Fr. Andrew Lemeshonok: “We Need to Awake from Our Sleep!”

By Fr. Andrew Lemeshonok

When I anoint or sprinkle people with Holy water, I feel the depth of every person standing in front of me; there are so many things inside of this person: pain, joy, contradictions, sin, and God's mercy! Man has this all mixed up in him. And when you begin to unravel it - you get confused. Therefore, it is very important for us not to make it more complicated, but to be able to free ourselves from our selfishness, get rid of today’s bewilderments and misunderstandings in order to find God and see the light. Just like when you turn on a lightbulb and it gets brighter, the light falls onto people and illuminates everything. The same thing happens in our lives: we need to find the light to see who we really are and accept our life’s circumstances. It will keep us from making the wrong decisions and actions that could cause our further destruction. We are mistaken if we choose to close ourselves off, because leading such a sheltered life will not allow us to serve God.

You need to see your neighbor. You need to see the person next to you. You have to open up your heart for one, for two people. People who managed to break the shackles of time ended up having a big heart where able to embrace all of humanity and support it together with their prayers, their pain, joy and sorrow. Only imagine what a great challenge it is for an Orthodox Christian to get away from their selfish world and enter the world of God, the history of mankind, and, moreover, you are there not only as a spectator, but you actively participate in it. Here we are looking at the history: the creation of man, the fall of Adam, the Tower of Babel, the return of the prodigal son, Zacchaeus climbing a tree, a publican who comes into the church and says: "God, be merciful to me a sinner" (Luke 18: 13). We enter this world, we live in it and we must be able to give up all the worldly cares, leave all our fantasies behind and start a new life together with God.

It is vital for us to experience real life, God's beauty, the love of God! We need to start to show sign of life, movement: to do something in order to wake up from our dazed state. I gave advice to one of our sisters (her inner state is quite bad, she is torturing herself and she looks really hopeless): "Come on, get up, turn on the cold water in your tap and stand under it for a minute. I am sure, it will make a difference:  you will be cold, it will wake you up, your face will change - you will no longer be standing with such a grim face under the icy water. It will be your small victory. "You have to do something about your inner state, you have to move, do you understand what I mean? Instead, you look like frozen mummies: motionless...  It is awful to see a young man at his forties who finds it hard to live, that’s crazy!  Hopefully, there are elderly people here like our sister Lydia, look at her - she is so beautiful! I think she is one of the youngest sisters in our convent. How old is she? Seventy-two. And you ask me why? Because she has life in her eyes, she is living, she has interests, she cares. That is what is important.

June 18, 2018
St. Elisabeth Convent