July 24, 2022
One of the signs of maturity when I was younger or maybe just being considered less of a baby was getting up the nerve to jump off the merry go-round at the play ground while rotating at warp speed. The experience began with much hesitation as older kids were always spinning the steel death wheel as fast as their little legs could run. One day I climbed aboard, probably a triple-dog-dare, and as I sat there watching everything spin around and around, I became very dizzy and removed from the world for a bit of time, sternly focused on the immediate situation I was in and holding ever so tightly to the steel support bars. Jumping off this distracted path and a return to normality with two feet firmly planted on the ground was looking like a blessing and it seemed as the only path to survival. And as I jumped with the air I had remaining in my lungs, I shared my very best Tarzan yell! Once recovered from the dizziness and the skinned knees the situation became a lot more peaceful and a since of accomplishment was earned; I was now one of the throng!
Even after all of these years I still find myself at times back on that merry-go-round spinning out of control. Sometimes as I am driving around or any time when my mind starts processing others people actions or responses, I feel like I am back on that round beast clutching the steel rails once again. Thoughts entering my mind of others failures and faults, is this the way I love my brother? When I finally catch myself spinning out of control and prepare to jump off, I say “Lord Have Mercy” (Psalm 122/123) or “Get Thee Behind Me Satan”.(Matt 16:23) These expressions are much more powerful than my Tarzan yell and I then feel a release from that brain spin and return once again to my path of Christianity! Oh God, cleanse me a sinner! (Psalm 50/51:2)
You know when you spend your time thinking about other people’s issues you are being distracted and forcibly pushed right back on that merry-go-round! And there are times when those unclean thoughts and UnGodly images begin bombarding my peace of mind; there I am again on the merry-go-round. Jumping off that deathtrap and with the words of Saint Peter I cry out: Lord save me! (Matt 14:30) Taking immediate action as Saint Silouan the Athonite instructs us: “In order to abide in the love of God it is essential for anger and ‘hate’ to attain their maximum intensity but be directed against the sin that lives in me, against the evil active in me – in me, not in my brother.”
You see, my mind has a playground of its own and I need to direct it to those activities and thoughts that lead me to holiness. We have to take control and supervise that freedom, spinning and dizziness can be harmful for our salvation! Elder Thaddeus describes it this way: “If our thoughts are kind, peaceful, and quiet, turned only to the good, then we also influence ourselves and radiate peace all around us - in our family, the whole country, everywhere. This is true not only here on earth, but in the cosmos as well. When we labor in the fields of the Lord, we create harmony. Divine harmony, peace, and quiet spread everywhere.” (Elder Thaddeus of Vitnovica)
The sinful woman in the Gospel reading from St. Luke who “washed Christ’s feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head” (Luke 7 36-50) was taking action through love. It seems as though she had found peace and was not distracted by her past failings or by the mumblings of those around her who knew her sinfulness. Our Lord tells Simon “for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.” [Lk. 7:47] And in that love Christ is hoping we all will find, we are encouraged by St. Seraphim of Sarov when he instructs us to: “Acquire the Spirit of Peace and a thousand souls around you will be saved.” Maybe in time we all can stop climbing aboard the merry-go-round and focus our thoughts on our how we can love much with a full alabaster flask in every situation we find ourselves in!
Fr. Gabriel Weller 7-25-2022
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