Archive for December 5th, 2009

A Heart Without Exits

December 5, 2009

The following is a short collection of sayings from the Elder Epiphanios of Athens (1930-1989). They are quoted from the text, Precious Vessels of the Holy Spirit.

True love is like the flame of a candle. However many candles you light from the flame, the initial flame remains unaffected. It doesn’t lessen at all. And every freshly lit candle has as much flame as the others do.

I want whoever is near me to feel that he has room to breathe, not that he is suffocated. I don’t call anyone to me. I don’t hold onto anyone. I don’t chase anyone away. Whoever wants comes, whoever wants stays, whoever wants leaves. I don’t consider anyone a supporter or a follower.

Speak more to God about your children than to your children about God….The soul of the teenager is in a state of an explosion of freedom. This is why it is hard for them to accept counsel. Rather than counseling them continuously and reproaching them again and again, leave the situation to Christ, to the Panagia [Mother of God], and to the Saints, asking that they bring them to reason.

I have made an agreement with God: I will empty my pockets in almsgiving and He will fill them. He has never violated our agreement. Will I violate it? May it never happen!

My heart only has entrances. It doesn’t have exits. Whoever enters remains there. Whatever he may do, I love him the same as I loved him when he first entered into my heart. I pray for him and seek his salvation.

My worst hell is to realize that I have saddened a beloved person.


Thinking about the words of the elder, I am struck by the notion of a “heart without exits.” It is like the heart of God – nothing we do can remove us. I think we often fail to understand that such love is not passive but is ever reaching toward us – ever drawing us. Our blindness makes us think that it is easier to do evil than it is to do good. God has so created us that it takes fewer muscles to smile than to frown. Even so, kindness is easier than hate. Hate exhausts us. Kindness renews our spirit moment by moment.