Let me tell you a story. It’s a long story, though. It’s going to be told in more than one part because you probably won’t be able to hear all of it today. It’s a beautiful story, but it’s also a sad story. The good thing, though, is that the story is not actually over, and a happy ending is very possible. Actually, the happy ending is preferred, and you will find out that you have a say in how it ends.
The following is an excerpt from Yann Martel’s, Life of Pi, when the protagonist has finished telling his extraordinary tale of survival:
“If you stumble at mere believability, what are you living for? Isn’t love hard to believe?”
“Don’t you bully me with your politeness! Love is hard to believe, ask any lover. Life is hard to believe, ask any scientist. God is hard to believe, ask any believer. What is your problem with hard to believe?”
“We’re just being reasonable.”
“So am I! I applied my reason at every moment. Reason is excellent for getting food, clothing and shelter. Reason is the very best tool kit. Nothing beats reason for keeping tigers away. But be excessively reasonable and you risk throwing out the universe with the bathwater.”
I have hesitated at doing what I want to do in this “story” that I’m going to tell. I wanted to bring some of the Theology of books like “On the Incarnation”, while retelling the stories and traditions that we have received from the Holy Bible. In doing this there was a great fear that using the word ‘story’ might reduce the Truths that these stories hold to being mere tale-telling, fiction. That somehow the “story” would become less believable because it’s a ‘story’.
Yet, to borrow again a concept from Yann Martel, it’s like what I am trying to say is, “let me tell you a story that even though it is not true, it is true”. What I mean here, is that while I might give characters life or create a dialogue between them, give them new names or new looks, the story underneath it is a true story. Stories are valuable for us to understand truths. This has been the tradition of humanity since we were capable of communication.
The mere recounting of an experience is the telling of a story, and consequently, we ought not to look at story-telling with contempt. Story-telling does not make belief laughable, as story-telling is what all humans are doing all over the world, all the time. That does not make their stories false.
I want this story to be simple, because our story is simple. Our God issimple. The Covenant is simple. I want anyone of any age to understand the foundations and promises of Love.
I will begin with some foundational blocks before going into recounting the stories of humanities encounters with our God. Feel free to send feedback, or to request elaborations on concepts.
Pray for me.
The recent passing of several giants has grieved me. There were the passings of Fathers Feltaous and Mettaous of the Syrian Monastery, then the passing of Anba Mikhail of Assiut. These and others, to me, symobolise the ending of a great era, a loss of giants. Hearing the news of Abouna Fanous el Anba Bola today, only added to this feeling. With every passing generation, I fear, humanly, that there’s a rich tradition that dies with them. I feel that there are secrets and mysteries that are symbolically lost forever. There are ways that are not explained, and stories that are untold. They are the ones that link us to the past, that tell us of the monks of old and can see with clarity the monks of our generation. They were stalwart pillars of the philosophy of monasticism, and no longer can they, in the flesh, transmit ancient truths to us modern hearers. I pray He raises up a new generation from among us.
Abbâ Muthues used to say that there were three brethren who were in the habit of coming to Abbâ Antony, and that two of them used to ask him questions about the thoughts, and about life, and redemption, and the discretion (or intelligence) of the soul, whilst the third one held his peace continually. And after a long time Abbâ Antony said unto him, “Brother, thou comest here each year, and askest nothing!” And he answered and said unto the old man, “It is sufficient for me to see thee.”
The Paradise or Garden of the Holy Fathers (Vol. 2, p. 189)
“He who walks with wise men becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm” (Proverbs 13:20)
Kareem Elgawly: February 1, 1992 – September 5, 2014
Every mother has a story. Every mother came from somewhere, and where she came from affects how she raises her children and interacts with her husband. One mother, however, the mother of all of us, has a story that I think is awe-inspiring. The volumes that are written and could be written about our blessed mother, the Theotokos, the God-bearer and the Christ-Bearer, are countless. She’s not just some lady that got lucky. No, we know that God was waiting for the day that ‘the time had fully come’ before He entered into the world.
In a room, at the outskirts of a city, a young woman, 21 years, is giving birth to her first child, her baby girl. Her sisters, mother, and female cousins and friends are all around her. They console her, they squeeze her hand, and they also laugh that “knowing laugh”, while she screams in pain. They are all familiar with the joy of motherhood, the joy that comes after the pain. Some of the girls have not yet had children, but this attending experience is something that brings them fear, curiosity, and excitement.