HOW TO COME BACK TO YOUR CHILDHOOD?
Sermon on the day of the Monastery’s patron saint venerable Gabriel of Samtavro, 2.11.2021
Just try, it is easy to recall the state you had when you were a child. Not an event, but the state of childhood in your mind, in your heart. This recollection brings such joy and carefreeness. Afterwards the difficulties and problems of adult life appeared and smothered us a little bit. But then, back in our childhood, this state of lightheartedness gave such a sense of freedom that it makes you feel nostalgic for it. You want to experience it once more, but the time has passed.
One may experience this state in a monastic life, through the mystery of obedience. Speaking of childish carelessness, I do not mean idleness, as we used to help – we washed dishes, swept the floor, went shopping. But we did our chores carefreely. We bought a loaf of bread and ate half of it on the way home, forgetting ourselves. This carefreeness gave us simplicity. In monasticism, through the mystery of obedience you can bring this state back – not the state of idleness, but the state of carefreeness, and become little children again. Our parents will take care of us. It’s like when we were kids, our parents took care of everything. And you do what you are told and think good thoughts.
In addition, one may experience this state in a tacit prayer. It feels like when you sit down by the side of your dad, he takes your hand in his, and you sit together silent. You say: “Daddy, and this is…” And he hushes you: “Shhh”. In a few minutes you start to wiggle: “I want to confess”. And he whispers: “Later”. And again you wiggle. “Hush, later, later”. Those people who didn’t pray tacit prayer do not understand what St. Venerable Porphyrios of Kafsokalivia meant when he said that in the tacit prayer even repentance may not be welcome. God may even hush your repentance and then add: “Do not lose this moment of silence, when your hand is in Mine”. At this moment nothing else matters, even our repentance. There are no more problems, it matters neither what you did yesterday nor what you are going to do tomorrow. This is the same state you had in your childhood. As Our Lord says: “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 18:3). All Christians read these words, but there are only a few who experience, I do not use the word “understand”, this state of childhood. When there is a moment of carelessness and you feel your hand in the hand of God, nothing matters. You don’t need to ask Him for anything, as He knows all your needs. Any pleading will disturb the silence. Leave all your concerns to God, He will deal with them. We will wake up and He will say: go buy some milk. This state is very joyful. We have too many concerns, they tear us apart and sometimes make our life unbearable. Thank God, we have it, it is very pleasant to come back to our childhood and unload our worries on to our parents, on Our Heavenly Father, and just live.
Elder Gabriel was a grown up child too, his hand was in the hand of Our Heavenly Father, that is why he could let himself be a child. And even eat half a loaf on the way back from the baker’s, knock something over, because God, as his Father, set him right.