To Survive Death, To Stay Alive

At the end of it all, what have I achieved?… After this week in a tent, alone to face God and myself, what have I learn? The first thing that comes to heart is that I’ve learnt how close to spiritual death I am, and how profoundly unprepared I am to face God.

I’ve learnt why the desert fathers, those angelic beings living in flesh and blood, died asking for more time to repent. I’ve learnt that my outwardly gestures of life are empty, only filled with the hallow substance of death. I’ve learnt that I fake life, while being dead; and I fake it brilliantly, even in front of my own conscience. I’ve learnt, and I pray never to forget, that I am death, and that only Christ’s descent into the death that I am can bring me to life.

How empty of meaning these words sound, even to me… ‘I am death, and You are Life’. And yet, how painfully real, how true they are in the most basic, material sense. I am death, and the awareness of it cuts like a knife through the fake realities I so carefully assembled for so many years – fake realities of myself, of the world, of God Himself.

At the end of it all, I’ve learnt that a Christian’s fight is a fight for Life, and has nothing to do with anything else. My fight is not concerned with any of the social issues that consume the world today; my fight is not about political or moral questions. My fight is to stay alive; my only aim, my absolute, final, consuming goal is to survive death.

The only path I know out of the basic reality of death is Christ and His power to resurrect. I leave today with one lesson learnt. There can only be one beginning to this path: repentance; a sort of repentance that frightens me, because it threatens to transform everything that I am, everything I have grown to know and love about myself.

Repentance: the beginning and the end. Everything else is fake. Everything else is wasteful. Everything else is a distraction from the real fight and the real aim: to overcome death, to remain alive.

Please forgive me. Please pray for me.

3 Thoughts.

  1. Dear Father Serafim,
    Thank you for the blessedly brutal reminder that all we toil after is meaningless! The only goal we should have is to bear our cross alongside our risen Lord and ultimately escape death. May God and His Holy Saints bless you in your beautiful journey that you bravely share with us. You and the monastery are in my prayers.

  2. “I’ve learnt why the desert fathers, those angelic beings living in flesh and blood, died asking for more time to repent. I’ve learnt that my outwardly gestures of life are empty, only filled with the hallow substance of death. I’ve learnt that I fake life, while being dead; and I fake it brilliantly, even in front of my own conscience. I’ve learnt, and I pray never to forget, that I am death, and that only Christ’s descent into the death that I am can bring me to life.”

    Thank you, Father. This is so profound. It is a truth that I know exists. And yet I pray that God will enlighten me REALLY how true it is, to MAKE it true to me myself. I tell myself such things, but I do not yet see into the depths of them. I can only rely on God to do that for me, I suppose.

    What a blessed realization. Though it strikes me that it surely comes with its own potential pitfalls. Perhaps I simply am not ready myself. I must trust in God, and those put in spiritual authority over me. You have my prayers, as always. Both for yourself, and for the monastery. God be with you!

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