The witness of the desert is heard in timeless stillness, HESYCHIA, giving Hesychast wisdom a timeless quality. The stages of the growth of spiritual maturation and restoration: purification, illumination and glorification, do appear to manifest in different tenses, purification anticipating illumination, glorification referring back to illumination and illumination to purification, but the sequential drama is more like a temporal play in which time dissolves into timeless presence than a strictly temporal process. Future glory in the age to come is glory restoring past glory in the present, where past and future glory both bear witness to glory’s timeless presence. Paradise restored employs the imagery of the holy sanctuary wedded with the sacred land in the gnomic poetics of desert prophecy. The symbolism of inspiration and inebriation clothes prayer with the mysteries of baptismal purification and chrismating illumination, so that the language of deification is able to replant awareness in the deifying presence of timeless paradise, expressing mysteries of glorification with metaphors like enthroning and crowning. Love’s future teaches love to discern love, because being loved is the only real way to know what love is. The witness of the desert is love’s witness to glory, because we become what we love and embody what we glorify. The wisdom of desert Hesychasm is renewed from within by the experience of love’s crowning, sustained by timeless temple mysteries of enthroning glorification.
The temple of Jerusalem was destroyed by the Roman legions in AD 70, but the poetry of desert prophecy lived the experience of crowning as hallowing glorification long before this desolation, empowering the Christian tradition to continue to partake in throne mysteries of glory long after the temple was desecrated. The experience of glorification ensured that the Orthodox Christian tradition held past and future together together in pure presence, uniting both progressive and conservative tendencies, grounding liberating freedom in enduring coherence, conjoining co-inherence with radical difference. This union of indivisible difference and unconfused communion continued to hold together in desert Hesychasm, long after it was falling apart in conventional circles that no longer sustained the practice of wisdom or lived mysteries of glorification. The experience of crowning purifies the heart and enlightens the mind in union with the heart, realising the truth of the Name through glorification. Metaphors of crowning and crown grafting extend the imagery from the temple to the garden, enrichening paradise as it is remembered in the earliest Christian psalms known as the Odes of Solomon, hymns which employ Song of Songs symbolism in ways that inspired desert wisdom to listen closely to the heart of the Beloved Disciple, whose timeless witness inspired the Gospel of John. Completeness resurrects regenerative wisdom with multiple, transfigured layering that gives depth and wholeness to prophetic imagery.
The voice of the Bridegroom, Christ, interweaves with the voice of the Bride, the Spirit-filled Church, in Hesychast tradition, grounding liberating freedom in loving co-inherence. This holds freedom together with sustaining coherence, allowing for the release of progressive liberation without shattering cohesive co-inherence. Long before the separation of progressive and conservative factions in modern times, and long before their binary opposition in modern democracies, wholesome sacred tradition united radical freedom looking to the future with traditional coherence rooted in the past. The prayer of the Name in ancient invocations such as Hallelu Yah, conjoined radical prophecy with cohesive prayer, uniting the exclusive glorification of God with inclusive glorification by God. Yah was Patriarch Jacob’s Name for God which angels and saints invoked to praise the Name that communicates the saving reign of God. Vainglory conspires to seduce the heart into becoming a shrine of self-obsessed, self-centred self-love, usurping God in the midst. Although God’s heart actually indwells every heart, as the Name reveals, vainglory contests God-centred trust by tempting the heart to harden against God, even whilst continuing to appear religious. Desert wisdom cures vainglorious sclerosis by restoring all glory to God, imprinting the heart with the seal of the Spirit. God’s seal provides clearance for the way of truth to become the timeless life of God.
