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Food for Thought

Ephrem of Syria

Today, some of the brothers and sisters that make up Grace and Main Fellowship are reading over the works of the Eastern writer and Saint, Ephrem of Syria. On Twitter (@graceandmain), we’ve been posting selections from some of his writings and poetry for your contemplation. If you’d be interested in learning more about the man himself, then we suggest you check out one of our brother’s writings concerning his life at Telling the Stories that Matter.

In the meantime, we offer this longer selection from his “Hymn Against Bar-Daisan.” Other works by Ephrem can be found at the St. Pachomius Library.

There is One Being, who knows Himself and sees Himself.
He dwells in Himself,
And from Himself sets forth.
Glory to His Name.
This is a Being who by His own will is in every place,
Who is invisible and visible,
Manifest and secret.
He is above and below.

Mingling and condescending by His grace among the lower;
Loftier and more exalted, as befits His glory, than the higher.
The swift cannot exceed His swiftness,
Nor the slow outlast His patience.

He is before all and after all,
And in the midst of all.
He is like the sea,
In that all creation moves in Him.
As the waters beset the fish in all their movements,
The Creator is clad with everything which is made,
Both great and small.
And as the fish are hidden in the water,
There is hidden in God height and depth,
Far and near,
And the inhabitants thereof.
And as the water meets the fishes everywhere it goes,
So God meets everyone who walks.
And as the water touches the fish at every turn it makes,
God accompanies and sees every man in all his deeds.

Men cannot move the earth which is their chariot,
Neither does anyone go far from the Just One who is his associate.
The Good One is united to the body,
And light to the eyes.
A man is not able to flee from his soul,
For it is with him.
Nor is a man hid from the Good,
For He besets him.
As the water surrounds the fish and it feels it,
So also do all natures feel God.

He is diffused through the air,
And with thy breath enters into thy midst.
He is mingled with the light,
And enters, when thou seest, into thy eyes.
He is mingled with thy spirit,
And examines thee from within, as to what thou art.
In thy soul He dwells,
And nothing which is in thy heart is hid from Him.
As the mind precedes the body in every place,
So He examines thy soul before thou dost examine it.
And as the thought greatly precedes the deed,
So His thought knows beforehand what thou wilt plan.

Compared with His impalpability,
Thy soul is body and thy spirit flesh.
Soul of thy soul,
Spirit of thy spirit,
Is He who created thee,
Far from all,
And mingled with all,
And manifest above all,
A great wonder and a hidden marvel unfathomable.
He is the Being concerning whose essence no man is able to explain.
This is the Power whose depth is inexpressible.
Among things seen and among things hidden
There is none to be compared to Him.
This is He who created and formed from nothing
Everything which is.

Persistence

The ability to stick to a task or project until completion is a valuable trait in a world where many tasks are difficult and don’t go smoothly the first time around. Thomas Edison is said to have tried literally thousands of materials for the filament of the electric light bulb before hitting on carbonized cotton thread as the proper material. How much longer would humans have toiled in darkness had it not been for his dogged persistence? Indeed, it could be argued that civilization would not be possible without this virtue. Perseverance is undoubtedly a useful virtue, but we must be careful that we don’t fall into perseveration, the knee-jerk repetition of a particular response, even when that response is not working. So, we should be smart in our persistence and keep at it, but don’t continue “beating our head against the wall” when our approach is not working. We should be willing to modify our approach and think about what is required to solve our problem. And remember that in some areas of life, such as working with people, patience and persistence are especially called for. Recall that when Jesus was asked how many times we should forgive our brother who has sinned against us, He is effectively saying that we should never stop forgiving.

Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.”

R.S.V. Matthew 18:21-22

 

Source: Metro Creative Connection