Reflections on the Orthodox faith and life in this crazy 21st century world by an Orthodox priest and a few of his friends.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
A Little Spiritual Help #7: Striving Upwards
Fr. Alexander Men, Russian Orthodox Priest, Author, and Neomartyr (+1990)
I shall never forget the remarkable words about truth spoken by the simple Himalayan mountaineer Tensing, the Sherpa who climbed Everest with [the New Zealander] Hillary. He said that we must approach mountains with reverence, and God in the same way. Indeed mountains demand a certain mindset in order to grasp their magnificence and their beauty. Truth lies hidden from people who rush at it without reverence, who set out unprepared, disregarding the dangers, precipices and crevasses.
It is the mark of human history to strive upwards. You may well object: think how many steps there have been leading downwards. Yes, of course; at first glance there are more steps leading downwards; more people who have fallen and rolled down into the abyss. But the important thing is that human beings have all the same kept attempting to climb to this summit above the clouds, and the greatness of humanity lies in the fact that people have the capacity to reach the peaks of intellectual and spiritual contemplation, to reach what Pushkin called "the neighborhood of God. "
Human beings have two countries, two homelands. One is our own country, that place where each of us was born and grew up. But the other is that hidden world of the spirit which the eye may not see and the ear may not hear but where, by our nature, we belong. We are children of the earth and at the same time visitors to it...and contact with God is possible...Christ calls people to bring the divine ideal to reality.
Father Alexander Men, Christianity for the Twenty-first Century (lecture given September 8, 1990 - the night before he was murdered).
Russian version published in 1992; English translation from Christianity for the Twenty-first Century: The Prophetic Writings of Fr. Alexander Men, Edited by Elizabeth Roberts and Ann Shukman, pages 181,183 & 185. Continuum Publishing, New York.