In ancient Chant, melody conjoins with the words of the Word, transforming a path trodden by a few living future glory now, into a highway followed by the many. Seers become prophetic singers of wisdom songs once the wisdom of the Word is heard as ineffable words in the heart. A sacred crown of precious stones symbolises the enlightening of the mind in union with the heart’s radical awakening, realising the glory of the Name through sovereign glorification. Imprints of light become trackways of glory as the poetics of prophecy awakens the witness of prayer. Hearts are purified as minds are enlightened, opening the eye of the heart to light, transfiguring the material body into a body of translucent light. Paradise is re-inhabited by saints on earth, as it was always inhabited by angels in heaven. Glory glorifies saints on earth, turning the desert into a City of God, a New Jerusalem, a City of ineffable Peace. The Name mirrors God to us, revealing where God is to be found. The Name extinguishes the obscurity that veils our faces, unveiling the glory that reveals God. The unveiled face ascribes glory to the Spirit, cleansing the impurity that veiled God. The beauty of holiness shines forth from unveiled faces, communicating the glory of God’s unveiled Face.
When timeless life is grafted onto the temporal roots of created being, the heart opens like a flower in paradise, radiant with the uncreated light of glory. The incarnation of the Word grounds the deification of the saints, awakening the heart to God’s timeless life. The poetics of radical prophecy nourishes the witness of pure prayer, enlightening the body of glory with uncreated presence. Glory unveils the beauty of holiness, the undying radiance of deifying awareness conjoined with uncreated presence. This is the union of wisdom and glory that indwells the Bridal Chamber, the Holiest of Holies, a timeless union hidden with Christ in God. Crowning is not visible to reifying scrutiny, nor is enthroning glory observable to curious inspection. But the Name opens all the doors of perception, past and future, once Christ is acknowledged in his pure presence in the midst. The saints are his limbs, members of his timeless body of uncreated light, witnesses to his completeness in their temporal incompleteness. Completeness is not deprived of completeness even when incompleteness continues to suffer from lack and loss. The spiritual crown belongs to those who bear witness to the timeless presence of the invincible sovereignty of God in their midst.
The dance of wisdom and glory blesses all who hallow the Name and in every circumstance invoke its saving efficacy. God crowns all who turn and see, all who recognise wisdom’s love of glory and glory’s love of wisdom. Wisdom awakens wisdom in hearts that turn and see, just as glory increases glory in those who hallow God’s Name. Desert elders remind saints that the Son glorifies the Father as the Spirit glorifies the Son, opening every perception to the grace that overflows with glory. Turning restores the mind to the timeless Mind of Christ, seeing as he sees, seeing as he is seen, releasing darkness into light. The smile of grace is wondrous to behold, dazzling the darkness of reification, invisible to the objectifying mind. Glory to come is present in the timeless presence of wisdom, but temporal thinking cannot grasp this or conceive it with coherence The dance of wisdom and glory is ineffable joy, but this blessing eludes every thought that stays one thought away from joy. Timeless presence is dead to all that death can put to death, leaving timeless rest in peace which passes all understanding.
The holy Name is for the holy, not for those who take the holy Name in vain. The seven heads of the body of light are seven heads of a raging dragon until each spiritual centre awakens to Christ at centre in the midst. Then each head becomes a manifestation of the Spirit, like one of seven lamps shining with uncreated light, bearing sevenfold witness to the sevenfold completeness of wisdom. Each head looks like a demon barring the way of the Name until the Name is hallowed at centre in all seven centres of subtle energy. It is not that created temporal energy is evil but that subversion of the uncreated by created energy insinuates demonic inversion that only wisdom may convert. The heart’s seal clears the way for the Name to be hallowed, because it is when the Spirit seals the heart that temporal incoherence is clarified and timeless coherence is restored, so that abusive collusion is cured with deifying co-inherence. The symbolism of the seal was retained by ancient prophecy because it marks out a way for clarification to heal confusion and for difference to cure divisive dissolution, clearing a way from divisive incoherence into co-inherent difference. Wisdom cures self-obsession so that glory can heal vainglory. Wisdom extinguishes all that parodies God so as to reveal God, freed from all trace of idolatrous God-substitutes. Wisdom employs deifying unity to heal confusion, embracing divine difference to cure diabolic division. Prophecy communicates what prayer realises in the purified heart, ensuring prayer takes to heart what prophecy transmits. Separating out demonic confusion and unifying diabolic division, the poetics of desert prophecy clarifies the witness of pure prayer.