Angels & Monsters

April 23, 2010

Do you know the poem by Pushkin, “The Prophet”? He says there, “Through a dismal waste I dragged myself, fainthearted.” The desert—this is life. He understood this, that life is a desert. And he dragged himself along—he crawled with his whole body. Further, “And a six-winged Seraphim appeared where the pathways parted.” Here, perhaps, he has himself in mind; I don’t know whether one appeared to him or not. Then Pushkin draws a picture of the sanctification of an Old Testament prophet. It seems, or so they say, that he comprehended both “The angels in their soaring sweep,” and “The monsters moving in the deep.” Angels are pure—they only “philosophize celestially.” But in us there are also “the monsters moving in the deep.” These two currents run parallel in us. But we must endeavor only to “philosophize celestially.” This is not attained right away—but the movement of the monsters will become more and more quiet, and then one might reach the point when there will only be a heavenly yearning, and those monsters will dive into the abyss and vanish. Yes, it’s possible to attain to this. So here’s what I’m telling you—humble down and humble down! May the Lord help you! – Elder Barsanuphius of Optina


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