Stories are so powerful, particularly the stories of people who led exemplary or extraordinary lives. One of the uncounted things I love about Orthodoxy is it’s edifying and illustrated storytelling. As part of every service, every day of the year, we tell stories and show pictures, yes from the Bible, AND from exemplars from throughout history. Exemplars who guide from the other side. Like athletes with mentors, Orthodox are spiritual athletes who look to the blessed saints for counsel and inspiration.
I also love that we tell not only HIStory but HERstory as well–we lovingly remember and revere women’s holy stories, too.
In the lifelong pursuit of ever striving to attain Theosis, success stories are edifying. We learn ways to build our own spiritual muscles. Studying those who overcame barbs and stings and snares and hurdles of difficult life journeys–of the soul’s longing for holiness–teaches strategies to apply to win our own game.
The Fifth Sunday of Lent is set aside for the telling of the miraculous story of the Holy Mother Mary of Egypt, as recorded by eyewitness St. Zossima. Some stories are worthy of a feast, and this is one. Clearly she was a victim of child sexual abuse and suffered greatly. As Victor Frankl’s story taught, in enduring the horrors of Nazi concentration camps, the choices we make, the thoughts we think, create the meaning of life. The meaning makes life. Story is life. In every moment we have this powerful gift. No one can take from us the divine gift.
Here is her story. In reading her story, may you find edification as well.