“One of the big struggles that we have in our journey towards God is the feeling that no one has ever undergone the same temptations, difficulties or experiences that we have gone through. Especially as Americans who were taught to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, we feel that we need to set our plow on an unfilled plot and discover for ourselves what the field can yield. Little do we know that the land has been well plowed by many who have gone before us, and it is only our limited vision that keeps us from entering into their harvest. Through dialogue with others, we begin to realize that we are not alone, and the fog of loneliness which can paralyze the soul begins to dissipate. We begin to see the big picture. The stage of life in this fallen world has already been set, and it is only our part to enter into it and redeem it through our life in Christ.
Slowly, slowly, our eyes open to the fact that although each person is unique, the content is the same. The human condition of estrangement from God afflicts us all, and because of that, we find difficulty with the crosses that we must bear. Yet, when we learning that every person carries a particular cross, though its outward appearance may vary, we find unity, strength and courage in the cross. We no longer feel alone, but surrounded by others who live the same life, the life of the cross. Compassion encompasses our mind, and we understand the affliction of every’ soul. Furthermore, when we realize that the Life-creating Cross is the content of everyone’s life, then we can stop discussing life and start living it.”
-From Elder Silouan of Monastery of the Archangel Michael in NM)