It is hope in the resurrection that enables us to live, that enables us to endure the trials that life brings us – otherwise our life is tragic and futile, because all our works, efforts, and accomplishments will be destroyed by death, swept away by time, as if we had never existed at all.
As we begin to enter into the practice of the Jesus Prayer to engage the presence of the Spirit within ourselves we began to encounter both passing and deeper, recurring thoughts that work to distract us from calling upon the name of the Lord. What is the origin of these thoughts, and what do they show us about ourselves and how we interact with the world? How does the Church teach us to deal with distracting thought as they come to us, and make room for Christ in our hearts?
To discover one’s heart is an act of reintegration, and when the heart and mind are reunited it’s an experience of tremendous spiritual joy and delight. The image that St. John Climacus uses is that it’s like a man returning home after a long journey and embracing his wife and children. We see often on the news about soldiers returning home and embracing their wives and children and it’s so tremendously powerful to see. Imagine that as an image of what takes place when all your fragmented and dispersed thoughts and wandering mind are reconnected to the deeper part of yourself.
St. Paul says you are the dwelling place of God. Is this how we normally understand ourselves? To be dwelling places inhabited by God? This is a very powerful assertion; do we take it seriously and understand what it means and what our lives mean in the context of such a statement? Do we live consistently with such a statement?
We’re all drawn to beautiful things, and of course the beauty that inheres in all beautiful things is the beauty of the Divine. The ultimate beauty that exerts its magnetic pull on us is not a beautiful face, or landscape, or piece of music, but it is the beauty of the Divine which is refracted or reflected in these earthly beauties. “Philokalia” means the love of the beautiful.
Man is a creature of great depth, created by God, but after the Fall we are easily distracted from the depths, being enamored with mere surface appearances. What in our world today serves to distract us from the depths, and what can we do about it?
It’s a human impulse to want the best and greatest when we see it, but we forget that there are other things we need to do before we’re ready to achieve that level. We think we’re ready for great achievements before we’ve even attended to little things which somehow seem beneath us. We can’t stoop to them because we’ve been called by God—we have to be seen doing great big things. But this of course is to forget the words of the Lord Who says in the Gospel that he who is faithful in a little is faithful in much.