Disillusioned Optimism

by Andrea Elizabeth

means to me that things may not go as I’d like, suffering, or worse, numbness and denial, may prevail, hearts may remain cold, society may continue in selfish, individualistic patterns that find meaning in each other less and less, but all is not lost. They can’t kill God, they haven’t killed the Church Militant (I don’t believe), much less the Church Triumphant, and heaven is still at hand.

But that doesn’t mean this life or social trends don’t matter. I’m sure it’s of eternal significance to commune purely with nature nearer its telos such as Elder Porphyrios described of his experiences on Mt. Athos when the hummingbird’s beauty captured him in a remote, pure area. This type of habitat has become scarcer and scarcer as men have become colder, and “progress” has taken over the whole world. Archimandrite Zacharias, from Elder Sophrony’s monastery in Essex, said that it’s harder to find a place to be a hermit anymore. The state of man affects and dilutes us all in this current generation. But what has happened has been prophecied, and is redeemable in the end.

I hope that we at the tail end of society will not be crippled in eternity, and unable to attain theosis to the extent of the early fathers and desert dwellers because we may be impaired in this life. St. Chrysostom in his Paschal homily says that even those let in after no labors should be alowed to commune with the rest, though surely the ascetics who achieved great heights during this life will have some extra benefit. Elder Zacharias also said that in the last days, just going to Church will be a great feat. Perhaps we are the ones who are blessed for not seeing, not that we haven’t, and still believe. (John 24: 20-29)

I hope I haven’t misrepresented my citings. I know some people don’t see hermitish “communing with nature” as the end all of earthly existence as I do, and have other ideals in mind such as more uniform agrarianism or other aspects of traditional cultures which all seem to be falling by the wayside. I’m sure these losses are appropriately grieved over, but Father Roman Braga and others found God in communist prisons, tortured, in total isolation, with hardly a window to let in the sky. So knowing that that’s possible keeps me optimisitic.