I think it is normal for us to turn to the Divine when tragedy or great anxiety strikes us like a cold punch to the gut. There is certainly nothing wrong with asking for help when we have a special need or a dear one who suffers. But what about those times in between the tears and pain? “Good times, noodle salad”, as Jack Nicholson said in the movie As Good as it Gets. What about those days when the sun rises on an inner tranquility that is directionless, but pleasant?
It seems to me that those precious few days which we can enjoy without pain or overwhelming strife should be celebrated, but also used to charge our spiritual batteries for the inevitable return to the struggle of being human. Unlike some religious communities, I think it is safe to say that Johannites are focused on improving our ability to commune with God right here, right now; not just when we pass into the next dimension of our existence. Gnosis is not just something that happens to other people or to saints.
It was this very idea which St. Gregory Palamas, who is remembered on November 14 in the Johannite Liturgical Calendar, held so dearly that he risked excommunication. St. Gregory believed that through mindfulness, contemplation and prayer, we cannot come to know the essence of God, but we can know the energies of the Divine. Since its feast in August, I have been drawn to the Transfiguration of Jesus on Mount Tabor, when he glowed and hovered in the air with Moses and Elias. Palamas wrote about the Transfiguration, describing it as the “uncreated light of God”, which was seen by the apostles John, James and Peter.
So this is the thing–That’s a very different way of describing what otherwise seems like a supernatural fun fest. Think about it–The apostles could see the uncreated light of God for the first time. They had eyes to see. Those of you who attend Johannite Mass will remember the words spoken by the deacon or priest before the gospel reading: “Many prophets and righteous men have desired to see the things which you see, and have not seen them; and to hear the things which you hear, and have not heard them.”
Palamas asserted that anyone can have these eyes to see the uncreated light, that is, anyone can commune with the energies of the Divine. He taught that there are three requisites for this sight.
(1.) A change of heart (metanoia, to think differently of our actions and our thoughts after contemplating them)
(2.) Spiritual discipline (Make a spiritual routine in your day and stick to it)
(3.) Contemplative prayer (freestyle, conversation, not repetitive for this purpose)
Now that we know how St. Gregory recommends us to fan up the flames of our spiritual lives, he recommends some big guns to help us on the way.
Hence, as it was through the Theotokos alone that the Lord came to us, appeared upon earth and lived among men, being invisible to all before this time, so likewise in the endless age to come, without her mediation, every emanation of illuminating divine light, every revelation of the mysteries of the Godhead, every form of spiritual gift, will exceed the capacity of every created being. She alone has received the all-pervading fullness of Him that filleth all things, and through her all may now contain it, for she dispenses it according to the power of each, in proportion and to the degree of the purity of each. Hence she is the treasury and overseer of the riches of the Godhead. For it is an everlasting ordinance in the heavens that the inferior partake of what lies beyond being, by the mediation of the superior, and the Virgin Mother is incomparably superior to all. It is through her that as many as partake of God do partake, and as many as know God understand her to be the enclosure of the Uncontainable One, and as many as hymn God praise her together with Him. She is the cause of what came before her, the champion of what came after her and the agent of things eternal. She is the substance of the prophets, the principle of the apostles, the firm foundation of the martyrs and the premise of the teachers of the Church . She is the glory of those upon earth, the joy of celestial beings, the adornment of all creation. She is the beginning and the source and root of unutterable good things; she is the summit and consummation of everything holy.
You really cannot get a better recommendation than that, so if you have a few good days to spare, try making a routine for yourself. Try praying with icons or other souvenirs of the likeness of the Blessed Mother, even if it is just 10 minutes in the morning before you rush into the world, or 15 minutes before you go to bed.
As St. Gregory wrote, “She only is the frontier between created and uncreated nature, and there is no man that shall come to God except he be truly illumined through her, that Lamp truly radiant with divinity, even as the Prophet says, "God is in the midst of her, she shall not be shaken'(Ps. 45:5).”
Good times, noodle salad.
 Matthew 13:17