Lampeter Orthodox Church
The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Luke. (10:38-42; 11:27-28)
At that time, Jesus entered a certain village; and a woman named Martha received Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to His teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving; and she went to Him and said, “Lord, dost Thou not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her.” As He said this, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore Thee, and the breasts that Thou didst suck!” But He said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”
The Angels beholding the entrance of the all-pure one were overtaken by surprise; how hath the Virgin entered into the Holy of Holies?
Since thou art a living temple of God, O Theotokos, no impure hand shall touch thee. But the lips of believers, let them ceaselessly laud thee, crying unto thee joyfully with the voice of the angels: Verily, O undefiled Virgin, thou art more exalted than all creatures.
Icon of SS Abramius and Mary, with St Anastasia the Roman, third century martyr also celebrated on 29th October.
My poem is a rather free improvisation on the story. In the Life by St Dmitri of Rostov (it can be consulted here), Mary flees out of an awareness of sinfulness after she has been seduced by a false monk-disciple of her uncle.
The soul, being enormous, cannot fit
this narrow way, even knowing
or at least believing,
or at least thinking
that only beyond or through it
will it find
that is more or less adequate.
I threw myself against the wall,
against a door that is
wide open but
I thought it was too small.
And so I left the little cell
where God walked with my uncle in the cool
of the evening and ran away
to preserve my soul to the ‘big city’
where I walked the streets and was taken
in the arms of this one. And that one.
This enormous soul, still
thrown against the wall.
And my uncle, he
was always with me, weeping,
even a hundred miles away,
because he was in God, knowingly,
and I was in God just because
everything is in God, and that is why
those whose eyes are opened, who see
in God, see everything, and weep
So my uncle came, looking for me,
presenting himself at the brothel door,
making himself small
that night and our conversation turned
on the enormous pit
that is the longing of the soul and on what
properly corresponds to it.
And so I returned to my uncle’s cell
and I felt like a child that is growing smaller,
a child who is
returning to childhood, to a world
growing ever bigger, an
expanding Universe, Heaven,
seen through a narrow door
a door that the soul can only enter
when it has become