A Heart Without Exits

The following is a short collection of sayings from the Elder Epiphanios of Athens (1930-1989). They are quoted from the text, Precious Vessels of the Holy Spirit.

True love is like the flame of a candle. However many candles you light from the flame, the initial flame remains unaffected. It doesn’t lessen at all. And every freshly lit candle has as much flame as the others do.

I want whoever is near me to feel that he has room to breathe, not that he is suffocated. I don’t call anyone to me. I don’t hold onto anyone. I don’t chase anyone away. Whoever wants comes, whoever wants stays, whoever wants leaves. I don’t consider anyone a supporter or a follower.

Speak more to God about your children than to your children about God….The soul of the teenager is in a state of an explosion of freedom. This is why it is hard for them to accept counsel. Rather than counseling them continuously and reproaching them again and again, leave the situation to Christ, to the Panagia [Mother of God], and to the Saints, asking that they bring them to reason.

I have made an agreement with God: I will empty my pockets in almsgiving and He will fill them. He has never violated our agreement. Will I violate it? May it never happen!

My heart only has entrances. It doesn’t have exits. Whoever enters remains there. Whatever he may do, I love him the same as I loved him when he first entered into my heart. I pray for him and seek his salvation.

My worst hell is to realize that I have saddened a beloved person.

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Thinking about the words of the elder, I am struck by the notion of a “heart without exits.” It is like the heart of God – nothing we do can remove us. I think we often fail to understand that such love is not passive but is ever reaching toward us – ever drawing us. Our blindness makes us think that it is easier to do evil than it is to do good. God has so created us that it takes fewer muscles to smile than to frown. Even so, kindness is easier than hate. Hate exhausts us. Kindness renews our spirit moment by moment.

About Fr. Stephen Freeman

Fr. Stephen is a retired Archpriest of the Orthodox Church in America, Pastor Emeritus of St. Anne Orthodox Church in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He is also author of Everywhere Present: Christianity in a One-Storey Universe, and Face to Face: Knowing God Beyond Our Shame, as well as the Glory to God podcast series on Ancient Faith Radio.



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18 responses to “A Heart Without Exits”

  1. Russ Mangiapane Avatar
    Russ Mangiapane

    “Speak more to God about your children than to your children about God.” I love that line.

  2. Nektarios Avatar
    Nektarios

    I’m with Russ on this one. That’s the part that spoke most to me.

    Thanks Father.

  3. Marsha Avatar
    Marsha

    LOVE this!

  4. Ken Kannady Avatar
    Ken Kannady

    Such deep reasoning explained so easily.

  5. Dn Charles Avatar

    I love the fllowing quote
    “My heart only has entrances. It doesn’t have exits. Whoever enters remains there. Whatever he may do, I love him the same as I loved him when he first entered into my heart. I pray for him and seek his salvation.”
    Thanks for all the thoughts you bring to us.

  6. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Fabio Leite, Ζωντανό Ιστολόγιο and rachael companik, Veronica du Bruyn. Veronica du Bruyn said: A Heart Without Exits – The following is a short collection of sayings from the Elder Epiphanios of Athens (1930-19… http://ow.ly/166T73 […]

  7. Rachael Avatar

    Thank you so much for this, Father.

  8. TheraP Avatar

    Deep reverential bow.

  9. Karen Avatar
    Karen

    Dear Father, bless! This is a book I purchased during my first year as an Orthodox. It is a treasure trove. Thanks for dipping in and sharing these gems with us. With a son on the brink of teenagerhood, I especially value the Elder’s advice about parenting, too.

  10. Dianne Avatar
    Dianne

    I had heard that quote about praying for your children before, but didn’t know the source. Thank you for this.

  11. inquisitivereformedchild Avatar
    inquisitivereformedchild

    Thanks glory be to God for this blog and you, Father, and all who read it. This has touched me today, Father, in a very deep and needed way. Thank you.
    Peace be with you

  12. MichaelPatrick Avatar
    MichaelPatrick

    Wonderful reflection! Thank you.

  13. Steve Avatar
    Steve

    This is excellent indeed Father. Very much in line with the heavenly ethnos, thank you.

  14. Margaret Avatar
    Margaret

    Thank you Fr. Stephen! This is such a blessing to my life and hopefully to the life of my teenager (as I struggle to take the advice offered here)!

    Glory to God for All Things!

  15. davidp Avatar

    Talking or praying to God about your children instead of talking to your children about God…wow…another stab in my parenting.

  16. Yaakov Avatar
    Yaakov

    Amen

  17. bob Avatar
    bob

    Home run. Thank you!

  18. […] is a heart, as Father Stephen observes, like the heart of God, burning more fiercely with love for His children than do our own hearts for […]

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