddled with silence pursue His words promising us life.

‘Will you also abandon me?’ it seems we ask Him, though it is He who asks, and coming to ourselves after a night of sleepless struggle, we rejoin Him on that old road, that old, beautiful road, and relieve ourselves of all doubt as we tell Him, ‘To whom would I go, since You alone have the words of eternal life,’ and that is enough, it has to be enough, for that is all truth, all beauty, and saves all the world.

Yes, beloved brother, it’s still that old, beautiful road.

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