The unbelievers have girded for war against the Lord of heaven and earth — like dry leaves against the mountain wind! As long as the wind is soundless, one hears the rustling of the leaves. But once the wind begins to howl, it will scatter the leaves over the marshes and roadways, and left there, leaf upon leaf, they will perish like rumors and will be blinded with mud.
For an unbeliever feels strong in a crowd and makes noise. In solitude fear and weakness devour him. But when a believer is in a crowd, he shares the weakness of the crowd, while in solitude he shares power with You; therefore solitude is his strength and his song.
Against whom do you wage war, you lunatics? Is it against the One who kindles suns with His thought, and goads His flocks of suns and stars with His staff? Truly, it would be a less ridiculous war for the willows to declare war on the thunder, or for the loach fish to carry out a war against the awesome condors.
You have forged weapons, with which you crush one another, and so you have risen up to battle against Him with the same weaponry. But behold, He can walk over your swords like soft moss. Nor is he intimidated by your fortresses any more than He is by your graves.
You have concocted petty words, with which you insult and humiliate one another, and so you think that with your petty words you will humiliate the One who alone knows what a word is and whence it comes? Indeed, He created your vocal cords in your throat, and expanded your lungs beneath those cords, and cut open your mouth and attached your tongue in your mouth. Truly, it would be less ridiculous for a shepherd’s flute in a shop to rebel against its master craftsman, or for the strings on a harp to rebel against the hand that plucks them.
You have declared war not against God but against yourselves, and God watches your suicide with compassion. Dry leaves are declaring war on wheels of iron!
The more seriously you war against Him, the more unimpededly is He drawn out of you. The Lord withdraws His strength out of you, as well as His beauty, His health, His wisdom and His blessedness. This is the way the Most High Lord wars with His adversaries.
What remains of you, embattled battlers, once the Lord has drawn out from you what is His? Does anything remain other than weakness, ugliness, sickness, madness and wretchedness? The Lord will not take from you anything of what is yours. And what is yours is weakness. And once He takes away His power, which you are abusing, He will leave you with your own sepulchral weakness, which can be neither used nor abused.
The Lord will pull His health out of you, and your blood will be transformed into sweat, and your odor will be pleasing to worms, an odor that will cause cities to close their gates.
The Lord will return His wisdom to Himself, and in your madness you will run through the groves, and quarrel with caves.
The Lord will retract His blessedness and His peace to Himself, and even the springs will be frightened by your anxiety and will flee; and the vines in the hills will wither from your wretchedness, and the earth in the fields will return its fertility back to the earth.
This is the way the Most High Lord wars with His adversaries.
Like a child, He is powerless to do evil. He does not return evil for evil, for He is destitute when it comes to evil. Instead He merely gathers His good gifts and walks off with them, away from the one who gnashes his teeth at Him. And the Lord leaves the unbelievers to be by themselves. And they disintegrate like worm-eaten wood, from which the moisture has evaporated and throughout which worms wend their way for food, as through a deserted home.
Thus does it also happen with a people, that declares war on the Life-Giver.
I have told my people — remember: such is the victory of the Life-Giver, and such is the defeat of the godless.
Prayers by the Lake
~St Nikolai of Zica