I had a reverie around the time of Pascha. My life has had many chapters. I have loved friends and lost friends. My memory is filled with much that is bittersweet – not my favorite flavor. But my reverie was a dream of Pascha – the Last Pascha. I wrote this in a Facebook post and have looked it up numerous times for balm for my tired soul. Today, I wanted more balm. So I’m posting this to share it with you. If it helps, that is well. If it doesn’t, then ignore the reverie of an old man. And have peace. And do not quit singing.
The Last Pascha.
It dawns and everyone is there. And we can’t quite remember what we might have had against each other. We’re so glad to see faces that we know. Memory fades like the pains in our bones as we stand with joy and see the Face of Christ. In the light of His Face, only the present has any reality. All things become present in Him. And a sound is heard, first in the distance, but we can’t quite figure where in the distance, and it draws nearer…
It is a song being sung. It seems strange though familiar and then I seem to know the words and I’m surprised at the sound and the strength of my own voice and how it interacts with every other voice, no two singing the same tune and yet it’s one song. Everyone hears it in their own language. It is the Song of the Lamb.
And since every moment is present, there is no sense of how long we have been singing or how long we will sing. But in the Song, everything comes right. The creation beneath our feet begins to awaken. And the Song is taken up by trees and rocks, rivers and sky, until all of creation sings.
And slowly, the motion of a Dance…
I love this. I want this song & this dance. Thank you for this word picture.
This is how I feel when I stand before the Icon of the Resurrection, and I see His hand grasping Adam’s outstretched hand… the look on Adam’s face… I long for that day more than all others…
Wonderful. This will be my contemption for a season.
Blessings in Christ.
Beautiful! Thank you, Fr. Stephen!
An astounding description of how God’s encounter effects the encounter of all else in the most heavenly manner… All love (and forgiveness) on the ‘horizontal plane’ springs from love soaring on the ‘vertical plane’ and grateful response to God’s love and mercy. I find this most interesting.
The practical application of this is no ‘reverie’, it’s highly pragmatic…:
Unceasing mindfulness of God’s mercy is, indeed, the surest path leading to compassion towards others. This is an effortless compassion, consisting of acceptance and forgiveness of all. With the added aid of the relentless practice of the Jesus Prayer, it painlessly spawns complete forgiveness here and now – of that which is eventually recognised as no more than our neighbour’s mere “hundred pence” owed us (Matthew 18:28), even if the world might consider their debt to us exceedingly grave. Such a disposition is an immediate corollary of pure gratefulness for God’s freely offered forgiveness, a response to His pardoning of the “ten thousand talents” we are fully aware of owing Him, and is manifested as overflowing magnanimousness towards all; it is, however, predominantly fostered in solitude, and cultivated in prayerful stillness before the presence of the Lord.
This is a path that starts with the endeavour of our relationship towards God and eventually effects our relationship towards all else.
I find it even more noteworthy that a comparable mechanism is at work when considering the far greater gift of ‘perfect and universal love’ for all creation [this is the second commandment, or rather that commandment’s supreme ‘hypostatic’ perfection], and how it is only ever bestowed to a person as a consequence of their labour for the sake of acquiring love towards God [the first commandment] – again, mainly in stillness and solitude. This might, at the surface, seem contrary to what St John asserts in his First Epistle concerning loving one’s brother first, whom one sees, as proof of loving God, whom one sees not; however, as Saint Issac the Syrian gracefully and cogently explains, “Without wine [i.e.: the love towards God – cultivated away from ‘the sea of this world’ as he strongly asserts] no one can get drunk [i.e.: acquire that perfect, ‘luminous love of all humanity’] nor will his heart leap with joy without inebriation in God”.
Thank you for sharing, Fr. Stephen. This is a little bit like the way I feel on Holy Thursday, when I am startled to realize that the matins with the twelve Gospels is “already” over!
There is definitely something about Holy Week.
Forgive this observation if it doesn’t fit with the experience of others. BUT…. for us Orthodox Christians, there’s just something about struggling through Great Lent — no matter how poorly we fasted — and then moving through each day of Holy Week, and then Holy Saturday when we know Our Lord’s Body rested quietly but His Soul surely didn’t! And finally, on Pascha morning when we hear the cry, “Christ is Risen!”
THIS is why I’m still an Orthodox Christian. In spite of all the struggles and difficulties throughout Lent. THIS is why our Faith goes deeper and wider than any other Christian Confession I’ve ever encountered! Glory to our Saviour!
I too appreciate your reflections. I’m reminded of the times I have been with good people in the wee hours of the morning – and there was no crisis. Everyone’s guard is down and the filters are off. We are in the spirit of loving each other; we are softened and open to communion. Achieving these moments come at a cost, but the costs are overwhelmingly worth it. For that brief space of time everyone loves each other and Heaven is at least imaginable if not quite glimpsed.
Thanks for sharing this.
Thank you for the verbal images !
It reminded me of a time years ago. I was at a Retreat Center in rural Louisiana seated on a bench under 500 year old oak trees, looking down a garden walk lined with Gardenia Bushes, it was early in the morning, slight breeze moving the tops of the trees, at the end of the walk was a statue of the Theotokas. As I completed going through my morning prayers a “peace and quite” seemed to descend on the entire world; the exact opposite of the 9th plague in Exodus 10:21 – “the Darkness that could be felt.” This was the peace and silence that could be felt as the “complete peace of the Holy Spirit” descended on this portion of the world as it was in Genesis 3, before the first sin. I did not hear the song – but it is where I go in memory to “re-feel” the “presence of the Lord.” No noise, no surprises just calmness and peace and completeness. Again Thank you for your words and for rekindling the memories.
What do you mean “if” this helps?
With simple words a detailed picture is etched.
And after one is inside the picture . . .
the light! . . .
His presence! . . .
the voices! . . .
the singing! . . .
the energy! . . .
Creation . . . whole . . . re-birthed . . . and one.
The picture of where I want to be.
The song I long to sing.
My wife’s sister’s husband’s mother just fell asleep. I think I will share this with him so he can walk into the picture and hear the singing. Maybe he will hear his mother’s voice.
There is no better way to describe the Second Coming as the Last Pascha! No dispensionslizm, no other approach to the Revelations in any Western angle explain what simply the Holy Spirit revealed to F. Freemen. What comes from heaven is always beautiful!!!!!