“An Orthodox Christian community for southeast Wyoming travelling together towards the Kingdom of God.”

Worship - Charity - Wisdom - Community





December 21, 2017

The Anguish of Despair
Blessed are the mourners

- Father Christopher Xanthos -




"Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy. A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you."   

                                                                   - John 16:20-22

     Sometimes in life we come across something so profound, so perfect and so beautiful that had we been able to climb the highest mountain and scream it to all creation, that would simply not suffice. The following encounter of Dr. Richard Selzer is just one of those things. To explain it in my own words would do it injustice and I leave it to you to read, breathe-in and ponder this beautiful passage from his memoir.

“I stand by the bed where a young woman lies, her face postoperative, her mouth twisted in palsy, clownish. A tiny twig of the facial nerve, the one to the muscles of her mouth has been severed. She will be thus from now on. The surgeon had followed with religious fervor the curve of her flesh; I promise you that. Nevertheless, to remove the tumor in her cheek, I had to cut the little nerve. Her young husband is in the room. He stands on the opposite side of the bed and together they seem to dwell in the evening lamplight, isolated from me, private. Who are they, I ask myself, he and this wry mouth I have made, who gaze at and touch each other so generously, greedily? The young woman speaks, "Will my mouth always be like this?" she asks. "Yes," I say, "it will. It is because the nerve was cut." She nods and is silent. But the young man smiles. "I like it," he says, "It is kind of cute." "All at once I know who he is. I understand and I lower my gaze. One is not bold in an encounter with a god. Unmindful, he bends to kiss her crooked mouth and I am so close I can see how he twists his own lips to accommodate to hers, to show her that their kiss still works.”

     The love of our God is experienced daily, sometimes we simply need to be at peace in order to know God. This young husband met his wife in her weakness, in her darkest moment. Christ, too, meets us in our state of heartache, hurt and brokenness. He kisses us and lets us know that His kiss and embrace is still there. Scholars throughout the centuries have discussed and explained the love of God, but until one truly experiences such a love, it is in vain that one seeks to understand.

            If we find ourselves alone, desperately treading the rocky shoals of despair, anguishing in our painful world, always remember the kiss of this husband and remember Christ's kiss upon each of us. It is not a kiss like Judas', casting doubt, betrayal and judgment, but rather Christ's kiss and embrace is a kiss of liberation, of peace and of love.

Before we suffered, Christ did.

     Before we hurt, Christ did.

          Before we wept, Christ did.

     God needed not suffer these things, but did so for each one of us who live at this very moment. Let us not anguish alone in the tumultuous seas of despair, but rather let us sail towards the safe harbor of Christ's kiss and embrace. Let us kiss one another with such a kiss, a kiss divine.    



Father Christopher is the Presiding Priest at Holy Apostles Orthodox Christian Church of Cheyenne, Wyoming. In 2005, Father Christopher received his BA from SUNY Cortland
“An Orthodox Christian community for southeast Wyoming travelling together towards the Kingdom of God.”

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Father Christopher is the Presiding Priest at Holy Apostles Orthodox Christian Church of Cheyenne, Wyoming. In 2005, Father Christopher received his BA from SUNY Cortland in Political Science. After serving in the United States Marine Corps., Father Christopher enrolled at the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts where he earned his Master of Divinity in 2009.