Bonnie and I got back from Saskatoon yesterday. Today we are recovering. After matins, I took a two-hour nap. Today at matins we commemorated the leave-taking of the feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God. One of the things I like about the hymns for the feasts of the Mother of God is that they focus on the mystery of God’s greatness being held in human smallness. For me, one of my biggest struggles is to continue to believe that despite my smallness and sinfulness God is willing to dwell in me. Some kind of false humility in me wants to argue that this is not possible. That is, I want to say that the distance between who and what God is and I am is too great for God to transcend. Such a thought only appears to be humble, but it is really arrogant. It is saying that there is something God cannot do.
We know that God transcends because we have the evidence of the Incarnation and the Mother of God. God “dwells in Her ever-virgin womb.” I think that means the same thing as a pure heart— “a humble and contrite heart God does not despise.” The problem is not God’s ability to transcend. The problem is my ability to attend to God’s presence. I think that is what prayer is mostly about: learning to attend to the heart–we might even say womb–to the place where God dwells in human beings. The pure heart can be likened to the ever-virginal womb of Mary.
One of the things I don’t like about traveling is that my rhythm of life and discipline of prayer is interrupted. I love seeing my daughters and grandchildren and I enjoy a being with friends and doing new things (like driving a combine harvester) a great deal, but the busyness of it all along with the lack of a disciplined prayer routine keep the mirror of my heart cloudy, the only mirror in which I can see the face of Jesus Christ and be saved. God does not abandon me. I can pray a little around the edges. I can say the Jesus Prayer driving the combine–until it jams and I have to “shut ‘er down,” climb down and try to figure out how to unjam it. God does not abandon me in the godly conversations I am able to have here and there with family and others. It must be the faith of the one speaking to me that I am able to say a word or two that seems to encourage them.
It’s good to be home.