Sketching Holiness: St. Paisios the Athonite — lessons from a monastery

“Grumbling is caused by misery and it can be put aside by doxology (giving praise). Grumbling begets grumbling and doxology begets doxology. When someone doesn’t grumble over a problem troubling him, but rather praises God, then the devil gets frustrated and goes off to someone else who grumbles, in order to cause everything to go […]

Sketching Holiness: St. Paisios the Athonite — lessons from a monastery

Wise words from a wise saint.

I’m in Hell on Earth

The things we say, the things we do… they all cause. In each action we cause good, or we cause ill, trouble, or something we do not always intend to happen. This is why our intentions are important, for our intention can differentiate between whether or not we sin or we defend, protect or harm.

With that said, the “road to hell is paved with good intentions.” (first published by Henry G. Bohn’s “A Handbook of Proverbs.”)

I’m worried because I am convinced that I have built up a ‘hell-on-earth’ around me which causes another greater fear in my heart: the fear of salvation and the desire to spend my eternity with God. And I know that if I continue living like I do, that’s not what my eternal reward will be. For example, I cannot wear myself thin nor to the point where the veil is shredded between this life and the next in order to ensure that everyone else is okay.

I find it awful easy to judge myself to be in a good disposition, to be strong for those whom I love and to hoist myself up as some sort of solid rock they can all grasp to, then I remember that I am not God. Easy it is to imagine that my tether could keep someone fully grounded, that my love enough would blot out every trickle of anxiety that assaults them – when I, myself, am asphyxiated by discontent and a sickening restlessness.

But, I promise: I’m trying. Perhaps in the past I have not articulated, really, the uneasiness that is my cross. Throughout my life I have dealt with more loss than gain and I’m only in my twenties. Having a family that is primarily of an older generation, death is frequent. Belonging to a generation in which depression and despair is rampant, like one ever-descending icicle. I’ve found myself trying to be the main-station for all. I can not do that. It is not my purpose either.

I will help as much as I can, but often enough, I need help as well. I’m reflecting upon these past two years in particular. My eyes have been closed and my own, personal descent down-hill hidden from my sight yet so palpable to those around me. No kindling remains lit in the fire, yet the lights are on and nobody is home, lyset er på, men ingen er hjemme, some might say.

So I admit defeat and I have no shame in saying it, either. God will build me up again, like anything that falls.

Five months ago I drove into the ocean and ruined my car, but as soon as those waves crashed over me I also felt the love of God consume my heart and soul and I knew that what I was doing was wrong. I called my mother to get me, and we towed the car out because, thank God, the water was shallow, more shallow than my thinking and selfishness. The wharf is down from a grotto of Our Lady, so I tried under her very eyes to end my life and she dragged me right back to start it again.

I sought counselling afterwards, it didn’t work. Twenty-two years old and already at rock bottom. There are scars on my body that no intellectual could ever decipher, there are words I have said that no book ought to have written in them. I’ve cried enough, wept enough, to give the banshee a run for money. But I did one thing at least, one thing: I “raged against the dying of the light.”

I never want to think like that again. I never want to feel those dregs of vexation and depression. In that one moment, I figured I would be bringing myself to my true home, to true happiness…but in reality, how quite the opposite would the reality have been!? I have lost a lot. I have lost so much in my life, and the road has never been an easy one, but how dare I become someone else’s loss as well? Not only that, I would be a loss unto myself and the glory of God.

Pray for me, my friends. I will keep writing. On March 2nd, I’ll be going to a place for some help, a hospital of sorts but one that treats cancer of the heart and mind rather than of the body. I won’t be ashamed when I go, and I won’t be afraid to admit to my weakness which is my own, but I will rejoice in my strength which is God’s.