Heaven and earth are filled with glory, glory which wisdom ascribes to God when the eye of the heart awakens, seeing not just empty space but glory, perceiving not only observable astronomical phenomena but presence of glory, discerning not terrestrial phenomena exclusively but creation transfigured by glory. Prophecy in the desert imparts wisdom’s vision of glory by discerning God’s revelation of God, through God, with the help of his self-revelatory Name in Holy Trinity, empowering prayer of the heart in desert cells to assimilate the mysteries of glory revealed by the Name. The desert is transfigured by glorification of the Name, unveiling glory to wisdom as uncreated presence transfiguring awareness and as uncreated awareness discerning translucent presence. The timeless presence of revelatory glory is what it always was and shall always be. The ‘First and Last,’ ‘ the Alpha and the Omega,’ begin to be revealed anew at the end, ending as they begin anew in every moment. This is the revelation of the glory of the Name, but without wisdom, glory is not discerned and glory is not wisely ascribed or restored to God. Hesychast elders abide in wisdom by bearing witness to the Name as way and truth, empowering saints to partake by grace, through prayer of the Spirit in the heart, in the timeless life of glory. The fullness of glory manifests in the desert as theophanies of ineffable completeness, epiphanies of timeless glory embracing temporal incompleteness with radical paradox, holding together in critical tension what would otherwise fly apart.
When heaven and earth are full of the glory of God, the heart sings, ‘Hosanna in the Highest,’ where the metaphor of height denotes the immanent presence of transcendent awareness, divine oneness of indivisible union and unconfused communion revealed on love’s highest mountain of wisdom and revelation. Hesychasts inhabit these heights even on the plane, even in subterranean caves, abiding in the symbolic heights of love’s wisdom and glory. Elders expose fear’s demonic temptations that seek to infect wholesome love with spiralling fear, captivating and imprisoning fear by enslaving fear to fear. Demonic fear, causing endless ensnarements to fear, works in much the same way as modern fraudulent scams, playing on fear’s fear of fraud to defraud trusting victims, promising protection against fraud in order to defraud them. Demonic fear works in much the same way as the fear of fraud Is used to defraud democracy of the genuine exercise of democratic freedom. When scams spawn scams that are prepared to lie at every turn, the age of fake news and scam power has arrived, subverting trust in love and freedom. All parties are affected, victims of demonic temptation, challenged by love of enemies to turn and see. Demonic temptations were always carefully exposed by desert elders, so liberation from these snares might safely encircle saints with love and trust. The desert does not, however, just sing, ‘Hosanna in the Highest,’ in a closed circle or holy huddle but endures trial and temptation with discerning wisdom, securing the way of truth so that timeless life can be lived and handed on in wholesome ways. This secures fullness of love’s glory from disintegration, dissolving delusion by curing the deadly virus of spiritual fear, overcoming spiritual death with resurrecting love in deifying glorification.
With Christ present in the midst, every heart enshrines the Spirit’s witness to truth, which reveals the sovereign presence of God. This is the radical wisdom that grounds democracy in sacred presence, ensuring the exercise of democratic freedom thrives in the image and likeness of God. This was the mystical vision that inspired radical Christian democracy in the seventeenth century, a vision like that of the early Quakers, later secularised but not utterly compromised at the heart of recent western democracies. When monarchy was retained it became iconic, a visible symbol of sacred sovereignty, but no longer conceived as a threat to the healthy exercise of democratic freedom. The radical, Hesychast tradition preserved in the desert renews ancient prophecy and radical, priestly prayer of union, mediating, like ancient, royal sovereignty, between heaven and earth. The Hesychast wisdom of prophet, priest and king never loses its liberating power to radicalise prophecy, renew priestly prayer and guarantee sovereignty, nourishing sacred democracy through Christ in the Spirit. The Byzantine and the Latin worlds saw many changes to their external, imperial structures but the desert bore unbroken witness to the unchanging wisdom that underlies the prophetic, intercessory and royal symbolism of the eschatological reign of God in every heart.
