Tonight, as I write this on my fifty-second birthday, I wanted to share one of my favorite prayers, the “Morning Prayer of the Optina Elders,” attributed to St. John of Kronstadt:
O Lord, grant me that I may greet with your peace all that this day is to bring.
Grant me the grace to surrender myself completely to your holy will.
In every hour of this day, instruct and guide me in all things.
Whatever tidings I may receive during this day, teach me to accept them tranquilly, in the firm belief that your holy will governs all.
Govern my thoughts and feelings in all I do and say.
When unforeseen things occur, let me knot forget that all is sent by You.
Teach me to behave sincerely and reasonably toward everyone, that I may bring confusion and sorrow to no one.
Bestow on me, O Lord, the strength to endure the fatigue of the day and to bear my part in its events.
Guide my will and teach me to pray, to believe, to hope, to suffer, to forgive, and to love.
I love this prayer so much that I have kept it on my work desk for twelve years, and it was almost too worn for me to type it.
As I searched for an image to go with this post, I came across this video of the monastery of the Optina Hermitage in the Region of Kaluga in Russia, from whence the prayer came. Centuries ago, a holy Russian Orthodox monk — an Optina Elder — wrote it down. This video, which plays a beautiful Russian song using words from the prayer, was just what I need on this night of my birthday. I have been working long days and hours in front of the computer, and staring at my screen for much of my day means that I am swimming in a stream of advertisements, YouTube thumbnails, newsflash pictures, and such for hours on end.
I hadn’t truly realized what this seemingly innocuous “eye-feed” has done to my soul — until now. What it has done is remove me from the heart of true beauty and serenity and thrust me in to the land of kitsch and artifice. I am reminded of the words from Ecclesiastes 1:2:
Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth, vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!
But in this prayer, and in the beauty of this song, nothing is vanity. I am brought back to my soul, where pure beauty lies.
Copyright 2018 Christine Watkins