Friday, February 29, 2008

The Desert and the Suburbs

A reflection from Bishop Nikolai's Prologue from Ohrid:
Why do people leave one place and move to another? Mainly because they hope to be happier in the other place. And, from the point of view of earthly life and contentment, places can indeed be different, better or worse. He who has no hope of a better life after death seeks a better sensual pasture in this life. But if you look into the hearts of the people who have settled themselves in the so-called 'best places' on this terrestrial sphere, you will perceive discontent, sorrow and despair. They have not found what they were looking for. They fed to satiation everywhere and, in the end, still hungry, looked into the eyes of death.

But look at the Christian saints! They chose the least verdant places, 'dry, impassable and waterless,' lonely and terrible places that attracted the least attention and that no-one would wish to possess. They regarded all places on earth as equally without value, but chose these places solely in order to draw nearer in mind and spirit to their eternal home. And if one were to look into their hearts, one would perceive joy and contentment.
Photos: Karoulia on Mount Athos (if you look very closely you can see the cells of hermit monks); the suburbs.

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