Spiritual life is about simplicity.
The first thing that our Saviour and John the Baptist preached to the people was repentance. They were saying: "Repent, as the Kingdom of God is approaching (Matthew 3:2; Matthew 4: 17). Following in the footsteps of the Saviour and John the Baptist, the Church has always called for repentance.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky wrote that if everyone repented, there would be paradise on earth. We are all looking to paradise, but it eludes us, as we often understand it from a human and earthly perspective. At best, we may succeed in achieving a degree of visible wealth. By no longer needing God amid the wealth, many find themselves in the middle of Hades. Life in the spirit and the soul begins with one's acceptance of one's neighbour and achieving inner peace. Only then could we put our situations into perspective, make sense of our lives and the world around us, and out our relationships in order.
Reading the life of Saint Makarios of Optina, we are impressed by the simplicity of his relationship with his disciples. The disciple puts his trust in the elder and practises humility and obedience. Today, patience, humility and obedience are seen as irrelevant, a thing of the past and contrary to our needs. Some are sighing, a bit nostalgically, that the Church is not as it used to be, and there few elders left. Interestingly, people were saying the same more than a hundred years ago. Others were flocking to the elders by the thousands. Someone who is not interested in salvation will always find a justification for his reluctance, or some fault in the present-day Church or its people. But when we seek God, we can reach out and get help at any place and time. As Elder Paisios says, we may be like flies or like bees: a fly will look for filth and dirt, while a bee will manage to find something good even among the filth and make it into honey. We all have a choice to make: what to pay attention to, which path to take, and what to seek in our lives - and bear with the results of our choices: whether we are going to live as Christians, in peace and calm, or we look elsewhere. We may find peace and calm only by repenting, admitting our misdeeds, and plead for God's help. So let us pray that we will seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6: 33).
Priest Rodion Alkhovik