Friday, December 12, 2008

Not an easy patience…

An elder was once asked, "What is a merciful heart?" He replied:

"It is a heart on fire for the whole of creation, for humanity, for the birds, for the animals, for demons, and for all that exists. By the recollection of them the eyes of a merciful person pour forth tears in abundance. By the strong and vehement mercy that grips such a person’s heart, and by such great compassion, the heart is humbled and one cannot bear to hear or to see any injury or slight sorrow in any in creation.

For this reason, such a person offers up tearful prayer continually even for irrational beasts, for the enemies of the truth, and for those who harm her or him, that they be protected and receive mercy. And in like manner such a person prays for the family of reptiles because of the great compassion that burns with without measure in a heart that is in the likeness of God."

St. Isaac of Nineveh (7th century)

I keep thinking that this has to do with this Advent, somehow. The coming of Christ is the coming of God's mercy, and our waiting is the waiting of which Paul speaks in Romans 8.18-25:

I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labour pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

But it's not an easy patience, this waiting of ours. We wait, but we don't even have the words to pray. The Spirit prays in our place, yet even he prays "with sighs to deep for words." (vv 26-27) We know nothing, and in knowing nothing, we come close to knowing God, whose coming is not anything we could frame in words, or thoughts, come to that.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus. Please.


  1. I read this and my mind stills for a moment... Come Lord Jesus, Come.

  2. I was praying earlier and this piece was much on my mind and heart.

    Prayers for you Mike, prayers for us all.