Small explosions of life

There is a sense of great freedom in understanding that one does not represent anything and anyone else except oneself. One can easily be crushed by the sense of responsibility that comes from feeling that we stand for anything else except for who we are. When you go through life thinking you represent anything else except yourself, when you allow the world around you to reduce you to a symbol rather than the person God created you to be – that can have devastating spiritual effects.

We are human beings, made of flesh and bones, not symbols of anything else, be that a symbol of our family, of our job, our gender, our race, or even of our faith. We are real human beings. We have real, personal feelings. At some point in our lives, each of us has experienced both the pain of sin and the joy of Christ’s forgiveness. We are only who we are, each of us representing nothing and no-one else except ourselves and our personal story of salvation.

I am not an institution. I am not a system of believes. I cannot be reduced to my gender, my age and my race. Both Peter and Judas were men. Both men crucified with Christ were thieves. The Mother of God and Eve were both women. Nothing, no logical criterion, no external sign can express our personhood, who we are in our personal relation to our Creator.

I travel constantly these months, and the temptation to reduce people to categories is always present. The opposite is valid, too – many people meet me during these travels, and I also sense their temptation to reduce me to my faith, because that makes it easier for them to interact with me. As a rule, it is easier to interact with ‘categories’ of people, with the generalities (that is, the prejudices and already formed opinions) concerning a category, than it is to risk meeting a real human being.

I pray both myself and the people I meet will find the courage to take this risk. I pray to remain simple and focused on just being myself. I pray to simply witness to nothing else except my personal experience. I pray we all remain open to love each other, open to enter a real relationship with our true selves – as human beings, as persons created in the image of God; not as impersonal categories, not as symbols of anything or anyone else.

Small explosions of life. Small miracles. This is what meeting each other should be like. The image of God meeting the image of God: a life-giving sacrament.

4 Responses

  • Dear Father Seaphim, I enjoy your podcast. I felt especially in agreement and personally connected with your words as you spoke of Christ’s and the Saint’s peacefulness rather than violence, in response to violence, in your podcast “What are you Fighting For.”

    I have tried to articulate this idea , in the past, to non- Orthodox Christians or secular friends, and they generally present me with the argument “What if the nations hadn’t fought Hitler?”
    “I don’t know,” I say. But I think “God would have dwelt more in the solution, without a war.”

    Would you please share how you might respond to this question, Fr. Sraphim?

    Also, I’ve heard you will be speaking inWestern Washington soon, in Feb. A group from St. Herman of Alaska in Port Townsend would like to come hear and meet you. Please share your schedule with us, and we will be there! God bless you. In Christ, Elizabeth (Tamara) Pratt

  • Fr. Seraphim,

    I very much agree with your thoughts – only you’ve said it so much better. The thought struck me lately that if we truly believe God is the one holding the world together – in fact, even each of our very beings – then it gives us the freedom to not follow the world’s dictum to look out for #1, which in turn allows us to stop categorizing people.

    I’ve found this categorization technique is mainly a coping method so that something coming across our path can be dealt with and we can move on to the next item in our extremely busy lives, which we must do if we’re going to stay on top of the game of running our world and looking out for #1.

    But if God has the con and we don’t have to push and shove in order to survive, then we can give all our attention to each small miracle in front of us as they present themselves. This is a huge mindset change of course, but I think it is essential if we as true human beings are going both survive and grow in any meaningful way.

  • I had an awareness like this before going into my teaching program. It has been difficult to maintain with my students- there are so many of them. Lord, have mercy.

    Thank you for your offering of yourself, Father. Please pray that I will find an answer in my searching monasticism. I feel so entangled now and have little time to just be.

  • The Orthodox are the guardians of the theology and tradition of the immanent, indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit not only in us as human beings, but in all of creation. Conversely, we and the rest of creation rest in the transcendent God Who created us. It is so difficult for we Westerners to realize that individuality and autonomy are self created illusions, having no basis in reality. Our personhood is what defines us, intrinsically connecting us relationally to all humanity, all creation, and to God by grace. “Small explosions of life. Small miracles.” Indeed.

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