(this is from David Dutko, a friend of mine: a poignant prayer that articulates a pious homesickness that should explain certain "immigrant sensibilities" to many "convertski," of whom I am one ... the photo above pictures the Beskyd Mountains)
I came across this prayer, attributed to a Katerina Rusyn, a Lemko who was deported from Poland in 1947 and resettled in the Ukraine - a fate which befell many of our people following the second world war.
These are no doubt difficult times facing our people today - both in our little Orthodox Diocese as well as for our Greek Catholic brothers and sisters and the words of this prayer seem to resonate today as they did more than a half-century ago.
"O God, give me the strength to live through this day and help me to survive in this foreign land where they have brought me and my children.
O Lord, I pray and beseech Thee, let me not perish, nor my family, nor my people, who were late to sow the holy grain; for the corn will ripen in the summer and they know not when or how it will be gathered.
O Merciful God, may the sun rise and set each day, so that it brings light to all people and me, in the same way as it set each evening, there, far away, in the Beskyd Mountains, in my native hills and valleys; and may rye and every kind of seed grow for us, so that by winter we all have bread and hay and every grain to feed the people, the birds and the cattle.
O All-Highest Lord, let us not forget - neither today, nor tomorrow, nor ever - and help us to keep alive in our memory all the beauty of our land, of the mountains, and of the rich, healing and pure waters in our rivers: the Bystry, the Poprad, and the Syan; and let us also remember the fair and lovely country of the high pastures, and the woodland paths through the hills; let us not forget the places of plenty in the forest where the mushrooms grow, and the fragrant strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries, and the woodland clearings where the cattle graze.
O God, let us not forget our customs, the lilt of our mother tongue, our stories and our songs, our dances and our evenings together on holy days and workdays.
O Lord, give my children the wisdom to find their way back to the native land of their grandfathers and great-grandfathers to honour their graves, their churches and their faith.
O God, grant unto my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren all the gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, reason, courage, knowledge, piety, and also give them the most important of all human virtues – Faith, Hope and Love.
O Lord, bestow upon me and my children the knowledge to tell the difference between good and evil, happiness and unhappiness, and give me the wisdom to value goodness and be grateful for good!
Grant me to know how to influence an enemy, give me the generosity to help the poor, and also give me the understanding to convince the wrongdoer of the evil of his ways, and to teach those who do not know. Amen."
Christos Voskrese! Christ is Risen!