Prudence True

The Heart of Wisdom

through Ancient Words

A Path to Your Heart:



   Before Our Departure


6 January 2011

Dear Souls -


         As we begin this year with a journey toward your heart, I have a few thoughts:

            - If your P.O. Box is Mt. Athos . . . this journey is not for you.
            - If you are looking for The Way of a Pilgrim . . . then buy the book.
            - The Bible offers the most accurate journey toward your heart, not me or anyone else.
            - I'm not a theologian; this is neither an academic paper, nor a theological masterpiece.
            - This is a simple journey for the average soul dedicated to the task.
            - Accessing a heart encased in solid cement requires a heavy jackhammer . . . and patience.
            - This offer does not include a refund if we cannot get the grime off the windows of your heart.

          And please pack light for the journey. There isn't room for a lot of luggage . . .

Bare Essentials


7 January 2011

Dear Souls -

         Yesterday I spent 120 minutes at the beach and took 250 photographs (oh, dear . . . two pictures a minute for two hours). If you look through the files on my computer (please don't), you will find countless photos all stored in sloppily named files. Each photo has a number, but the numbers repeat over and over. For me each photograph holds a moment in time, and every moment in time has value . . . but I have a few essential photographs mixed in with all the others.

          The Bible is full of value, sorted into chapters with numbered lines. If you spend years reading the Bible, then your mind resembles the photo files on my computer. Each piece of Scripture holds value . . . but it gets buried in our minds. A mental hard-drive must hold essential Scripture for the journey to your heart, and it cannot lie buried in complicated file folders; the bare essentials must linger as mental images (icons) in your heart at all times. The Bible resonates with these essential truths countless times throughout.

    1.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind; love your neighbor as yourself.

                                   2.  Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.


                                                   3.  Seek first the Kingdom of God.

                         A few mental icons from my 250 valuable moments yesterday . . .

  A Good Dozen


8 January 2011

Dear Souls -

         Along on this trip to your heart you must bring a dozen good eggs. Most of us open the lid of the carton when we buy a dozen eggs and check for cracked, smashed, drippy eggs. And when we forget, our dozen often includes at least one drippy egg. If I check my dozen eggs for perfection and then carry them to the car and drop them, then with a cheery smile, I return the eggs to the store for a fresh dozen. But for the journey home I want a dozen solid eggs.

        Surrounding yourself with good eggs is critical for this journey to your heart. If you find cracked eggs in your carton, then replace them with good eggs. You do not have room in your carton for smashed, drippy eggs. I'm not referring to best friends, but if you have a dozen uncracked best friends, then you are a blessed soul. You must surround yourself with good eggs, or the drippy goo from the smashed eggs leaks onto your heart.

         Although space for needy souls is important (we will get to that later), your carton must include a dozen good eggs at all times. You will know the good eggs from the cracked, and if you don't, then this is more serious than I thought. The good eggs are spread throughout our lives and may sometimes lie hidden in the corners, but if you look you will see them hiding. The cracked, dripping eggs are the most obvious, but we all have good eggs hidden somewhere. Find a dozen good eggs for the journey, and snuggle them around your heart.


  Christian Chemotherapy


10 January 2011

Dear Souls -

        This path to your heart requires an intensive induction of Christian chemotherapy to kill the abnormal cell growth of Pride and Self-righteousness. If you hope to chisel away at the cement vault encasing your heart, then you must target this abnormal cell growth within your soul.

        The induction of Christian chemotherapy will knock you flat with Humility and allow for the proliferation of Love. Intensive frequent infusions of chemotherapy are necessary, painful, and will deplete your normal energy and appetite for life. This chemotherapy regimen is the contemporary journey into the desert for battle with your inner enemies. Infusions of this toxic medicine into your body will target all cells with traces of Rightness and Correctness, because progress on this path to your heart is impossible with these abnormal cells flowing through your body and growing tumors on your vital organs.

       The cells of Pride are not seen on biopsies or scans, but with close examination of your reflection in the mirror. And they are most obvious with an excessive emphasis on all things Right. The healthy cells of Love, are also visible in the mirror and may lie hidden in quiet Humility. (Humility in its loudest form is silent and invisible.) Stopping the cell growth of Pride is essential for this journey to your heart and requires a large painful infusion of Christian chemotherapy. And afterward you're scheduled for a course of deep self-reflection.

