Rod Dreher

:ruthieinlight.JPGToday a Louisiana cousin from whom I’ve been estranged for 10 years and I exchanged mutual forgiveness, and repaired that broken bond, because of Ruthie’s inspiration. My cousin, who loves Ruthie too, and who has been helping her around her house, wrote, “We should not waste our precious time and energies with those things which only serve to divide and cause others pain and anguish. Lord knows, there’s enough of that already.” Amen to that. Thank God that’s behind us. Thank God for His mercies, and for opening up the gates of repentance and forgiveness. Ruthie is living in the light, and is surely drawing the rest of us to the light, if we want to follow.
Here is a famous account from the life of the St. Seraphim of Sarov, which came to mind when I saw the photograph I post here, taken this weekend on the pond at home (Sunlight hitting the camera lens at a particular angle? Probably. But you never know). Another site summarizes Motovilov’s account from the saint’s life thus:

The miraculous transfiguration of the starets’ [holy man — RD] face was described by a close admirer and follower of St. Seraphim — Motovilov. This happened during the winter, on a cloudy day. Motovilov was sitting on a stump in the woods; St. Seraphim was squatting across from him and telling his pupil the meaning of a Christian life, explaining for what we Christians live on earth.
“It is necessary that the Holy Spirit enter our heart. Everything good that we do, that we do for Christ, is given to us by the Holy Spirit, but prayer most of all, which is always available to us,” he said.
“Father,” answered Motovilov, “how can I see the grace of the Holy Spirit? How can I know if He is with me or not?”
St. Seraphim began to give him examples from the lives of the saints and apostles, but Motovilov still did not understand. The elder then firmly took him by the shoulder and said to him, “We are both now, my dear fellow, in the Holy Spirit.” It was as if Motovilov’s eyes had been opened, for he saw that the face of the elder was brighter than the sun. In his heart Motovilov felt joy and peace, in his body a warmth as if it were summer, and a fragrance began to spread around them. Motovilov was terrified by the unusual change, but especially by the fact that the face of the starets shone like the sun. But St. Seraphim said to him, “Do not fear, dear fellow. You would not even be able to see me if you yourself were not in the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Thank the Lord for His mercy toward us.”
Thus Motovilov understood, in mind and heart, what the descent of the Holy Spirit and His transfiguration of a person meant.

Please don’t think I’m trying to prematurely canonize my sister! (Though I think her fantastic rum cake would count heavily in favor of her cause, I am, in fact, her older brother, and I could tell you some stories, especially the one about the Hank Williams Jr. concert lo, these many years ago.) I’m just trying to articulate how astonished I am over the healing graces that are coming out of her sickness, and what it’s making us realize about who she truly is, and what we might yet become.
It is an awesome thing to realize that forgiveness is always possible to offer, and to receive — and to think of the floodgates of joy that can open once that happens. What a fool I have been to have closed myself off to this possibility of this kind of liberation. My sister is no more special or kind or loving today than she was last week, or last year. She is only today what she has always been, only she’s really sick. But it took this catastrophe of cancer to make me see her as she really is — and to see myself in that purifying light.
Why is it like that with us? Why do we turn away from the opportunities for grace and mercy, and withhold them from others, who need them as much as we do? We are all beggars and rich men both, desperate for mercy but stingy with it all the same. Well, most of us are. And then there are those people who are sent to be our teachers, to show us another way, a better way, a way of love — if only we would have eyes to see the possibilities around us every day. Like Motovilov, we fallible creatures sometimes need to see something amazing to make us grasp that life is a miracle, and that hope and redemption is in all things, every day of our lives, if only we could be humble enough to accept it.

Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus