This week our church was blessed to have Archimandrite Fadi visiting us and participating in our Lenten services. Fr. Fadi spent some time with the children of our homeschool co-op, sharing his testimony and helping to instruct them. One of the things he shared was the remarkable story of how he went from being a successful law professor in Lebanon to working along side the Orthodox Metropolitan in Mexico.
After last night’s Liturgy of the Pre-sanctified Gifts, we gathered downstairs as Fr. Fadi addressed us on many important topics, including the importance of finding joy in the present moment.
Fr. Fadi explained that it’s so easy to get caught up in the cares of the world, regretting the past and second-guessing the future, that we often miss the incredible blessings available for us right now in the present moment.
To illustrate the profound gratitude available in the present moment, Fr. Fadi picked up a glass of water. “How many people’s labors and sufferings have been involved to get this one glass to us, as well as the fresh water within it?” he asked. He was referring to the technological infrastructure involved in generating all the equipment involved in the product of the glass, to say nothing of the indirect supporting technologies, that make it possible for us to have a practically unlimited supply of fresh water and inexpensive glasses to drink it from. We usually don’t even think about these things, because we take blessings for granted when those blessings come in abundance. But throughout many parts of the world, and in many times of history, people have not had access to the blessings we take for granted.
This was a theme Fr. Fadi also touched upon in the sermon he presented at our church last Sunday. He opened by thanking God for the rain that had been falling that morning. Without the rain, he said, we would not have fruit, and ultimately we would starve. “In everything,” he emphasized, “we strive to remain positive.”
In last night’s talk Fr. Fadi explained that a lot of it comes down to the lens through which we view the world. Suppose you are wearing glasses that turn everything blue, or yellow, or some other color, he explained. In that case, the world will appear in a particular light. Similarly, he explained, we can choose to view the world through a lens of gratitude, always thanking God for the blessings He showers upon us. Even the problems in our life, and the mistakes we’ve made, can be converted into occasions for profound gratitude, since it is through these things that we grow, that we learn and that we become stronger as men and women of God.
One of Fr. Fadi’s recurring themes is that a life of gratitude involves embracing the joy of the present moment. When we regretting the past or second-guess the future, we behave as if we ourselves are the ones in control. “What would we be like, however, if we had a child-like trust in God’s total control of our life? A child goes where his father leads without feeling that he needs to know where he is being lead. In the same way, we should be able to surrender to wherever God has us in the present moment, trusting God to take care of us and open whatever opportunities we need for our spiritual growth. After all, God knows what you need, even better than you know it yourself!”
Archimandrite Fadi is very learned. He knows five different languages and is working on his third PhD. Yet his message to us was very simple: God wants to transform our hearts so that we can trust Him like a little child. “It isn’t a matter of how long your hair or beard is,” he explained, “but what is in your heart.”