         Are you up for this difficult journey?


  Christian Chemotherapy

Target Cells: Pride


11 January 2011

Dear Souls -

        Let me further explain the protocol for Christian chemotherapy. The uncontrolled growth of cells inflated with Pride overwhelms the healthy cells in your soul. The cells of Pride, represented by Rightness and Correctness, circulate through the soul unnoticed in everyday life. If you stroll through the world you will find unhealthy cells of Pride in most souls. Eliminating these cancerous cells of Pride leaves humans weak and empty, but is critical for a journey to your heart. Progress to your heart is impossible with tumors of Pride growing in your soul. And removing Pride requires a strong, toxic medicine infused in frequent doses for an extended period of time.

        This treatment with Christian chemotherapy leaves healthy cells of Humility flourishing in your soul. If you doubt the power of chemotherapy for the treatment of abnormal cell growth, please visit an Oncology Unit in any hospital for the physically ill. If you want to see wounded souls untreated by chemotherapy, please visit church (any Church) on Sunday morning and glance at the spiritually ill scattered nearby.

         Infusions of Christian chemotherapy require careful administration and should be done with supervision by qualified personnel. Those most qualified for supervising this form of chemotherapy are not always obvious, but I know for certain they are not the biggest, loudest folks seated next to you in life . . . more likely they are hidden in the corners. If someone is Right beware, they suffer from cancerous Pride and will not recognise the abnormal cells growing in your soul.      





12 January 2011

Dear Souls -

         The brilliant blind man in a classroom

          describes color in great detail;

          an ignorant housekeeper in the hall

          sees color everywhere.



 Grandmother's Theology


15 January 2011

Dear Souls -

        If you're seeking a fancy theological description of the path to your heart, please stop reading right away. I can recommend places on the web where you can fill your mind with complicated theology, and I can also recommend sites where you can read granola recipes (though I'm passionate about my own homemade granola). This path to your heart I'm writing about did not come from years of reading Orthodox Christian books (I enjoyed all ten I've read, though I don't suggest spending two decades reading The Orthodox Church, as I did). The path to your heart I'm speaking of we will call Grandmother's Theology, although I bet this name is taken . . . and I'm not a grandmother.

        All I know, I've learned from ancestors who did not learn what they know from books. A certain priest tells me some Christians believe I'm not a Christian at all, and he says they're not the ones reading what I've written. Although I'm grateful some Christians ignore me, I cannot understand their misconception. I've been on this Christian path my entire life, beginning with baptism a few months after my birth, and continuing every day throughout the years and years and years . . . (no single aha! moment for me as an Orthodox Christian).

        For this journey to your heart, you must find a means of eliminating the inflated cells in your body, which obscure the eyes of your soul. If you live in a monastery, then you must follow a specific path; if you live in a house on a street with a mailbox in front and a car in the driveway, then you must follow a path suited to your neighborhood . . . a more practical path for you and me. This is the path of Grandmother's Theology, and it's all I know. I could read ten more fancy theology books, but they're too complicated for my simple mind. Besides in my mind resides the roaring voice of my ancestors keeping diligent watch over my heart.

       The essential tool of Grandmother's Theology is a scowl. An "old country" grandmother has a look which blasts you with a loud: Watch Yourself! It's the equivalent of a whack over the head with an overstuffed handbag, and it hurts. The scowl (heavy handbag whack) stops you fast and puts you in your place in record time. It's a toxic medicine with excruciating side effects. Over the years it creeps into your soul and you feel the whack even when grandmother's handbag is empty. This watchful presence is a form of Christian chemotherapy, and it's an effective 2000 year old method for eliminating the over-inflated cells surrounding your heart.

Keeping Watch



 Grandmother's Theology:

   Course Description

16 January 2011

Dear Souls -

           Anyone is qualified for this one year course in Grandmother's Theology, but you must understand this class is not required for modern living. There is not a syllabus available, and tuition, fees, and texts are not required. Homework is assigned, but there is not a final exam, and this class does not offer credit toward graduation. The course outline is not available . . . because there isn't one.

