"The Good Shepherd" (in the Atlas Mountains), by Henry Ossawa Tanner
Will you take us into tomorrow?
Will you take our past into your present?
Will you join your future with ours?
Will you use the first person plural when you speak of us?
Will you, in a confusing environment of “countless guides in Christ,” be our father who “begets us in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (1 Co 4.15)?
Will you take our hearts, open to you (2 Co 7.2)?
Will you take us into your heart, “to die together and to live together”? (2 Co 7.3)
Will you be Carpatho-Russian with us?
Will you be American with us?
Will you show us how to love a modern America out of an old-fashioned Orthodoxy?
Will you walk into our ex-steel valleys, our second-class developments, our coal towns in abandoned lands, our northeastern empty pews?
Will you be jovial in a musty hall, with a lingering scent of a halupki supper last Thursday?
Will you show us that God’s Will is a Good Will? For that hard-to-come-by optimism can only come by personal proof.
Will you take up our plainchant and let the echoes of our fathers, in cloud-wreathed mountains far away and long ago, resonate through your voice?
Will your monasticism take you through weariness and toil, vigil and fasting, exposure to the elementals of time (2 Co 11.27)?
Will your deep concern be for all our churches, the big ones but even the little ones, kept alive by a few pirohi sales and raffles (2 Co 11.28)?
Will you be able to say, “Who is weak and I am not weak … Who is made to stumble and I do not burn” (2 Co 11.29)?
Will you know how much this thirsty post-industrial modernity needs us, keepers of the Spring, but would rather us fade into obsolescent disregard?
Will you teach us how to forgive?
Will you show us how to hope?
Will you reveal the causal reflexive relationship between those two verbs?
Will you teach our seminarians that the One Crucified is the Second Person of the Trinity?
Will you demonstrate to us all that the Trinity courses with an over-abundant co-inherence?
Will you invite us, in winsome soul, to deification, here and now?
Will you be cruciform? Will you interpret the Empty Tomb to us?
Will you lead us in paths of righteousness, beside the cool waters, so that we will follow you through the valley of shadow?
Will you knit us, by the skein of kenosis, into koinonia, sobernost, a fellowship?
Will you help us say, fearlessly, maranatha? Because right now, we, along with about everyone else, are too afraid to really mean it.
Will you guard each man’s dignity and save each man’s pride?
Will you make them know we are Christians by our love, by our love?
Will you sing, at the end of a long banquet, “zaspivajme mnohaja”?
Over and over again?