Held Back

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When a sparrow tied by the leg tries to fly, it is held back by the string and pulled down to the earth. Similarly, when the intellect that has not yet attained dispassion flies up towards heavenly knowledge, it is held back by the passions and pulled down to the earth.  

 

          Reading the daily Bible readings, I have often prayed to have words move me, pierce me even. Sometimes, that prayer is answered; often not. Last Monday was a not day, and that made me wince a little. Anyone walking in the dark desires light. How can you know where to go or where not to, where to place your foot and where to draw back – unless there is light shining out the path ahead?

          So, I asked God to move my heart with His word.

          Instead, every word slid off me. Nothing stuck nor stirred.

          Why? I asked God.

          Then, an old friend brought this answer,

          When a sparrow tied by the leg tries to fly, it is held back by the string and pulled down to the earth. Similarly, when the intellect that has not yet attained dispassion flies up towards heavenly knowledge, it is held back by the passions and pulled down to the earth.   ~   St. Maximos the Confessor

          What passions did I have? I wondered even as I recognised the truth of it. Was it the small bit of glee I had that we were finally going to change the living room sofa to a colour I liked after 10 years of my husband’s choice? Did the thinking about slipcovers and maintenance and chair positions constitute passions? And anyway, wasn’t this way better than constantly pulling out my hair over work issues?

          The reply to that came soon enough. It wasn’t the new couch. My leaden passions referred to my heightened busyness and preoccupation with work plans and deadlines. Despite the great calm inside me and my cheeriness at work and in work, there was too much of work filling up my soul.

          Taking up space that it shouldn’t.

          Biting my lip as I stared at this truth, I wondered what to do. I wasn’t stretching myself thin; whatever work I was busy with was work that needed to be done.

          Again, St. Maximos intervened. He took me back to an old post from almost 4 years ago, to old problems with superiors which remained still, hurting and grating even now. St. Maximos led me to his old words for me,

To the extent that you pray with all your soul for the person who slanders you, God will make the truth known to those who have been scandalized by the slander.

          And that very day, I began to pray Blood of Christ prayers for superiors and colleagues who continue to make life difficult for everyone.

          Prayer didn’t lesson the amount of work I needed to do. But suddenly, work didn’t take up the space in my heart that it did before. While it was a constant presence, even following me home, I didn’t feel anchored to it.

          And as I continued those Blood of Christ prayers, I felt the first stirrings of a new sign for the year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8 comments

  1. Prayer does work miracles within our hearts. The more we talk to God, the more things we seem to understand. Just as we console our children when they are hurt or lost, God longs to console us. He does enlarge our hearts and souls so we have room for His love to grow within us. There will always be thorns that pierce us, people who try to blind us from the truth. Still, the love of God lives on within us, ever leading us on…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We lose so much when we draw the blinds and shut the door against God’s Light – which we sometimes do unintentionally. This year, I hope to check myself more often than in the past, that the doors and windows to my spirit do not stay shut and locked😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have seen my prayers soften my heart towards difficult colleagues. All I do is send God’s love to them when I think of them (worry about them is more like it). It helps me to have compassion for them, and to stop believing they are all about hurting me. It works to ease the pain of our difficulties.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I certainly agree about that aspect of prayer – its power to soften and mellow or completely erase the strongest anger and hurt.
        However, although I forgive relatively easily, I’m not so easily and readily inclined to compassion towards those who continually abuse me. One offs are much easier to deal with than sustained suffering at the hands of bullies! A softness of heart towards such people is really difficult for me.
        But over the years, I began to learn something – that no matter how upset I am with someone, it needn’t hold me back from praying the prayer that God wants me to pray for them. God rarely moves me to pray blessings and good things for those who hurt me deeply (I think He knows how hard that is for me 😀 ) but He often ‘takes the back route’ with me, leading me to other kinds of specific prayers, and when I finally bend in obedience and pray that way, peace returns to my heart.
        God is truly a father!

        Like

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