And Jesus said: “The kingdom of God is inside you, and all around you, not in mansions of wood and stone. Split a piece of wood … and I am there, lift a stone … and you will find me there.”

~Gospel of Thomas, 77

God, Christ and the Holy Spirit. Three words or names we as humanity may often speak but rarely if ever actually understand.

The Resurrection. An even harder word to understand and comprehend. It is so hard that philosophers, theologians, historians and scientists throughout humanity have tried and tried to dissect and prove – was it possible? How is it possible?

On Easter especially, the same old debates and talks resurrect – and again, following faithfully our human nature, we distract ourselves from the essence of things, the meaning of things, the purpose of things.

Jesus Christ once said to the most religious of people, the kings and scholars, those who studied and knew the scriptures word by word, that “You have the eyes to see, but still cannot see; you have the ears to hear, but still cannot hear; youhave hardened hearts, closed, and therefore you cannot understand.”

We can only perceive that which we have opened ourselves to understand and perceive – and this expansion of perception may only happen through the opening of our heart. Words are only words with no meaning otherwise. This is why you may have a book for years, and perhaps you’ve read it once and never understood anything, but years later, you may read it again and suddenly worlds within the words open for you – suddenly you see. Jesus Christ spoke in parables to express deep spiritual wisdom, because this is the way the consciousness and awareness level was in the people during that way – but if one truly understands what these parables meant, so much truth, all the truth, is there. Literalism has no space in spiritual text interpretation – you can only receive its truth through your heart and inner perception level. 

When we hold a little match stick in our hands, it is only a little match stick. We may not know her flame, her power, until we light her. All of life is only a match stick, only a word, only a building, until we bring our light into it – and it is a light, a flame, that comes only from our heart. It is in our ability to light up something so deeply within us in order to touch the untouchable, see the invisible, taste the intangible. And when we light the match, the flame, the love, we emit it – and it becomes like little sparkles, little candles, along the paths for others, to help them too when they need it.

There is a beautiful tradition in our Christian Orthodox church for Easter about the Holy Fire. The Holy Fire is a miracle said to take place every year on Great Saturday, just one day before Orthodox Christians celebrate Easter. During the miracle, it is thought that a beam of blue light emanates from the tomb of Jesus, creating a fiery pillar from which candles are ignited – and priests from around the world light their own candles from it, which they then bring into their countries.

And so on Great Saturdays the churches remain dark until midnight, when the pope would light a candle from the sacred holy flame. The little moment of silence and darkness before midnight is us as human beings to self-reflect and come into the humility that this life we’re given is actually a great gift – and that heaven is found within. Then at midnight, all people in the church and the towns and villages would pass to light their own candles and bring them home.

In the old days this was also practically helpful for the people who would light their houses and cook with the flames; but even today, the deeper spiritual meaning of this is to bring this light within us – within the church that is our heart – and to light our world with inner flames of love and clarity. These are the flames that matter – the light inside of us – our inner wise lantern. Faith is not found in man made structures or images, in churches, temples and cathedrals, neither is it found in books, it is inside of us. This is why Jesus Christ always points to the heart.

And where is heaven?

And the disciples said to Jesus: “Tell us what the kingdom of heaven is like!” 

He said to them: “It is like a mustard seed, the smallest of all seeds on Earth, a single grain of mustard seed. But when it falls on cultivated soil, and is sowed and nurtured by the woman’s loving hands, it becomes a branch, and it becomes shelter for the birds of the sky.”

~Gospel of Thomas, 20

Heaven is your love.

Love is a seed of God, which then grows inside of us to become a church, a shelter, a home, loving hands for all others to hold and be held.

Heaven can be your home, your relationship, your body within which you live each day and nurture its inner emotional and spiritual wildlands. Heaven can be larger too, outside of you, when we have the eyes to see it and the loving hands to build it, and the loving words to speak it, and the loving gestures through which our love will shape. Sometimes heaven is the simple of just knowing someone – because they helped you love more, be kinder, more open, more generous, more tender, and so the seed of love within you was nurtured to blossom.

It’s the little things that can become the big stories, love stories, life stories – and this little seed of heaven is there for you inside you right now even if you think it isn’t because it’s small and you perhaps cannot feel it nor see it nor hear it but it is still there I promise you.

And it’s quiet yes, but God is often quiet – and his touch is as light as the wings of a butterfly that graced your shoulder or strand of hair in the gentle breeze. His light is not grand and loud on a world stage – it is the light touch of love, gentleness, generosity and compassion. It’s the sweetest sound – the laughter of your loved ones. Soft and light his light is, with a patience and kindness of rhythm.

On Holy Friday a truth we must remember and have the humility to treasure is that we’ll never know it all; and we need to be better and kinder people. We crucified a man whose heart was full of love and who never did harm to anyone – and then still men kept the hate in their hearts because even this could not free them from inner conflicts.

“My people,” Christ said on the cross, “what have I done to you? Did I not heal you? Did I not love you? For all my healing to you – you give me wounds; for my all life I gave to you in service, devotion and love – you give me death, you kill me, you crucify me on a tree.”