Imperial Christendom did not endure in the Byzantine East nor in the Latin West. Neither did post-imperial Christianity when modernity secularised it or seduced it to betray itself as literalist fundamentalism. But the witness of the desert does endure when prophecy and prayer are renewed by wisdom, when deifying glorification is handed on through elders to vulnerable saints, from generation to generation. Saint Silouan the Athonite imparted love’s glory in the heart of Saint Sophrony the Hesychast even in relatively recent times, opening wisdom to glory for generations to come. But these are simply Chtistian mysteries lived as mysteries of the fullness of love’s glory, not something novel substituting itself for Christ, usurping the Spirit in the interests of fear, fear deluding fear by seducing fear to fear delusion. Conventional belief is always vulnerable to these subtle temptations, so the desert reminds religion that its outward forms are wisdom’s mysteries, well able to stand trial when demonic fear interferes. Fullness of glory stands steadfast when wisdom’s completeness endures, when timeless completeness gathers temporal incompleteness into the timeless embrace of unselfish love.
Fear is sealed by love when wisdom embraces glory, ensuring completeness grounds fullness of love’s glory in integral ways, handing on the transmission of wisdom by opening mysteries of deifying glory to the fullness of ineffable completeness. Fear continues to haunt freedom even in an age that thought it had centuries of stable democratic institutions behind it. Fear’s corrosive delusions still tempt freedom to lose faith in love and freedom, trying to undermine trust in democratic sovereignty, subverting the wisdom that sees Christ at centre in the midst of each and all. Desert elders remind saints that the demon of fear is overcome when love of enemies dawns in the heart, when harmony replaces division in the sacred commonwealth, whether it be a monastic skete or communal life in general. Almost nobody remembers to listen to this wisdom when secularism sees only material exteriors, as in an age of consumerist materialism, but the exercise of freedom in vulnerable democracies reminds us that sacred sovereignty is holy, never something to be taken for granted or abused as a means to relative, egocentric ends.
When prayer restores health and harmony to the sacred commonwealth, wholesome prophecy is vindicated. When the Spirit begins to restore the holy roots of lived communion, divisions driven by egocentric or ethnocentric fear begin to heal. Elders do not forget the sacred roots of democratic sovereignty, nor do saints neglect to tend those roots with loving discernment and prayer of the heart. Christ at centre in the midst is the sovereign wisdom that cures every temporary degeneration, every pandemic of fear, fake news and lies. It is tempting to despair when lies spread everywhere and fraud is committed as scams in the name of the exposure of fraud. But demonic deception is unable to create anything really new but exploits old ideologies to dress up ethnocentric fear and egocentric obsession to look like something new. Projection is everywhere when oblivious obsession is unconscious of its shady motivations, giving rise to fresh opportunities for constructive mirroring that reveals unconscious motivation for all to see. Apparent disorder is actually a graceful opportunity to awaken to what lies beneath wholesome sacred sovereignty, what cures egocentric confusion and heals ethnocentric division. Christ is the wisdom that inspires healthy communal democracy even if nobody remembers the sacred roots of mutual respect and dignity of difference.
Desert wisdom was always nourished by radical prophecy and profound prayer hallowed by the revelatory Name. Christ present in the midst grounds the sacred foundations of liberating democracy in every generation, even when these roots are forgotten or degenerate Into ideological fundamentalism. Hesychast elders offered ancient cures down the centuries to renew communion in hallowing union. These same cures are still able to heal what fear infects, ensuring the persisting practice of ancient therapies that address fear where fear descends into extremism. This means there is always hope, even when circumstances appear desperate, because love is stronger than fear and health underlies disease. The fullness of love’s glory descends far lower than fear, well able to transfigure fear’s hells into wholesome heavens of love. Love of enemies sees Christ in the midst, not the demonising caricature that locks enemies away in hell. Glory completes what wisdom unveils, renewing communion through hallowing union. The fullness of glory rises amongst the ashes of destructive conflict as wholesome healing in the midst. The roots of wholesome sovereignty are watered by hidden wisdom springs, regenerating freedom by renewing trust, restoring discernment of the glory of love’s all-embracing grace.