           This entry level course will meander around like a lost tourist in Manhattan. Along the way you will experience the sights, sounds, and confusion of an ordinary heart raised with Grandmother's Theology. Please bring your own snacks and water. And if you lag behind, I will not spend extra time with you during office hours. The drop date for this course is whenever you want, but I suggest you commit early and take the entire course. I will not take attendance, and there is not assigned seating. Sit wherever you are most comfortable, but please leave your shoes on. Computer and internet access are required. And please leave your cell phones in your pocket and silenced.

           I'm not the most qualified person to teach this course in Grandmother's Theology, but no one else has offered. And, although I can't understand how someone has no idea where their heart lies, I'm positive mine is not encased in cement. I'll give this path to your heart my best effort, despite my lack of formal education on the subject. Perhaps my dear grandmother will reach out from above and guide me with this challenging task.

           Your first assignment is to spend time outside in the fresh air. I don't care if you live in a tall apartment building, or it's freezing and snowy outside your window. Your heart requires fresh air and Mother Nature . . . at least one large dose per day. At a minimum, take a walk around the block. (If you're sick and lying in bed, then peer out the window and pretend you're walking around the block.)

              If you complete a course evaluation at the end of the year, please remember this course is not required for modern living. And if you want to drop this course now, I know there is space available in other popular online Theology courses.



 Building Your Home in a Meadow


18 January 2011

Dear Souls -

         My mind is simple. I've never spent hours dwelling on the meaning of life, because for me the answer has always been obvious: Seek first the Kingdom of God. But, I admire those who explore this question in great detail and debate their findings with exceptional skill. This is not my gift. If I were building a home in a meadow, I would orient my home toward the sunlight. I believe everyday living is much the same. Find the Light, and orient yourself in that direction. Do not build your home in the darkest corner on the property, because the sunlight will not stream through your windows. When a cloud passes by and blocks the sunlight, you see the shadow right away.

         Not everyone builds their home in a meadow. If you live in the forest, then you will be surrounded by tall trees casting their shadows on your life. St. Anthony moved to the desert where it was bright and sunny everyday, and the only tree was an occasional skinny cactus with an itty-bitty shadow. Over the years, lots of people followed St. Anthony to the desert and brought with them their shadows, so he moved back to the city. But when he returned from the desert he carried the light within his heart. St. Anthony received direct exposure to the light, and it penetrated his heart. He could have done this in a meadow.   

          "Antony was prudent, and the wonder was although he had not learned letters, he was a ready-witted and sagacious man. At an event two Greek philosophers once came thinking they could try their skill on Antony, he was in the outer mountain. And having recognised who they were from their appearance, he came to them and said, by means of an interpreter, 'Why, philosophers, did you trouble yourselves so much to come to a foolish man?' And when they said that he was not a foolish man, but exceedingly prudent, he said to them, ' If you came to a foolish man, your labour is superfluous, but if you think me prudent become as I am.  For we should imitate what is good. If I had come to you, I should have imitated you, but you came to me, so become as I am. For I am a Christian.'" 
(The Life of St. Anthony, by St. Athanasius the Great, 356-362)



 Love, Love, Love


26 January 2011

Dear Souls -

         It's simple . . . all you need is Love.

                                  Link here:  All You Need is Love

A Simple Bird



 A Quiet Voice Inside


27 January 2011

Dear Souls -

Photo by Misha Maslennikov
Please God . . .
Let me hear Your voice
and do Your will

                     The quiet is not where you think it is, and isn't as loud as you expect.
             Your heart lies hidden in the whirlwind of everyday life . . . unless you pause and reflect.



The Heart


29 January 2011

Dear Souls -

         My most brilliant time of day is 3am, which is not a convenient time of day to shine with intelligence. But this morning at 3am, while I considered my theological ignorance and doubted my abilities to write here, I suddenly recognised my expertise on the subject of the heart. I've studied the heart for years, lectured on the topic, and can sit and debate the heart with a wide range of experts.

