Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Jesus Prayer

You know how the pilgrim felt saying the Jesus Prayer?  That pure joy with the pain in his heart?  I know that's true, because I've felt that twice.  The first time it happened, I'd been walking around for hours at night in utter despair, saying the Jesus Prayer, over and over like a zombie.  I wasn't expecting any mercy or anything at all, I was just completely overcome with hopelessness.  Then it was like I began to rise up out of it.  It was surprising.  It was weird.  It was completely unexpected, and when it happened, I couldn't quite believe it.  I kept going up and up and up, until I was overcome with joy.  I didn't know what to make of it.  Everything was suddenly all right!  It was amazing.  Just flat out amazing.  I kept walking, and then I felt that pain in my heart, like it was described... like a hot nail.  It wasn't intense, so I don't think I was very far into a real state of prayer; just at the beginning.  But it was still recognizably there, and I remembered the pilgrim, and I put it all together, and I almost lost it all because I got so excited.  But the state persisted until I got home, and got in bed, and closed my eyes, and drifted off in the most blissful state of contentment I'd ever felt.

The next day I was so excited when I woke up.  I couldn't wait to get outside and walk so I could say the Jesus Prayer again, over and over.  I reached a similar state of bliss, again.  Everything was beautiful, and there was nothing wrong with anything, anywhere, and everything was just indescribably joyous and beautiful and right.  I spent the day like that and on into the evening, but I didn't get the pain in my heart that time.

The next day I was determined to do it again, but it never quite caught that time.  After that, I just kind of forgot about it.  I've tried to get that back again, but have never been able to since then.  That was back in April of 2010.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A problem

I wrote the other day about being stuck.  Well, that's certainly true, I'm stuck for sure.  It's a problem, and a tough one.

A few of years ago I had the first inkling of a feeling of an urge to become a monastic.  It was back during the summer of '09, when I was talking to someone who was telling me how they would like to visit a monastery.  It was a very tiny little realization of a thought, but it was definitely there; that first hint of a desire to become a monk.  Later that year, while I was attending a vespers service in Tyler - it was October of '09 - I had another epiphany, and for a while after that, I recognized that old feeling again, but this time it was a desire to become a priest, or a deacon, or something.  A reader, maybe... I'm pretty sure I'd like to be tonsured as a reader, at least.  Anyway, that was back when I thought I was going to be married soon, but since that relationship ended back in April of '10, I've thought more and more about moving to a monastery to see if that kind of life suited me.  The feeling that I should become a priest has subsided a lot.  I don't think I'd make a very good one, but what the heck do I know?  The urge to move towards monasticism, however... that one has been growing for the past three years.  I've prayed often for God to make this feeling stronger and more clear in me if it was His will that I should become a monk.

Lately the desire to check out a monastery has been growing, becoming stronger and stronger.  There are times when I'm absolutely sure that's what I want to do, to become a monk and live a simple solitary life saying the Jesus Prayer constantly.  Maybe even a hermit.  The problem is, I'm stuck.  I'm an addict... I'm addicted to drugs, alcohol, caffeine, food, comfort, and everything else material.  If I could just get rid of my need for substances though... if I could just eradicate that from my life, there would be no obstacle that I would feel that I couldn't overcome which would stop me from just moving to a monastery flat out and abandoning society.  It's the addiction that is the clincher.  It's a problem, and a tough one.

If I could just get out from under this problem, I think everything would be ok.

A dream - Some kind of explosion

Clint and I were touring a factory that made chocolate, and we watched huge chunks of it going down these ramps into machines that just tore them into component atoms for processing.  I thought it was a little more than was needed for chocolate, but what did I know?  I imagined a human going into one, and was immediately horrified.  I couldn't help it.  I kept imagining it.  I mentioned it to Clint, and he agreed... yup, that's horrible.  The tour ended and we were outside.  It was a nice campus, in California somewhere, with modern glass buildings and tended grass and ordered pathways.  There were a lot of people around, everyone going about their business.  Then somebody started yelling, and he ran by and brushed me slightly as he passed, and he was yelling for everyone to get back inside, get back inside, now!  I looked around and people were confused, and starting to panic.  I looked for Clint, but he was gone.  I ran up one of the paths to the top of a hill near one of the buildings so I could get a better view of what was going on.  I saw a few flashes, like lightening, and then felt something pulling on my arm.  I looked down, and little kid, about 5, was gripping my hand for dear life.  I got to the top of the hill and could see across the valley, which was being lit intermittently.  I dashed for the safety of a nearby building and the kid got left behind.  Then there was a blinding flash and the loudest sound ever, and extreme heat.