by William Spencer for the Saker blog
What can be healed in this war?
It seems miraculous that I was drawn to the Russian sphere in the past several years, because I feel such a deep connection there, Anglo-European mutt that I am, and in spite of the fact that I’ve never been to Russia or Ukraine. I became obsessed with the history of Russia and Ukraine, and Ukrainian Nationalists and the current events regarding the Donbas, and it has been deeply heart wrenching and shocking since the SMO began.
Before 2022 I developed friendships with Russians and Ukrainians, both through reaching out via the HelloTalk app online and from aiding Ukrainian and Russian advanced English speakers in conversational English online. I still communicate with a significant number of these people, and I have a some wonderful friendships with them.
As the horrors of the war have continued to unfold ever more disturbing war crimes, I’ve gone through this seeming futile struggle to answer within myself, why? Somewhere in my readings or podcasts that I listened to, a past Secretary of State or advisor or cabinet member to a president had rightly referred to the disposition of Ukrainian Nationalists as having a “sickness of the soul”.
The atrocities are numerous in real time and are reported all over the web often in graphic video.
The question then became how does a group like the Ukrainian Nationalists or the Israeli Zionists (or fill in the blank for another group) heal from their collective sickness of the soul they possess?
Part of the answer is that only God can heal this. But the other part is that we have a part in this healing too, as it is our opportunity and calling to act as Christ would and pray for our enemies..
One of my priests once said, rather than focus on all the sin we need to be focusing on the Kingdom of God. That doesn’t mean ignore the atrocities. It simply means, that this deep infinite love is something we need to experience now to have the capacity to pray for our enemies.
I was received in the Orthodox Church in May of 2022 after being a Catechumen for over three years. In the US my Antiochan tradition celebrates Christmas along the Western timeline and a series of miracles happened for me on this recent Christmas Eve going into midnight liturgy of the Birth of Christ. I went from loneliness to communion with a big family and many friends. During the day I was invited to a family dinner and at the dinner my friend mentioned the patristicnectar.org website where I began immediately listening to the lives of the saints every day. On the day we celebrated the birth of Christ, Christ was born more deeply within me.
I haven’t stopped following the events in Ukraine, but my priority has changed. I now am putting my faith practice first, listening to the lives of the Saints at the beginning of each day. Then in the past couple of nights as I lay peacefully in bed, I’ve engaged in this expansive experience of God’s Love and extending it in prayer to all the souls involved in this war and even us, who have associations with those souls. It is so expansive that from within that perspective I now I can pray for the Ukrainian Nationalists. I have not directly experienced the atrocities I’ve been so shocked to learn about. But I think that the lives of the Saints also has modeled how to look at such atrocities. So many of the Saints were Martyred and many were tortured. But their attitude was so strong yet peaceful, not hateful, not judging.
Jesus himself said, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they have done.”
I think that all is happening in the war deeply pains the souls of Ukrainians and Russians and all others who have connections to these two countries. And our prayers are very important, not just for the general population, most of whom are innocent, or for the liberators, but also for the perpetrators themselves. That can be a hard idea, but then, we must experience the depths of God’s love to even understand how it could be possible to pray for them.
As for me, this is not a journey I’ve taken alone, but with support, with the help of others, and though we certainly have our moments in the wilderness as Jesus did, we are not meant to experience the Kingdom of God alone. That is why we have such powerful community together. I hope you will join me with prayers for all who are involved with this war, even including the Nationalists and the Neocons. It feels so powerful to me that I believe our prayers in this way can make a profound difference.
Here is the prayer. It can be done live in groups as well.
It starts as a visualization, as such one must find a quiet and comfortable disposition or place to pray and, calling on God’s Love, call forth the God to hold all the souls in Ukraine, all the humanity, all the good guys and bad guys, all the soldiers on both sides, all the children, all the old people, men and women, all the foreigners, and holding them in your prayer an your vision and with God doing so at your request, hold all these souls, and smooth down their essence to their common humanity, and with this presence of God’s immense love, see them all as his beloved children… Sit with that for a time, and then extend this same exercise further, to all of Russia and all of the souls within Russia and again ask God to smooth the souls of all the people in Russia and all the people in Ukraine to their common humanity of God’s beloved children… And once again, now add all of the people in the world who are connected with Ukraine or Russia or both, all the government people, politicians, good and bad, all the friends and family of Russians and Ukrainians, every who has any connection to these two countries, and again ask God and see God holding all of their souls and smoothing them down to their common humanity as one giant group of God’s beloved children. Now with all of these souls acknowledge the power of God to perform miracles, to heal his children, to heal this war, to move mountains. Believe that this is possible and see all these people as God’s beloved children and allow his healing to happen for everybody involved including ourselves. Sit with that or walk with that as long as you will, and Thank God.
This is my second article for the Saker blog. The first was https://thesaker.is/butina-reflection/