Archive for January 26th, 2008

The Goodness of Being

January 26, 2008

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The primary good is existence itself, for if someone does not exist, how can he make use of good things of any sort? And, whereas we all simply somehow exist, God is “the One Who Is,” that is, He is the One Who enjoys utter fullness of existence, the One Who is Being itself. God’s being has within itself its own cause or foundation. It is absolutely whole, individsible and unchangeable; it possesses everything simultaneously in a single perfect, all-encompassing unity. All of God’s attributes interprenetrate one another. Thus, for example, one cannot say that in God love is not wise, nor that wisdom is not permeated with love; nor can one say that His freedom is powerless, or His power without freedom, etc. God’s life is not a death-like rest but a complex and yet unified, all-powerful act of being whereby He realizes everything that we, even through thousands of our own efforts, cannot attain. Thus, God is above time and space; He is eternal and simple.

The above is a short paragraph from the beloved Serge Verhovskoy’s The Light of the World. Rich in content yet simple in statement, it points us to the reason that Being is the question. We may say these things of God, but our own experience of being is full of contradiction and even pain. It is clear that our existence is in some sense flawed. Thus God united Himself with us in the fullness our being and healed us at the very core of who we are. But it is this core that often remains unaddressed and unattended in our religious life. We all too often are satisfied with having mastered certain external matters of the Orthodox life and just get by. We fail to press the very pain and problem of our being. We take for granted that failings and emptiness in certain areas of our life are simply givens and must be endured.

But God is the Fullness of Being and invites us to share in that fullness. Thus not only is Orthodoxy really “all about being,” it is about our being healed and sharing more fully in all that it means to exist. Existence should not be a burden for us, but a daily joy, a gift. By the same token, our existence should be a daily joy and gift for those around us, unless they have set themselves as enemies of all that is good.

To be able to say, “It is good to be here,” (St. Peter said such a thing on the Mount of Transfiguration), is a confession of the truth. It is indeed good to be here, regardless of the problems that have beset our existence.

I have seen such joy in the face of children on more than one occasion. In the remembrance of my own children’s childhoods, I recall such moments that I was graced with witnessing as among the greatest joys of my life. May God multiply such moments for them in their adult lives!

It is good to be here. It is good to be. For God is good.