Saturday, January 24, 2004

on Basil The Wandering Fool

I noticed in my post on St. Xenia below, that one might be tempted to derive some significance from the fact that St. Xenia is called a "Holy Fool", and in her troparion is called a "Wanderer" and the fact that I recently changed my logon-name to "Basil The Wandering Fool," so let me clear up a few things:

Whereas in Protestant thought, all Christians are readily called "saints" (after all, Paul wrote to "the saints" didn't he?), on the other hand there is nothing more arrogant, nor more sinful, in Orthodox Tradition that for a person to consider themselves a saint. In fact, if someone is being considered for canonization as a recognized saint, it is certain they won't be if there is any suggestion that they thought of themselves as saintly. So, let me be clear, I am not calling myself "Basil The Wandering Fool" because of any even remote inclination toward holiness. I am far from holy. It is a coincidence that those two phrases "wandering" and "fool" have coincided in a troparion of the Church, for I have never noticed them presented that way before.

I made this recent change, because in the depths of my own heart, I know I am a wandering soul, and I know I am a fool. Sometimes I even fear that I'm one of those types of people mentioned in the Scripture:

These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever.
- Jude 1:12-13

or the Holy Aposlte James:
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

- James 1:5-8

For I feel myself wandering, like one without water, through the deserts of my own heart, and I find myself multifaced, with a multitude of conflicting ideas and opinions. Am I unstable in all my ways? I pray not. I hope not. But I have what I hope to be a healthy fear that I am.

Let me explain: I have no hestiancy in my faith. My faith is boundless, my heart is full of the love of God, my mind is settled on the teaching of the Church. But my body does not do what my mind always wants it to do. My body leads me down many a broken and wretched path, and I find myself powerless to change that. No, worse, I do not even wish to change that, at least not everything.

So, I am calling myself a wanderer and a fool. I seek for wisdom not only from the Divine, but from every hidden corner of the earth - why? because I want to believe that God has not completely hidden his Wisdom from nature. I want to believe that God can be found and seen - in all His Beauty and all His Terror - in every corner of this earth.

And I go looking for Him there.

Lord have mercy on my soul.


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