In this column we continue with the translation of Fr. Lev Gillet’s meditation on the mystery of Divine Love. (From Archimandrite Lev Gillet, “A Monk of the Eastern Church”)
Upon Which Foundation?
“My poor children,” God says, “you want to live without me. What, then, do you depend upon? What is your essential foundation?
“My poor child,” He declares, “you think you can escape from me by plunging yourself into what you conceive to be the ‘natural world.’ But what you cling to is not at all the natural world in its very depths.
“You think you can lead a better life by distancing yourself from that Love which is beyond every limit, which loves beyond every visible thing. You strive to give yourself solely to what is visible. You talk of affirming your own person and realizing your own being. You speak of earthly nourishment, and you await from it both harmony and joy.
“Nonetheless, you will inevitably come into conflict with every aspect of creation. For the universe allows no peace to someone who believes they can separate a particular situation or another person from limitless Love.
“You try your best to find your support in reality itself. Yet you believe the natural world alone is what is truly real. You want to lean on a fragile reed, yet that reed will pierce your hand.
“In this world where all things are united by a Love without limits, every creature you want to seize individually, without basing your action on absolute Love, will withdraw from you, one after the other. You will be left alone, wounded, lying in the roadway. Everything will abandon you, the moment you abandon Me.
“My poor child, whom will you find to save you, if not Me? Whom will you find to love you, if not Me?”
The Doorway of Hope
“My child, as soon as you speak these words, ‘Love without limits,’ as soon as you give this supreme reality a place in your heart, you open a door. This is the doorway that leads into the Kingdom of freedom and light.
“This is the doorway of Hope, the threshold that leads to the infinite expansion of your being. Hope: awaiting what is to come, awaiting the One who is to come. Such waiting is filled with love. It is founded on love. For we never hope for what we do not love.
“Do not confuse your ‘hopes,’ in the plural, with ‘hope’ in the singular. Your hopes are those particular, limited things you want to see realized and which often correspond only to a selfish desire. For example, some special success, or a particular healing. These are hopes. They are not Hope.
“Hope in the true sense is a wish, a desire, an expectation that refers not only to a particular object. It refers to your total destiny. It does not refer to some portion of a curve, but to the curve in its entirety.
“If you consider only a portion of the curve of your life, you can easily have the impression that is a meaningless failure, a tragic loss. Look, rather, at the entire line of your life with a confidence inspired by love. In this perspective, death itself, however great its importance, is only a moment, only a point on the curve. Love never dies. Nothing truly marked by love is ever lost.
“The doorway of Hope is open before you, and no one can ever close it. What is this doorway like? It is the doorway of possibility that Love offers you at every moment. You trouble yourself over the missed opportunities of your life. At times you say to yourself, “Oh, if only I had known! Oh, if only I had done this or that differently. If only I could do it all over again!” We cannot redo what is already done. Yes, of course there have been missed opportunities. They are gone for good. But those lost possibilities are nothing in comparison with what is before you right now: the possibilities that I offer you, that are offered to you in this very moment.
“The door of present possibility, which is also the door of Hope, is open before you at every instant. It is different with each one of us. Don’t just sit in front of the door, waiting for someone to come open it because you think it is closed. You only have to push against it gently, and it will open wide before you.
“The moment you cross the threshold, Love without limits will come to you. Since it is of me, it is more than promised Love; it is Love already given. Nevertheless, in this world, as long as you are in this life, you can always break communion with Me. Here, that union remains imperfect. For the time being, ours is only an engagement, not a full marriage. It is Hope rather than possession. But move ahead with the Hope which is yours, that youthful, spring-like Hope you already possess. Hope in your Lord of Love, even when you feel you may be crushed to death. The greatest Hope is to hope against all Hope.
“Hope knows no limits, because it flows forth from Love without limits and leads back to that Love. I ask you this question: Has Love without limits already placed on your finger the engagement ring that is Hope without limits?”