INTO THE FURTHER REACHES
READ: Wisdom of Solomon 15:1-3
(found in the Bibles of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Church – considered devotional literature among Protestants)
“But you, our God. are kind and true, slow to anger, governing the universe with mercy. Even if we sin, we are yours, since we acknowledge Your power, but we will not sin, knowing we count as Yours. To know You is indeed the perfect virtue, and to know Your power is the root of immortality.” – Wisdom 15:1-3
The essence of this verse can be found in various places in the Scriptures, but I especially love how it is phrased here in the Book of Wisdom. “To know You is indeed the perfect virtue, and to know Your power is the root of immortality.”
One of the ancient monastic writers once wrote …”The path of immortality begins here, in this step you now take.” Eternal life is not a place or time that awaits us down the road, rather it is a quality of life that begins now in these first steps of our journey with Christ. And recently, life brought to me a powerful yet tender illustration of this very truth.
One of our older monks, Brother Thomas, was last seen walking down the wooded path that leads from the Cloister to our hermitages that are found spaced along this trail that follows the course of the river. deeper into the woods. As was his daily habit, each morning, he would depart with his leather satchel filled with his books, his writing materials … and his consistent lunch of two tomato sandwiches, a piece of fruit and his thermos of noodle soup. As he made his journey out to his hermitage, Brother Thomas would also be praying in a way that was at the border between silence and whispering. There at the hermitage he would pray and study, and write his letters to the children in orphanages around the world. Around mid-afternoon, Brother Thomas would make his journey back and then begin his chores of preparing the evening meal. On this one recent day a while back, Brother Thomas journeyed out… but he did not journey back. We found him by the river, leaning against a river oak, his Bible in his lap, but his spirit had journeyed on.
At his service, the Abbot said of his old friend, “On a certain day, Brother Thomas simply journeyed on into the further reaches of immortality.” At my service, I hope someone might say that about me …“Brother Anthony (jim) simply journeyed on into the further reaches of immortality.”
In these later years of my Christian discipleship, I am becoming more and more aware and, as such, becoming more and more convinced that the more and more we know Christ personally, the more and more we become filled with the virtue of Christ. It is a perfection of our morality, not one attempted by the keeping of rules, but one enabled by the Spirit’s transformation of our soul. And in like manner, the more and more we come to know the power of God’s love and mercy, the more and more we experience the immortal dimension of life here in these our mortal days. It is as if when we make our journey on the road towards the heavenly realms, those same heavenly realms come down the road to meet us. Yes, more and more, I not only believe this to be true, I know this to be true.
So my Loved Ones, don’t sit back and hope that immortality will be out there somewhere in the great beyond waiting for you, instead start this day following Christ on a journey into the immortal way of life, and Christ will be your guide into these outskirts of the further reaches, the further reaches of immortality.
Brother Anthony of the Cross