It’s hard to pour from a pitcher filled to the brim, and words don’t come easily when life, with its torrents of sorrows and joys, has filled in my legs, my gut, my lungs, up each arm, and it sits, like a tightly-focused tiger, in my throat, peering out, ready to lunge. I will try though; even if I choke on fur.
I find I weep easily now. I’m very glad of that; glad that it is the weeping from deep and raw feelings, not the weeping for slights or stains or such. I was serving once in Mexico City and during a time of morning instruction I accidentally backed up against a lovely pottery mug that was sitting on a ledge. It pitched forward and shattered across the concrete floor. Coffee, shards of lovely blue and white designs; I remember that. The owner of the mug, a missionary in charge of us awkward teenagers, completely lost himself. He was unable to recover from the loss of his mug. I remember him trying to make us understand why this small thing was an enormous loss; he’d had it specially made to replace another one that had broken. His composure was as helplessly shattered as his mug. I felt so guilty, and worse, I felt embarrassed for him. In Chile my friend’s home slid down with a mud slide in the middle of the night, leaving her family homeless. She was shaken, but she held together; she could see tomorrow’s tomorrow. It is one thing for the electric to go out in a violent storm, it’s another for it to go out because a breeze stirred the tree tops.
Some of you know me; you’ve seen me in my habitat; you have a working knowledge of my flaws and what makes me laugh and how little I care for the presentation of my hair, but how I can be deeply embarrassed by dirty floors.
Some know me not at all beyond what black type on white, said just this way, by one voice, can say. I cannot begin to know you either, but our words speak a bit; I feel the air move when a stranger passes and that is all, and words, they move our hearts that way, we sense the nearness and movement of another, a sacred other.
It is raining, and it is pouring. Dear friends are moving away; my closest confidante, my fellow pilgrim in becoming Orthodox, my business partner; we’ve raised a combined 12 children together, all good friends themselves, all with treasured inside jokes, memories, and ways of being. A tenant is $2,500 behind. Taxes are due. Glasses need replaced. Teeth need cleaning. A business that was a lot of work for four hands will now need managed by two, my two hands. It seems the transmission is slipping on our 300,000+ mile Suburban.
Also though, there’s zinnias blooming. There’s the baby reaching for my face and smiling. There’s my brand new foster niece, smelling of heaven, pink and tiny, a whole world in her almond-shaped eyes. There’s the bread I just pulled from the oven, the heat curling my eyelashes back; crust crackling as it hit the cool air.
Stand at the brink of the abyss of despair, and when you see that you cannot bear it anymore, draw back a little and have a cup of tea. ~Elder Sophrony of Essex