I first encountered St Nikolai Velimirovich in excerpts read on Ancient Faith Radio, and every time one comes on I drop everything and stare into space listening. He is as fresh as a slap with a fresh thing on a fresh morning.
Recently I was at a Byzantine chant workshop in Dunlap California, where there is a beautiful women's monastery called Life Giving (/Receiving) Fountain. It's a monastery only for beautiful women. They are very strict about that.
Why can't I be serious? Really, what is wrong with me? Okay, but this is about St NV, whose book I found to my total JOY in the monastery bookstore. So now I get to post things of great beauty and profundity on this blog just by opening this book pretty much at random. Here's the first one.
What is clothing worth, if there is no body to clothe? What is the body worth, if the soul is not covered with it? What is the soul worth, if You do not keep vigil in it, like fire in ashes?
My clothing is smoke and ashes, if my body does not give it value.
My beautiful lake is blind mud, if its wide-eyed water is drained from it.
My soul is smoke and ashes, if You, my morning dew, are drained from her.
You write Your name over the ashes of all things, and the flame of Your radiance dazzles the smoke of all things.
Your flame is a dew for the thirsty, who find refuge in your embrace. But your flame is a consuming fire for those who flee from it. Truly, you are paradise for the pure and hell for the impure. . .
Your prophets, O heavenly Mother, were the discoverers of the fire beneath the ashes, who dove into the mouths of volcanoes. Through your boundless mercy you allowed each prophet to discover the spark for which he dove, until all the sparks merged into the blazing conflagration of your Son, O heavenly Mother.
O Lord, you raised up shepherds for every flock, and the shepherds kindled fires for their flocks, lest they freeze on the rugged road of history, leading to a time when the Ultimate Man, the Only Begotten Son, would burst into a great fire and summon all flocks to warm themselves.
Indeed how deeply hidden are all the precious metals -- the eyes of the depths of the earth! Just as you are concealed beneath the ashes of the world, O most precious Stone!
The poor man plows his field and shakes his head when I say to him: "Rich man, deep beneath your barren field lies a lake of molten gold."
Do not shake your heads, impoverished sons of the King, when I tell you that the body is more precious than clothing, the soul is more precious than the body, and the Blazing King is more precious than the soul.
St Nikolai Velimirovich
Prayers by the Lake