        The heart is often depicted for purposes of study as a box divided into four squares. The two boxes on the right (if you were in the box looking out, so on your left), represent the right side of the heart which is the side with unoxygenated blood. The two boxes on the left represent the left heart which is the side with oxygenated blood. The two upper boxes are the right and left atria (right atrium, left atrium), and the two lower boxes are the right and left ventricles. Blood fills the heart during a phase called diastole and then during the phase of systole the blood is ejected from the heart either to your lungs for oxygenation, or systemically to pump oxygenated blood to your body. Between the upper and lower boxes and in the major vessels are doors which are called valves. The sound of these doors shutting are described by the silly term lub-dub (this is the truth). If these doors do not shut properly your heart cannot pump effectively. All of this is controlled  by a complex electrical system which only God could have designed. The two primary nodes which regulate God's electrical system in your heart are the SA node and the AV node. Your heart beats an average of 72 times per minute all day, everyday, without you giving it any thought at all.

       But, if your heart ceases pumping oxygenated blood throughout your body in an effective manner the result is heart failure. And if your heart stops pumping altogether this is a cardiac arrest. If your brain does not receive oxygenated blood, after a few very short minutes you will cease to be an intelligent functioning human. We have means of jump starting your heart, which works particularly well with a healthy pediatric heart, but we have yet to find a means of jump starting the brain, which suffers serious sequelae from a lack of oxygenation. After an even longer period of cardiac arrest you will find yourself either seated somewhere next to God, or somewhere you seriously wish you weren't.

        Our heart is primarily muscle and like any muscle it gets flabby when we get lazy. The best way to keep your heart strong is with regular exercise and a healthy low fat diet. But if we eat fast food, red meat, butter, cheese, and most anything else other than fruit, vegetables, grains, and beans, then the vessels in our heart suffer . . . and there is nothing more disgusting than the fatty exterior of a heart. Your heart is roughly the size of your clenched fist, so a tiny infant has a walnut sized heart, while your adult heart varies in size from a tennis ball to a baseball.

        I love the heart, not because it's an efficient means of circulating blood, but because it's the center of our being. Most of us depict the heart not with the box system I described above, but with a valentine style heart. If your heart is broken, it's not heart failure, but you've been hurt by someone. When you describe someone with a cold heart, you're not describing their low core body temperature. Heartless doesn't mean the heart is surgically removed. A big heart means a heart filled with love, not an enlarged heart (cardiomegaly) as seen on a chest x-ray.

         My vast knowledge of the heart comes from years of study and is intellectual and quantifiable. Impressive academic knowledge of the heart is of value in a hospital caring for the physically ill, but offers little value for those seeking spiritual knowledge of the heart. Knowledge of the Orthodox heart comes from within and is not measurable. When you understand, you will know this deep inside your heart.

           From my simple heart to yours . . .



Knowing Your Heart


30 January 2011

Dear Souls -

        While I love sharing with you my academic knowledge of the heart (we call the study of the heart Cardiology), this is not the same as my spiritual knowledge of the heart. And academic knowledge of the nature of God (we call the study of the nature of God Theology), is not the same as spiritual knowledge of God.

         When I speak of the path to your heart, I'm not referring to your cardiovascular system (although, I prefer writing with confidence about the heart I studied for years and not the secret heart hidden within). If you ask someone from inside a monastery to come forward and disclose the inner workings of their heart they refuse. The heart hidden within is inclined towards quiet, not public discussion. Theology suits the purpose of public discussion well and provides the perfect medium for prideful, quantifiable, intellectual knowledge. True spiritual knowledge of God is not pandered about via the internet. And, most of us would not see spiritual knowledge if it smacked us over the head. Those who have spiritual knowledge see it with eyes which differ from those on the outside of their face.

A Different Eye
          "The purpose of all our labours as Christians is this retrieval of the heart. The heart must emerge from the thick layer of the dirt of the passions, that the mind may seek it anew. Whatever our task of obedience in the Church, whatever labours we undertake for the Church, all these should contribute to finding our heart. . . ." 
(The Hidden Man of the Heart, Archimandrite Zacharias, 2008, p. 141)

                    From the eyes of my heart to yours . . .