A large envelope arrived in the mail yesterday. It was marked with the writing of a child. It
was addressed to “Hopar,” an endearing term for uncle, from my six-year-old nephew Vartan. He was excited to share his lesson about Martin Luther King, Jr. with me. On a large card made out of construction paper, was his rendition of the Civil Rights Leader along with his narrative, written with thick marker pens.
At the bottom of the note, he had two marking. They had nothing to do with the story of King, but everything to do with our journey. They were combination of lines – a vertical and horizontal line drawn perpendicular to one another, and two lines shooting out of the cross-point at 45 degree angles on each side. Underneath the symbol was written, “Wood symbol in Chinese.” Next to this figure was two of the same figure with the inscription, “Forest in Chinese.”
The Chinese logograms appeared as a bonus message on my nephew’s letter, but their arrival on this day of our Journey – the day after we took our eyes off of the horizon – was more than a fluke. It is the caveat to yesterday’s message and the theme for today: Can’t see the forest for the trees.
Yesterday we moved our attention from the abstract and unseen reality beyond the horizon to the road below our feet, to the immediate functions of life. In so doing it might be easy to concentrate so much on the little things that we fail to notice, and subsequently we fail to understand, the intertwining of all of life’s realities. We can’t see the forest for the trees.
When we are too close to a situation we need to step back and get a better perspective. It is easy to be over obsessed and consumed with our life-situations, especially if they are troubling and causing us hardship. Illness and disease are overwhelming, as are love-lost and hurtful-pasts. It is even comforting to bask in misery because it’s close by and familiar. Meanwhile, the possibility of the unknown – the healing – and the risk involved to get there can be frightening. It means risking and opening ourselves to vulnerability. With this narrow outlook, we miss opportunities to connect with other life experiences and people to build the bigger reality of life.
The happy medium is between our steps below our feet and the horizon in the distance. It’s there that healing becomes possible as we move from self-absorption to self-respect. We understand the possibilities within our reach.
If you follow the road signs on the highway you’re pretty much assured to get in close proximity of your destination, give or take a few addresses, blocks or miles. On this journey we’ve been twisting and turning in a rather adventurous spirit. So I doubt that the direction we received today, from the “hands of babes” was purely chance. When you find synchronicity with the signs, roads and compass directions as we have today, it becomes more of a confirmation of being on the right path and for us, a confirmation that healing is in front of us.
We reach to St. Gregory of Narek (Narekatsi) for today’s prayer and meditation. This is merely an excerpt from a longer proclamation for healing. Narekatsi’s words are overwhelming as a forest, yet each word expresses the beauty and wonder of the simple tree. Meditate on the words, mediate on the whole:
Lord, my Lord, grantor of gifts, root of goodness,
ruler of all equally, creator of all from nothing,
glorified, awesome, awe inspiring,
blessed existence, shadowless dawn,
ray shining upon all, light professing to all,
unwavering assurance, undisturbable calm,
taste of sweetness, cup of bliss,
love in dark exile,
great help, trustworthy refuge,
undiminishing grace, inexhaustible treasure,
pure rain, glittering dew,
universal cure, free healing,
health restored, sublime spur,
defender who loves the poor,
unparalleled compassion, inexhaustible mercy,
humility celebrated, kiss of salvation.
We will continue on this road tomorrow, until then this is Fr. Vazken inviting you to join us then, on this Lenten Journey.