5 December 1947
I received your cordial note. I was happy with your last words: 'I am not troubled at all, but peaceful'. According to the Holy Fathers, that is how it should be: if you falter in some virtue, you must not tremble; if you fall - get up; if you fall again, get up again; and so on till the final hour of death.
'O Lord, glory to thy mercy. Great is thy goodness, that Thou hast given
repentance to us sinners, for Thou didst come to earth not for the righteous,
but for us sinners.'
You did draw up pure water, but a toad had unexpectedly got into the well. Throw it away and the life-giving water will still be pure. I am glad that you have begun to get at the root of the meaning of the spiritual life. It is a great blessing that the Holy Fathers have left us advice based on their own experience. Look at the books more often.
The Lord keep you; be saved. "
Perseverance in the spiritual life is also necessary for its successful consummation. As Father John tells his spiritual child here to keep getting back up after a fall(which is inevitable) each and every time until the hour of "the sleep" comes before her.
Which brings an important question before us: Why a spiritual life? I mean this especially for myself as at times I'm confronted with the seeming futility of it all, even the questioning of our Faith and at times the Doubt can creep to within bone and marrow and question whether even God exists.
As the idealism exhausts itself and the actual trudging of the spiritual life sets in to replace it, these type of questions present themselves more and more. The appeal of the aesthetic aspect of the Orthodox Faith as an end in itself is fading. I did not know this was a fuel for my continuing until I began(I believe) maturing in the Faith a bit more.
This is not to say I recognize no longer the beauty I am confronted with in our Holy Faith, but I believe myself to being led out of "childish things" into perhaps an "attaining to the stature of Christ". I will not state this dogmatically of myself because to tell the truth, I don't know. I've been made to see often enough over time how prone to delusion I can be that "What's really going on" I can no longer be as accurate a judge with. Consequently, I just try to show up each day for the day and try to live within it as Christ.
In this, I fail miserably. I often lapse in my prayers, in my thoughts, in my words, in the warmth of my heart being continually fanned. I fail in knowing how badly I fail.
Yet, I am told to get back up. Do it again. Keep doing it. Grope towards Him and ask for His mercy.
Father Thomas Hopko, in his Word of the Cross, speaks at one point that our Lord, when He was about to give up the ghost, did not know, as a man, what to expect beyond the threshold of life. When He died, in other words, He was entering into "new territory", and though He knew the Scripture, that He would rise again, He had only faith in His Father that it would be so. But terror of terrors, He asked "Why hast Thou forsaken Me" of this Father in Whom He had placed His hope in to raise Him. "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him".
Walk then, we must, through this land of shadows, as did our Lord. He, the Son of Man, showed us and lived moment by moment reliance and trust in God. He asks that in living our Holy Faith, in living Him, that we persevere, get up.