Friday, February 24, 2012

The eyes of a child (Matthew 25:31-46)

The Divine Liturgy at St Botolph's Church, Bishopsgate, London, U.K.

Father Alexander Tefft is the priest at the Antiochian Orthodox Parish of Saint Botolph, London, U.K., as well as Chaplain and Tutor at the Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies at Cambridge. Here is his sermon from last Sunday (19th February), which for Orthodox Christians was "The Sunday of the Last Judgment". 

‘As you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.‘ (Matthew 25.45) 

A woman lies quietly in a bed, in a room with green walls. A soft sickly shade of green intended to calm her nerves. A light from the ceiling shines in her eyes but she does not blink. No light behind her eyes. No light within. Once, you could hear her screaming: her voice, shrieking, cursing, hurling obscenities at everyone who entered the room. Like an antique vase hurled against the wall. Now she is quiet. She seldom speaks. She seldom moves. She dreams. In her dream, a small, red mouse climbing in and out of a bowl and trying in vain to crawl into her arms. On waking, nausea and tremors. Side effects of the lithium carbonate and chlorprozamine, pumping through her veins. Suicidal images arise in her brain, now and then. Side effects? Or do they conceal a memory that arises only in the few fleeting moments of sleep? Years ago, many years ago. The teenage girl that she once was, lying in another hospital bed. Exhausted from a premature birth. She was only a child of fourteen when she clung to that boy, one night – and a few months later, delivered his child. As she lay in her bed in the dark ward, a nurse brought in a bed pan. In the bed pan, her stillborn child covered in blood. ‘This is the fruit of your sin’, said the nurse – with a cross dangling from her neck. 

Years of that young girl’s dirty hands, clutching a bottle. Years of crawling on all fours, in an alley in some unknown city where she sold her body for a shot in the arm or a bag of white powder. Years passed, since she cried her eyes red and reached her hands in vain to the woman with a cross around her neck. Years of rage. Years of a heart, ripped from the breast. Electric volts to the brain, psychiatric drugs in place of food, and … 

A recurring dream about a small, red mouse, in a bowl, trying to climb into her arms. 

When you work in mental health, or live with one who does, you hear stories that shock the brain worse than any volt. Continue reading this sermon HERE.


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