When I began seeing the deep and lasting impact of God in my life, I was finishing my first book. The universe facilitated my introduction to Maximus the Confessor and the Philokalia. From there I read Dark Night of the Soul by St. John of the Cross and then The Selected Works of Maximus the Confessor. Maximus made tremendous effort to explain the condition of the human heart. I returned to the Philokalia and several passages struck truthful chords within my heart and my dreams. One of these passages, often cited without proper reference is from St. Macarious the Egyption. That passage is:
“Within the heart are unfathomable depths. It is but a small vessel and yet dragons and lions are there, and poisonous creatures and all the treasures of wickedness; rough, uneven paths are there, and gaping chasms. There likewise is God, there are the angels, there life and the Kingdom, the light and the Apostles, the heavenly cities and the treasures of grace: all things are there.”
This passage is from the 50 Spiritual Homilies of St. Macarious the Egyptian.
There is no greater truth than the power and depth of the human heart are beyond measure and comprehension. Each of us is defined by our actions. Our capacity for good, selfless acts is balanced by the depth of our desire to preserve and serve our ego and self. Inside the heart is the Godhead. We were created in God’s image, given free will, and stained by original sin. Each day we wake up and choose the roles we will play in our lives and in our
St. Macarious in the tradition of the Desert Fathers rejected a comfortable life and moved to the desert to medidate on God and our role as his creation. His focus is the human heart and the spiritual battle within. It is a deeply driven combat manual of spiritual warfare. Taken as a whole, it is revolutionary in its scope and promise.
When I began reading it, I didn’t appreciate the degree and the forms that evil can take. In protecting and serving our ego, we sacrifice our godly image and values.