Christ asked God to forgive the men saying, “Father forgive them for they do not know what they do.”

While Christ was on the cross humans were silent – but the universe spoke, the stones spoke, the soil spoke, the earth and dust spoke, even the sun withdrew its light from earth – and all those things seemingly without a voice showed themselves to be more sensitive than humans, more sensitive to the pain of a man who was essentially a teacher of love and the human heart. All things had compassion for the cruficied son of God, except men who lived in spiritual poverty within. Still, Christ pleaded and prayed for them and all, “Father forgive them for they do not know what they do.”

With quietness and humility God had clothed himself to enter our world by becoming human – because what greater quietness and humility than to be in a human body and exist in our limited and corrupted world – and through the hands, lips and gestures of Jesus Christ he healed and taught people to love, and still men crucified him. Would they have done the same if they knew?

How do we act when no one is watching or validating us? How do we speak of someone behind their back when they can’t hear us? After 2000 years, what have we learned? We seek the shining and bright and popular, yet inside of ourselves there is spiritual poverty and emptiness. We listen only to those with large followings and put them on pedestals; and yet how much wisdom are we missing from those who perhaps aren’t famous and loud? Do we honestly think that if somehow Jesus Christ lived today we’d follow him or even trust him? He’d only have twelve followers on Instagram. And how can humanity even recognize truth and love if they haven’t built that capacity within them already – if they haven’t opened the eyes of their hearts?

Can we appreciate the softeness of butterfly’s wings and hear the wisdoms that the heart speaks? Does knowledge equal Instagram likes? We swipe human faces on apps, we’ve lost family values and the sacredness of intimacy. And while people preach on world stages about goodness and taking care of the environment, they then turn to the person right beside them and treat them with disrespect.

And the men drove each sin they had as a nail in the Christ, and Christ still stood there praying for them to someday have the light of heart to see clearly. Pride is fought through humility, rudeness is fought with gentleness, hate with love, grudges with forgiveness, slander through prayer. Forgive them, they do not know.

“Why do you still hate me?” asked Jesus Christ. “I suffer, I die, and still it is not enough for you. Why do you carry this hate and anger inside you? Who has hurt you? Why is your heart so sad and grieving that you need to hurt others? I carry your pain for you now, through these nails and the blood from me falling on the soil and earth, why is your heart still not free?”  

Good Friday is often a day of quietness and not doing any chores – because it is time to self-reflect. We have very little God in ourselves in our modern world, which is reflected in the way we mistreat one another. Our modern world is full of selfishness, greed, lust, materialism, grandiosity, falseness, spiritual poverty, and being in service only to self. People are disconnected from themselves. They try to soothe the inner sadness and emptiness with external things and instant gratification but that can never be enough – because we can never fulfill nor soothe something inside of ourselves by getting more of what we actually don’t need.

No one, after lighting a lamp, puts it away in the cellar nor under a basket; they put it on the lampstand, on the table, so that those who enter the house may see it also. ~ Luke 11:33

We all have a little lamp inside of us, in the church within our heart, and we can light it with the match stick; its light is meant to be shared with others – it is meant to shine for others to help them on their paths also. We are all endowed with some natural gifts, talents and skills, which are meant to be used for other people helping them – we are here to be of service to others. We have hands to make and give; we have tongues to speak and encourage.

We all have a human heart – and we can create under its constant beat. We can all open its doorway and find love there – this is where Christ is; and every time we choose to live in virtue, and we make a choice of kindness and love and generosity and support, this light of Christ awakens within us and take us closer to ourselves. There are choices to be made always; but he is always within you, if you choose to see him. 

Love is not like air, though it is a consciousness; love is like bread – it needs to be made and remade each morning, each day, made anew. Love is to be embodied through us – through our lips, hands and gestures. We are given hands and lips to be of service to others; we are given talents and skills and gifts to give them back to humanity for their betterment. Open your hands, give of yourself. Open your hands, in trust and in surrender and in faith; and you will see yourself being held by something greater than us – something greater than a human-made word.

During Holy Week Christ becomes nothing – earth, dust, and the One. We too must sometimes soil ourselves, in humility, self-honesty, compassion and acceptance. Humility translates to “being of the earth”, so its essence is that it is a bridge to God and to love. Through humbleness, we become grounded, we understand our right proportions within the cosmic fabrics. We kneel to the earth, the ground, the soil, and we help the wheat – we help make bread to feed all and ourselves. Make love, make bread, with a kindness and patience of rhythm, and under the constant beat of your heart.

People with self-knowledge are needed in our world. So if there is one thing to do, one gift to give yourself in this life – know thyself, know thy heart. Explore your unique emotional and spiritual inner wildlands that you walk each day, see what is happening within you. When we reconcile the inner, the outer will be more peaceful and harmonious also. On Easter Christ rises, and we celebrate the rising of love, the resurrection of love – because love is God is Christ is eternal. In the heart,

then, now, always.

Christ has risen! Христос Воскресе! 

May the church within our hearts and sacredness of family and home always be lit and warmed by the fires of love! May true light guide us! Happy Easter to you all!

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Cover photograph by me of me and our beautiful lily of the valley. 

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