I’ve been really struggling to pray in the mornings. I’ve been in to talk with both of my priests recently, and with one I talked a great deal about prayer. With both I talked a great deal, about a great many things — all somehow related, yet in ways that didn’t seem to fully connect for me at the time. Finally, a couple of weeks ago in my reading, I came across the following passage:
Just as the desert was a commitment to a counter-cultural way of life, so too prayer is the realization that what matters most is not success or the achievement or the productivity encouraged by society. Prayer is acceptance of frailty and failure — first within ourselves, and then to the world around us. When we are able to accept our brokenness, without any pretense and without any pretexts, then we are able to embrace the brokenness of others, valuing everyone else without exception. Prayer is learning to live, without expecting to see results; it is learning to love, without hoping to see return; it is learning to be, without demanding to have.
– “In the Heart of the Desert”, John Chryssavgis, pg. 98
Everything they said has started to make sense. I’ve always realized that I was broken, but I don’t accept it hardly at all. I want to try to “be perfect as the Father in heaven is perfect”. The problem with the former sentence is the “I”. I can’t do it, because, of course, I’m broken. He will have to do the perfecting, the fixing, the healing. Acceptance of frailty and failure — this is a tall order for this man…
I’m thankful for the many examples of this in the church. The one closest to my mind right at this moment is the saint whose blessed memory we celebrated today, Saint Nektarios the Wonderworker, Bishop of Pentapolis. After reading his life (just over a year ago), I fell in love with this beautiful saint who is so humble, and is a modern example of how to live this out (it has been 86 years now since his falling asleep). We had a beautiful liturgy this morning and it was especially poignant to sing of his memory at Orthros with his life in my mind. While I highly recommend reading his life (Saint Nektarios: The Saint of our Century by Soitos Chondropoulos), you can also find out a great deal about him from this online mini biography.
I pray that someday I’m able to learn even a little of this kind of humility.